NBA eLeague

The NBA and Take-Two Are Changing esports

The NBA and Take-Two (Makers of NBA 2K) are teaming up to change esports in a major way starting in 2018. The NBA and Take-Two have partnered to create a professional, competitive NBA eLeague.

Traditional sports games have fallen behind in the world of esports. Games like League of Legends, Pokemon, Halo, Counter-Strike and Dota2 have had been dominating competitive gaming and are already paying gamers million of dollars.

The NBA is trying to take a piece of that pie. There is so much money to be made from gaming that traditional sports need to innovate before they get left behind.

The NBA and Take-Two are trying to set the trend for these traditional sports. This bold leap could change the gaming industry like never seen before.

So what exactly will this NBA eLeague be and how will it run?

How Will it work?

NBA eLeague

(Photo Credit: https://geekiversedotcom.com)

The eLeague, as Adam Silver has called it, will be a professional gaming league run by the NBA and its franchises. Each NBA team will be in control of their own 2K virtual basketball team.

For example, the Chicago Bulls will have the eBulls and the team will manage its roster just as they do for the on-court basketball team. There will be general managers and a salary cap.

All 30 NBA teams will be involved and this season will mirror the real season. Gamers will be paid a salary to practice, train and compete for their respective teams and the only difference is they will be training with a controller instead of their body.

These teams will be through a real draft, similar to the traditional NBA draft. Each team will have five professional gamers on its roster. They won’t be playing with LeBron James, Steph Curry or Kevin Durant but instead they will play with their custom created avatars that they work on to improve.

One area of concern most people come up with is how can they do this if everyone is going to just be a 99 overall player who can do everything? NBA2K has already fixed this issue in their latest version of the game.

archetypes and badges

NBA eLeague

(Photo Credit:https://www.youtube.com)

NBA 2K17 really wanted to make sure that each player had their own specialty. In previous years a player could make a point guard who could be 6-foot-7 and earn all badges to become the most unstoppable player of all-time.

There are three solutions they came up with to halt this.

The first is with archetypes. For all examples in how this works, we will stick to looking at point guards.

When you create your player you can pick a position. Once you select the position you wish to play, you must pick an archetype. The archetypes for point guard are the following: playmaker, sharpshooter, lockdown defender, shot creator and slasher.

Depending on the type of point guard you decide to become, you will have only five badges you can upgrade. That is the second part of the solution: the number of badges one can upgrade. In NBA 2K there are dozens of badges a player can get that makes them better.

One of those badges is the pickpocket badge. To unlock the pickpocket badge, a player must get a certain amount of steals within a season. The pickpocket badge makes a player more effective at stealing the ball.

As you can see in the picture with the sharpshooter, pickpocket is not one of these upgradeable badges for that archetype. What that means is that the pickpocket badge must stay at the bronze level.

NBA eLeague

(Photo Credit: YouTube)

If the sharpshooter archetype gamer unlocked the limitless range badge then they could upgrade it from bronze to silver then to gold. Once a player has a gold badge they can upgrade it to the hall of fame level. Hall of fame badges allow a player to be great at that skill.

By allowing gamers to only have five upgradeable badges, they have stopped people from becoming players that are great at everything and 99 overall.

The third way NBA 2K17 has made it difficult to become 99 overall is by including park reputation.

Park reputation is a tier system in which can only be aquired by playing at MyPark. There are five levels to each tier. The tiers are as follows: rookie, pro, all-star, superstar and legend.

A player can only get to 95 overall before the game will not let them upgrade anymore. To earn more upgrades, one must reach levels one, three and five of the superstar tier at MyPark. The amount of games and time it takes to reach those tiers is extremely straining and does not come easily.

These three additions have really helped NBA 2K level the playing field and made a game that requires multiple different skill sets, rather than just a bunch of players who can do all. This is something NBA teams will have to look at when constructing teams for their NBA eLeague.

2K HAS ALREADY TESTED THIS

There is a mode in NBA 2K called Pro-Am that allows all these different gamers to take their custom players play in five on five games similar to an NBA contest. These teams become really competitive and are an example of how an NBA eLeague team would look. NBA 2K have already held two major tournaments over the past two years to test how this would work in a legitimate format.

