SACRAMENTO — The newest members of the Sacramento Kings dominate the game of basketball, not on the court, but on a gaming console.
The Kings are one of 17 NBA franchises that now have an eSports team in the newly formed NBA 2K League.
The teams are each made up of six players who will compete five-on-five against other teams playing the enormously popular NBA 2K video game. The Kings team is called Kings Guard Gaming. They practice at a video game training facility inside the Golden 1 Center and are housed in a mansion east of Sacramento.
The six-month season tips off May 1 and the live games will all be played in New York and streamed on Twitch.TV.
In the games, the players control characters that resemble themselves, not real NBA players.
With just 102 players in the league selected from a pool of 72,000 hopefuls, they are among the best NBA 2K players in the world.
The team was introduced to Sacramento media Wednesday.
“The dream was always NBA, NFL, MLB, anything like that,” said Kings Guard player Jhade Black, who goes by WorthingColt in the game. “And now you can do the same profession, you can enjoy playing the same game, but in a video game mode.”
Player salaries range from $32,000 to $35,000 for the six month season, according to Forbes. Plus, they can get endorsement deals and are competing for a share of $1 million in prize money.
“I come from nothing, so this is great for me,” said teammate Christian Collazo, or cowboyXcollazo. “This is a huge opportunity. I realize that. I take it as a golden opportunity and I do everything I can to make sure to preserve this opportunity.”
“We’re bonding together well,” added teammate Cole Motta, or ColeWorld2K. “We’re getting our chemistry up and we’re meshing well together and, honestly, I see no downfalls to our game. We’re all very good players who like to compete at the highest level. So we’re looking to bring back some hardware to Sacramento, man.”
The general manager of Kings Guard Gaming is retired NBA star Shaquille O’Neal and retired MMA fighter Urijah Faber is helping them with mental and physical strength training.