On February 9th, 2017, the NBA announced a partnership with eSports publishing distributor Take-Two Interactive Software to bring the successful NBA 2K franchise into the competitive space of video game championships.
The NBA 2K franchise is populated with NBA simulation games where gamers can play on their favorite teams. Although the franchise currently has an online playing mode, this will be the first official eSports league that is operated by a professional sports league. The league will consist of teams of five paid players. Each of the teams will represent an NBA franchise but the players comprising the teams will be user-created avatars to avoid an unbalanced team of NBA all-stars.
The NBA 2K eLeague is expected to launch in 2018 and ambitions for the league are high. According to USA Today, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said that at some point, an eSports draft similar to the NBA draft could be in the future, with NBA teams drafting gamers the same way they draft players. As the NBA taps into the eSports well, it hopes to extend its brand and interest to a new kind of viewer.