NBA eLeague

(Photo Credit:http://www.usatoday.com/sports/)

The first one was called the Road to the Finals which took place in 2016. This year NBA 2K held the All Star Tournament which would gave 250 thousand dollars to the winning team Still Trill.

Over two million people streamed the final game, according to NBA 2K, proving that there is a market for competitive traditional sports games. The tournament showed is that these skilled players are capable of drawing a lot of viewers.

There are over 110,000 teams on Xbox alone in the Pro-Am game mode. The teams and players are already around waiting to be picked up by NBA franchises.

Why This Will Change eSports

NBA eLeague

(Photo Credit: Matthew Hagan)

The potential of this idea is unlimited. Currently, getting the NBA to be involved is monumental for the growth of NBA 2K as an esport. The NBA is the first professional league in the United States to create their own esports league.

The success with the two tournaments that NBA 2K have already run proves that there is huge interest in this game. Eventually the NBA eLeague could expand to more teams than just 30. There could be hundreds of teams in each region of the world. Eventually there could be regional championships that lead to a world championship.

An eLeague allows people who could never play in the NBA a chance to become NBA stars. This includes people who have disabilities and are unable physically play the sport. It doesn’t matter your size, weight, or gender, anybody who is good enough on the sticks can end up being drafted to an NBA eLeague team. That is something that no other professional sport can offer.

This is just the beginning for the NBA and Take-Two. Once the money begins to flow they will realize they need to expand the field. Before you know it there will be an NBA2K Hall of Fame and a list of new NBA eChampions.

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How Social Issues are Becoming Entrenched in the NBA

Recently, social issues and politics have become especially prominent in the NBA. Basketball has always found itself intrenched in cultural issues, but over the past year it has become increasingly noticeable.

One prominent social issue that came to light earlier this year was regarding the use of marijuana in the NBA. Frequently outspoken coach and former player Steve Kerr made headlines when he admitted to using marijuana to help with his back pain. Kerr, 51 years old, also mentioned that hopes the NBA will soften its stance on marijuana. Interestingly, the NBA already refrains from testing for marijuana during the offseason.

The NBA has a much more lenient position on pot usage than the MLB and NFL. The NFL is notoriously strict on players who test positive for marijuana and bans players for a full season after testing positive three times.

NBA Social Issues

(Courtesy of Sports Illustrated)

Kerr specifically spoke out against the NFL’s policies.

“If you’re an NFL player, in particular, and you got lot of pain, I don’t think there’s any question that pot is better for your body than Vicodin,” Kerr said.

Former NBA player Jay Williams said that he believes 80% of NBA players use marijuana. He also expressed his support for leniency on marijuana also citing the benefits of marijuana over painkillers.

Marijuana has proven to be just the tip of the iceberg in terms of NBA personalities expressing their beliefs. This became especially clear in the months surrounding the 2016 election.

On November 6th, in Cleveland, LeBron James spoke out at a rally for presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Rather than spark a controversy, his endorsement brought support from his peers on both sides of the aisle.

Milwaukee Bucks center Spencer Hawes, a known conservative, spoke out on James’ endorsements in October. Hawes was asked whether James’ comments regarding Clinton made him uncomfortable in an interview with Sporting News, eliciting this response:

No, I like it. Obviously, I don’t agree with LeBron there. And that’s fine. But the ability to not agree and put that in one compartment and not judge someone’s entire character based on how they view the world or what their political beliefs are, that’s what makes us great. So yeah, I disagree with LeBron. I would love to have a discussion with him or anybody that wants to talk about it. But at the end of the day, there’s two parties, there’s two ways of doing things. Each one has been in power many times over again, and we’re still where we are.

The political statements from big NBA stars only continued after the election. Gregg Popovich, Steve Kerr and Stan van Gundy all made huge political statements in the days following the 2016 election.

NBA Social Issues

(Courtesy of Rolling Stone)

The NBA’s social involvement does not end with Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. In 2014, across the league, players showed their solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. Led by stars Lebron James, Kobe Bryant and Derrick Rose, many players wore shirts that said “I can’t breathe” during warmups. The NBA broke their protocol and decided not to fine the players who wore the shirts.

