A total of 17 NBA teams have agreed to participate in the inaugural NBA 2K league in 2018.
The hope is that the eLeague will eventually contain 30 NBA 2K teams, each owned by one of the real-life NBA franchises.
The NBA 2K eLeague will feature teams of five players battling it out over a five-month season that includes a regular season, playoffs, and a finals matchup.
The NBA teams that will let their virtual logos and jerseys appear in the esports league are:
◆ Boston Celtics
◆ Cleveland Cavaliers
◆ Dallas Mavericks
◆ Detroit Pistons
◆ Golden State Warriors
◆ Indiana Pacers
◆ Memphis Grizzlies
◆ Miami Heat
◆ Milwaukee Bucks
◆ New York Knicks
◆ Orlando Magic
◆ Philadelphia 76ers
◆ Portland Trail Blazers
◆ Sacramento Kings
◆ Toronto Raptors
◆ Utah Jazz
◆ Washington Wizards
There will be an initial draft of esports players, and each NBA franchise will pick five to play as its eLeague team. These players will draw salaries, train, and essentially treat the NBA 2K eLeague as a full-time job during the season.
Real NBA players will not be used in-game. Instead, competitors will design their own character to play with.
The league will stage events, sell tickets for fans, create merchandise, sign sponsors and negotiate licensing rights so that fans can watch games remotely.
Some NBA teams already own esports teams. Last year, the 76ers purchased esports giant Team Dignitas, which has teams for game including League of Legends, Smite, and CS:GO.
Owners of the Bucks, Grizzlies and Warriors have also all invested in esports teams and players, and several former NBA players including Shaquille O'Neal own or have a stake in esports teams.