When you get right down to it, professional athletes are basically kids at heart. After all, they are paid millions of dollars to play a kid’s game, the same game that you and your friends partake in on the playground after the school day is done.
Should it come as any surprise then to learn that several of the NBA top players are also very active gamers? In fact, some of them are so talented at video games that they participate in tournaments against the world’s elite gamers. In fact, when COVID-19 brought a halt to the 2019-20 NBA regular season, the league organized an NBA 2K tournament between some of the NBA’s top gamers. It was even broadcast on ESPN.
Who are the NBA’s best bets when it comes to the world of video games? Well, any of these guys would definitely be a candidate to be crowned king of the NBA gamers.
The Charlotte Hornets player who is equally at home at small forward or power forward, is just as comfortable in front of a gaming console. The 11-year NBA veteran began playing games like Duck Hunt and Contra.
Eventually, Gordon started entering local Halo tournaments with his squad. He’s since branched out into online gaming, playing Overwatch, Hearthstone, League of Legends, and Fortnite. Hayward even has his own gaming website, where he provides highlights of his gaming ventures and insights into why he thinks gaming is a worthwhile pursuit.
“I fondly remember sitting in my living room for hours and hours playing that Zelda game,” Hayward wrote in an article on the Players’ Tribune. “The time would pass by in an instant because I’d be so focused and mesmerized.
“Some of my best memories growing up were playing these games with my dad. A lot of people my age have similar stories. To us, video games have never been thought of as a fad or something strictly for “nerds.” They were just fun moving puzzles that required hand-eye coordination and an active mind.”
“Gordon Hayward” by Wikimedia is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0
The small forward and shooting guard for the Los Angeles Clippers is a big fan of NBA 2K, Destiny 2 and Fortnite.
George boasts that he is the best NBA 2K player among NBA players.
“To be honest, I really haven’t had a lot of challenges,” he told 2K sports. “I’m pretty good.”
For the Minnesota Timberwolves center, his love of gaming began as a child in the arcade at the Pizza Hut where his family would go for dinner. “I remember back in the day, there was such a thing as an arcade,” Towns explained to ESPN. “There were a lot of arcades, but for me, the arcade was Pizza Hut.”
Towns has been known to stay up all night playing Call Of Duty, Fortnite, or PUBG. “I love playing all types of games,” Towns said. “I’ll play everything.
“I’d even say possibly I’m one of the best gamers in the NBA. I play everything. I play every single type of genre game.
“Video games (are) a great way to bring the world together.”
The Sacramento Kings guard sees video game play as a way to unwind and de-stress. “It really just comes from me playing video games when I was younger,” Fox told Sports Illustrated of his life-long passion for video gaming. “My brother was a huge gamer back when he was in high school, and I started off with Call of Duty pretty early and of course sports games like NBA 2K, Madden, a lot of racing games and fighting games, so I played a lot of games.”
These days, Fox curates his own YouTube channel dedicated to gaming as a way to interact with fans who are also gamers. “A lot of my audience is kids a lot younger than me or around the same age,” Fox said. “It’s those people who play video games.”
“De’ Aaron Fox” by Wikimedia is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0
Growing up in Australia, Philadelphia 76ers guard Simmons was an avid gamer. “I’ve been playing (video games) my whole life,” Simmons told ESPN. “The first game I really got into was Resistance for Playstation. That was the shooter I played. And then from there I started playing Call of Duty, picked all those up and eventually got into PC gaming a little later (with Counter-Strike), PUBG, a little bit of Fortnite — not too much Fortnite, because I’m not into building stuff. It’s too much.
“I think it’s cool to game now. I think people thought it wasn’t cool to game and be out there and let everyone know you’re a nerd about how much you play; but for me, I love it.”