In another politically charged act, the NBA pulled the All-Star game from Charlotte, North Carolina earlier this year. This came in response to the “bathroom bill” that had been passed in the state. The NBA also became the first professional American sports league with an active openly gay athlete when Jason Collins came out in 2013.

NBA Social Issues

(Courtesy of USA Today)

This article from Bleacher Report explains how Donald Trump was causing turmoil in NFL locker rooms because of political divides. Similarly, the NFL was the focus of a huge nationwide media controversy as a result of Colin Kapernick kneeling during the national anthem earlier this year. The political statements that come out of the NFL have simply not been received kindly by fans and the media alike.

As we can see from the comments from Hawes and those three coaches, the NBA has clearly had a much better reaction to the social issues that have become so deeply entrenched in this sport.

Additionally, while some more mediocre players in other sports leagues have spoken up, marquee players in other leagues have been mostly silent about social issues. Meanwhile, some of the biggest stars in the NBA have been politically outspoken.

Kobe Bryant and Lebron James are undoubtedly the two biggest 21st century basketball stars and both have been remarkably outspoken about social issues. Additionally, stars such as Chris Paul, Carmelo Anthony, Derrick Rose and many others have let their voice be heard. And, as mentioned, three of the top coaches in the league spoke very strongly about their political beliefs this year.

So, what allows the NBA to foster so much more activism than other American sports leagues?

NBA Social Issues

(Courtesy of NBA Lead)

One of the key factors is commissioner Adam Silver. Silver has fostered an environment in the NBA that has allowed players to be comfortable expressing their beliefs politically and on social issues.

Since becoming the commissioner of the NBA, Silver has set the tone for creating a welcoming environment and has hastily stood up for the things he believes in.

Silver delivered a lifetime ban to former Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling for his racist comments. He instituted the removal of the All-Star Game from Charlotte earlier this year. And earlier this year, Silver expressed outright that NBA players were free to use their celebrity to express their political views.

Silver has emphasized the importance of sports bringing people together and he has certainly not been afraid to put his beliefs to action. Silver also remains an incredibly liked commissioner, proving a sharp contrast to the commissioners of other sports leagues such as Gary Bettman and Roger Goodell.

The NBA’s ability to intertwine relevant social issues and sports has proved successful so far. With one of the most liked and respected commissioners in sports at the moment, it seems likely that they will continue to succeed. And as long as it’s working, why not?

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Why The NBA Needs A Franchise Tag

 

(http://www.huntingtonbuzz.tv/view_article.php?article_id=998)

(http://www.huntingtonbuzz.tv/view_article.php?article_id=998)

 

 

 

The NBA needs a franchise tag similar to the one in the NFL. It is as simple as that. Imagine Kevin Durant being stuck in Oklahoma City for at least one more season. The landscape within the NBA could be entirely different, had the Thunder been given the option to tag Durant.

If you have watched Sportscenter at all last month, you have seen them talking about the players who have been designated for a franchise tag trying to get a long term deal done in the NFL. The deal must have been done by July 15th at 4 P.M. EST.

In the NFL, a franchise is allowed to tag a player with the franchise tag. A franchise tag is a designation a team may apply to a player that is  scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent. The franchise tag binds the player to the team for at least another year. The tag is a valuable asset to the franchise, but the franchise tag can be tricky business. It really helps a team make sure they don’t lose a valuable player. At least for another year.

In most cases this is good but can be a bad thing too. A player may not be happy with getting tagged. If a player gets hurt during the year they are given the franchise tag it hurts their chances at signing a long term deal. This may cause a holdout or make a player decide to not play hard. There are pros and cons to a franchise tag, but I am positive that NBA owners and general managers wish they had the chance to use a franchise tag.

A franchise tag in the NBA would be a way to stop the formation of super teams. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver was quoted saying, “I’ve read several stories suggesting that that’s something that the league wants, this notion of two super teams, that it’s a huge television attraction,” Silver said. “I don’t think it’s good for the league, just to be really clear.” The commissioner knows that a league full of bottom feeders is bad for business. The reason the NFL is loved is because of the parity within the league. The NBA has lost that since the formation of super teams.

