SACRAMENTO -- Need something new to pass the long NBA offseason in Sacramento? The Kings might have something for you.
Beginning in May of 2018, the team will compete with 16 other NBA franchises as a charter member of an NBA 2K eSports League. The franchise has chosen the name “Kings Guard” as their team name and on Monday morning, they announced that former NBA superstar and minority owner of the Sacramento Kings, Shaquille O’Neal, has been named the General Manager of Kings Guard Gaming.
“I’m looking forward to my role with Kings Guard,” O’Neal said in the team’s official press release. “Just like I dominated the hardwood, music industry, showbiz, nicknames and broadcasting, I plan to help build the most dominant 2K franchise in history.”
Kings Guard will draft fourth in the upcoming April 4 draft. They will select a six-man team that will move to Sacramento where the Kings have built a state of the art eSports training facility and gaming studio inside Golden 1 Center.
It appears the Kings are taking their first dip into eSports seriously, even using their analytics guru, Luke Bornn, in their pre draft assessments of potential draft picks. From their official press release:
“Kings Guard draft preparation began as the NBA 2K League finished its combine in January. To assist with the first-ever 2K League draft, the team has incorporated artificial intelligence and other innovations that examine player data sets, support from Sacramento Kings VP of Strategy and Analytics Luke Bornn, and additional basketball council from Shaq and gaming experts. In the coming weeks, Kings Guard will announce additional performance and human optimization staff who will support the team’s growth and development.”
The eSports team will be spearheaded by the Kings’ chief technology officer, Ryan Montoya. The season will begin in May, with the finals starting sometime in August.
If the first two weeks of the offseason in Sacramento are any indicator, it’s going to be a summer of change in Kingsland. Fans were sent into a frenzy on social media Tuesday evening when the news broke that long time PA announcer, Scott Moak, had been relieved of his duties as Vice President of Game Entertainment, Production and Content with the Kings.
According to the team, Moak has been offered to stay on as the public address announcer, a position he’s held since 2002. But he has yet to make a decision on his future with the club.
“We are restructuring our community programs given the importance of that role, now more than ever. Scott is a cherished announcer and we offered him the opportunity to stay in that role, as originally envisioned for him,” the Kings organization said through a prepared statement.
Prior to his role as the VP of Game Entertainment, Moak served as the team’s Vice President of Community Impact and Executive Director of the Sacramento Kings Foundation from 2014-2017.
Bee Makes Cutbacks
In addition to the Moak news, veteran NBA columnist, Ailene Voisin, was let go by the Sacramento Bee on Tuesday afternoon after 21 years with the newspaper.
A pioneer in the field of sports journalism, Voisin began her career with the San Diego Union in the early 1980’s and has been a staple in the Sacramento media world since 1997.
Voisin is one of the longest tenured female columnists covering the NBA and a legend in the industry.
The Sacramento Kings announced Wednesday morning that rookie shooting guard Bogdan Bogdanovic underwent a successful procedure to repair a slight tear of the medial meniscus in his left knee.
The arthroscopic procedure was performed by Dr. Riley Williams at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City. Bogdanovic, 25, is expected to resume basketball activities in 8-10 weeks
Bogdanovic joined Sacramento last summer after playing professionally in Europe. He averaged 11.8 points, 3.3 assist and 2.9 rebounds in 27.9 minutes per game for the Kings this season.