Since its inception in 1999, few gaming franchises have permeated popular culture like 'NBA 2K', and even fewer can claim to match its longevity. The fall release of ‘NBA 2K19’ marks the game’s 20-year anniversary, and to celebrate the milestone, Complex is dropping a three-part documentary series entitled ‘The 2K Dynasty: 20 Years in the Making’, told through the lens of the biggest 2K celebrity stans on the planet.
On the third and final installment of The 2K Dynasty, Complex examines just how much the iconic video game franchise has transcended its digital realm...and basketball, itself. Rappers, influencers, the latest sneaker drops, and cinematic storylines are all included in NBA 2K. So too are the fire soundtracks, curated by LeBron James, JAY-Z, Travis Scott, and more.
The gaming experience is so detailed now, so all-encompassing, that the real-life players who are simulated can’t get enough of it. Dudes like Paul George, Josh Hart, and Kevin Knox are obsessed. According to game developer Michael Howard, others utilize 2K to study the tendencies of their opponents. But there’s one common thread linking NBAers who play 2K: They care a lot about their overall rating, often feeling slighted by a number they deem to be low.
Look at Hassan Whiteside. He was upset about [his rating] and started playing a lot better. Kyrie was upset about his rating, [too].
“Look at Hassan Whiteside,” rapper Pardison Fontaine says. “He was upset about [his rating], and started playing a lot better. Kyrie was upset about his rating, [too]. Dame Lillard takes it personally.”
Perhaps the greatest testament to 2K’s power and popularity is the invention of the NBA 2K League—a professional eSports league boasting the best 2K players in the world. Over 60,000 fans streamed the inaugural finals event (held last summer) live on Twitch, and heading into its second season, the league is expanding from 17 to 21 teams. The influence of 2K continues to grow at a torrid pace.