(http://www.sportal.co.nz/nba/kevin-durant-warriors-adam-silver-super-teams/1ez5j8zodkgza1l6pgsyvxkj7t)

(http://www.sportal.co.nz/nba/kevin-durant-warriors-adam-silver-super-teams/1ez5j8zodkgza1l6pgsyvxkj7t)

If there had been a franchise tag in the summer of 2010 LeBron would have been stuck in Cleveland at least one more season. Cleveland could have worked out some kind of trade that year if LeBron was dead set on leaving. The Cavs also could have convinced LeBron to stay. Trades and signings could have been made after tagging Lebron to give him faith in the franchise.

The same could have happened with Kevin Durant this offseason. The Thunder could have tried and traded Durant after tagging him. They could have gotten something in return rather than watching him just walk away.  A long term deal could have been reached with the extra time that a franchise tag would provide.

The players have too much power to form super teams. Ever since LeBron and Bosh joined Miami other players have mimicked the move to try and compete. Adam Silver is correct in saying super teams are bad for the NBA.

I believe a simple addition of a franchise tag in the next collective bargaining agreement would really help the NBA franchises. It may cause a lockout, but it would be for the betterment of the product put on the court.

It hurts the players a bit, but even if it does, it only sets their plans to leave back by a year. I think it will also help the NBA regulate the formation of super teams. The NBA needs a franchise tag for the parity of the game. Franchise tags could be a simple solution to the death of competition.

 

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Changing the Hack-a-Shaq Rule is a Flagrant Foul

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver made a statement during the 2016 playoffs about banning the hack-a-Shaq strategy, saying, “Not only is that something that is bad for our network partners, but for all of the fan research we have shows that the fans hate it.” (reports ESPN).

This would be a terrible move for the game of basketball. Sure, the casual fan may hate it, but what they should really be irritated about is the player shooting the free throws who can’t make them. There are a couple of good things that a rule forbidding this strategy would bring to the game, but I believe that the effects of this rule drastically change the game of basketball long term for the worse.Positives
1) As commissioner Silver alluded to, it makes for hard to watch basketball. Fouling the opposition’s weakest free throw shooter in order to interrupt the flow of the game, and forcing the weak link to make two shots from the charity stripe, makes for very boring basketball I will admit. A rule discontinuing this strategy would keep the game in motion and force opponents to beat the other team without resorting to hack-a-(insert bad free throw shooter here).
2) A rule created to prevent hack-a-Shaq tactics could bring back the importance of the old school NBA centers. In recent memory, old school type centers have not gone very high in the draft, as the game has evolved into a faster paced game of shooting and life above the rim. Traditional centers are known to play ten feet from the rim with their back to the basket, which half of the time results in them going to the free throw line due to the large amount of physicality a player experiences as they get closer to the rim. A rule change would keep NBA centers like Dwight Howard, Andre Drummond and other centers shooting sub 60% from the line, from being benched in tight game situations, making for more competitive and undisputed outcomes.

