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.