One of the first posts I wrote for Rush asked the question "Is the NBA trying to dominate esports?". A few months down the line, we've got an answer: Yes, they officially are.
Whereas my original post concerned individual teams, owners and players investing into esports and gaming, the latest news reveals that the NBA as a league will be diving in. They'll be teaming up with Take-Two Interactive Software, makers of one of the best sports-sim franchises on the market today NBA 2K, as well as each of the NBA franchises to form a sort of shadow league - a virtual league of e-athletes drafted into teams almost NBA-style and following the same schedule as their real-life counterparts.
It remains to be seen whether the idea will take off; it is of course a pretty convoluted concept: a professional sports league owning and operating a professional e-sports league with real-life franchises each operating both real-life and virtual sports teams, following the same schedule as the real sport, but is played on a simulation of the real sport which holds its own as a legitimate separate sport. It gets complicated if you think about it too hard, but the main takeaway is simply this: the NBA is serious about getting directly involved with esports, and they've just made it official.
The NBA 2K eLeague, tentatively set to begin play in 2018, eventually will feature 30 NBA 2K teams, each owned by one of the real-life NBA franchises, according to NBA commissioner Adam Silver and Strauss Zelnick, the CEO of Take-Two. The teams, comprised of five human players, will play out a five-month season that mirrors the real NBA season. It will proceed through a regular season of head-to-head games and then to playoffs and a championship matchup.