Negatives
1) A rule change would only help about a handful of players, all of them centers. That’s like introducing a 4 point line for sharp shooters like Steph Curry, when no more than a handful could make that shot on a consistent basis. Dwight Howard, DeAndre Jordan and Andre Drummond all attempted over 450 free throws in the 2015-16 NBA season, and all of them shot below 50%; Drummond and Jordan were both top 5 in the league in free throw attempts and shot 36% (Drummond) and 43% (Jordan). All three of those guys were on playoff teams this past season, hence why Silver wants to eliminate the tactic all together; it affected the NBA’s ratings. There were no more centers or players at other positions in the past season that attempted more than 400 shots and shot below 60% from the charity stripe; the next 3 centers that had the most free throw attempts, while shooting below 60%, shot 225 free throws (Rudy Gobert 57%, John Henson 59%, and Nerlens Noel 59%). In a league that has over 400 players, to accommodate for only a handful of players seems rather pitiful and sad.
2) Enforcing a rule of this nature would take away importance of a fundamental of basketball skill; shooting. Creating a rule banning the strategy would send a message to all future NBA hopefuls that shooting free throws isn’t as important as putting on a show, which would allow for more bad free throw shooters. Sure, shooting free throws will still be important in crunch time moments, but let me give you a scenario: under the proposed rule change, with the poor free throw shooting centers in the game, who is most likely to be involved in the offense to try and win the game? As soon as the ball would get anywhere near their hands, they can expect hard contact and force the referee to call a foul to send the player to the line and, based on his bad percentage from that part of the court, will miss one if not both of those shots. When that happens, fans will wonder “why did the coach have him in the game in such a tight situation?” The opposition will still find a way to expose the weakness of these players which makes for bad television and makes fans feel like their team didn’t play their best, because their team put in a bad free throw shooter at such a pivotal moment in the game. The fans will then notice after a while that many younger players will shoot poorly from the free throw line. Teams and coaches have often planned for and against other teams whether or not they have a bad free throw shooting center on their team; they know that the player is a liability and doesn’t give them the best chance to win. The result of the rule would be a lack of importance on practicing free throws and shooting form.

I apologize to Adam Silver, but I am calling a flagrant foul on him for what would be the first huge mistake in his reign as commissioner. I know what some of you may be thinking; “Oh you’re just afraid of change,” when actually, I am not, I just know what makes for great basketball, and missing so many free throws is a stain on the purity that can be shown on the court. The bottom line is: Make your free throws so fans don’t pity you and a commissioner has to try and bail you out.

Fouled Out: Overtime Calls For Foul Rule Change

Jan. 5, 2015, in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

Jan. 5, 2015, in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

We watch basketball for a variety of reasons. We tune in to see our favorite teams play, watch our favorite players or just sometimes because a friend is watching and it’s already on. It is fun to watch a great match-up of teams like the Warriors versus Thunder or the the Spurs versus the Cavaliers. The reason we love these match-ups and why we find them so intriguing is because of the star power involved.

Let’s take the Warriors versus the Thunder for instance; we get to watch Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green go head to head against Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant and Surge Ibaka.
If it’s the Spurs versus the Cavaliers we get to see Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge go up against Kevin Love, Kyrie Irving and LeBron James. Both match-ups have tons of star power.

Now stop for a second and think about hyped up we get for these type of games? We set plans with our friends to watch the game, we tweet before, during and after to hype up and discuss and the games get put on T.V. during prime time so the world can witness these great match-ups. Without these star players there would be no appeal, we just wouldn’t have interest in these games.

I love watching basketball and especially love overtime games. It’s so entertaining to watch teams battle into games longer than they anticipated but it’s not as entertaining when a huge star fouls out. During a 48 minute, four quarter game a player fouls out after committing 6 fouls. I get to watch Russell Westbrook and Steph Curry attack each other and defend each other for 48 minutes and then 30 seconds into overtime one of them fouls out. Now we have to watch a great match-up disappear right in front of us. The star power is halfway depleted and now a backup comes in when the game matters most. The foul out rule is a great rule to make sure players don’t just commit fouls over and over. It’s a fair and understandable rule but there is a flaw.

What is the concept when the game goes into overtime? Additional time is added in which a team has to try and win a game because they were so evenly matched. Essentially a player may commit a foul but still foul out once 6 fouls are committed. I think this is a bit outdated and that if a game goes into overtime the foul limit should be raised to 7. If players have to play more minutes they should be allowed to commit more fouls, it only makes sense.

I have seen many games over the years in which a game goes into overtime and a player fouls out in that overtime period. The fans and the game is being cheated if a great player fouls out in overtime because they have to play addition minutes but don’t get the additional benefit of extra fouls. The game needs to evolve because, if for four quarters, two star studded teams put on a show and go into overtime, that extra period is going to be more dull and the outcome is partially deceiving. I want to be entertained for all four quarters and into overtime if a game requires overtime to determine the outcome. The game will be more exciting if an extra foul limit is added when games go into overtime, so please Commissioner Silver, team owners and the competition committee read this and make a change for the evolution of basketball!