Kings to join NBA 2K eSports League, tab Shaq as GM of Kings Guard Gaming


Kings to join NBA 2K eSports League, tab Shaq as GM of Kings Guard Gaming

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.

2019 NBA All-Star Saturday Night: Buddy Hield shines in 3-Point Contest

2019 NBA All-Star Saturday Night: Buddy Hield shines in 3-Point Contest

Taking advantage of his first invitation to the 3-Point Contest at NBA All-Star weekend, Kings shooting guard Buddy Hield put on a show on Saturday in Charlotte. 

Hield crushed it in the first round, scoring 26 points to advance. He joined Brooklyn Nets guard Joe Harris and Warriors superstar Stephen Curry in the finals.

After watching Harris go for 26 to open the final round, Hield struggled early. He cleaned up in the final rack, but his 19 points weren’t nearly enough to come away with the win. 

Curry made his first nine to open his final round, but he went cold from the top of the key. He needed five makes on the final rack to force another round, but the two-time MVP only hit four

With the win, Harris became the first Nets player in team history to win the 3-point contest. Hield came in third place, but represented Sacramento well in his first visit to the event.

Messed around and got burned...

Speed kills, but in the Skills Challenge, the 3-point shot is just as important as every other skill. 

Matched up against Hawks rookie Trae Young in the first round, Kings point guard De’Aaron Fox raced through the course like a dart. He flew through the dribbling portion, had no problems with the pass or the lay-up. 

Fox’s lead seemed insurmountable. 

After missing his first 3-point attempt, Fox released a second shot which was on line. But Young sent a laser from deep, which flew past Fox’s second attempt hit pay dirt first.

Young looked like was going to walk away with the Skills Challenge trophy in the finals, but Boston’s Jayson Tatum chucked a half-court shot to stun the crowd and steal the hardware. 

2019 NBA All-Star Skills Challenge: De'Aaron Fox bounced in first round

2019 NBA All-Star Skills Challenge: De'Aaron Fox bounced in first round

De'Aaron Fox's appearance at the Skills Challenge during NBA All-Star Saturday Night didn't last long, but it wasn't without a (somewhat) controversy.

Matched up against Atlanta Hawks rookie Trae Young, the Kings guard jumped to a big lead in the early going. He breezed through the ball-handling and passing portions, then dribbled the length of the court for a layup and then again for a 3-pointer.

Young missed all three of his passes, but he still advanced after using all three attempts. Fox sensed he had a big lead, and took his time jacking up threes. 

In between Fox's first and second attempt, Young pipped him with a one-legged 3-pointer. 

Fox didn't win, but ball eventually didn't lie, either. Young ultimately lost to Boston Celtics guard Jayson Tatum in the finals of the competition.

[RELATED: Kings icon Chris Webber named Basketball Hall of Fame finalist]

Despite the loss, Fox won't leave Charlotte empty-handed. He and Sacramento teammate Marvin Bagley III picked up a win in the Rising Stars game Friday night, and Fox might even have a (completely light-hearted) rivalry with Dallas Mavericks rookie Luka Doncic. 

Plus, a trip to the NBA's marquee midseason event isn't a bad consolation in and of itself, either.