Since its original incarnation in 1999, NBA 2K has breathed new life into the culture of basketball by proving to be on the pulse in its unprecedented, forward-thinking production of video games.

Capturing the sport in all its painstaking detail and lavish glory, the franchise has, in no small part, contributed to basketball’s current visibility around the world, entertaining fans across the generations with impeccable gameplay and placing gamers in the heart of the action year in year out. The good people over at NBA 2K have levelled up this year with NBA 2K23, its latest version that has just been released. Fronted by Phoenix Suns star Devin Booker, with Michael Jordan the cover star of the Legend edition, NBA 2K23 offers state-of-the-art gameplay while cultivating an immersive and wholly realistic experience. 

To celebrate the long-awaited release on UK soil, NBA 2K went all out on a lavish event on Sept. 8 in the heart of Shoreditch, hosted by Sky Sports and NBA 2K presenter, Mo Mooncey. There, VIP guests were invited to play the game and indulge in the many new features, including the Jordan challenges—which involves a series of scenarios, from his early days as a college star to his game-winning shot in the ‘98 NBA Finals—and the innovative MyPlayer mode, allowing for an in-depth, accurate player creation that minimises gamers’ ability to stack their created players with heavyweight statistics.

DJ AB$, meanwhile, provided a silky blend of rap, UK garage and Afrobeats to soundtrack the evening and have guests tapping their feet. Gameplay was handled in two rooms of the modern setting known as ‘The Apartment’ and partygoers were also treated to their own 2K memorabilia in the photo booth, posing with basketballs like they were fresh out of college as number one draft picks. The space also provided a hub for discussion around the game, the NBA and the general direction of the sport among casual fans and day ones. 

Akin to a community link-up, vibes were on 100 as the likes of grime star D Double E, rap risers V9 and Cristale, Love Island’s Michael Griffiths and personalities such as Craig Mitch, Sharky, DarkestMan, FelixThe1st, Elz The Witch, David Vujanic and Henrie Kwushue indulged in NBA culture—and free food! With every corner of the space adorned with the jerseys of cover star Devin Booker’s Phoenix Suns and legends cover star Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls—the backs of which had the names ‘Jamal’ and ‘Edwards’ printed on in memory of the late, great Jamal Edwards—the event pulled basketball fans and would-be fans alike in a communal moment, encapsulating the spirit of the franchise in all its splendour, while marrying it subtly with the dynamism of UK Black culture, validating its cause.

“It’s been a great turnout,” Mooncey tells us about the event. “It’s been great to see so many people passionate about the game. As soon as people started coming in, they started playing NBA 2K and, of course, the DJs providing the good vibes. It brings the culture together with the game—that’s what it’s all about.” Proving you don’t need to be a basketball head to enjoy what the game offers, the event proved to exceed its purpose of promoting the new release, serving as a mechanism for a deeper understanding of the culture among UK fans and those just starting to catch up to the game of basketball. “A lot of people at this event tonight have told me that they’ve never seen a basketball game or know anything about basketball, but they love to play NBA 2K,” says Mooncey. “And the same goes for so many of my friends—which I think is great, because not only does it help the game grow, it helps the sport of basketball grow as well.” 

Guests and visitors were equally enthralled by what they saw. “It’s been a dope time,” says D Double. “Being a basketball fan myself, seeing everyone here getting a flavour of the game and the NBA is good to see.” With the NBA’s growing popularity on UK shores, bridging a gap between here and its home in the USA, NBA 2K pulled out all the stops to ensure a memorable experience for all involved.

“Fans can expect some good times playing this game,” Mooncey adds. “If you’re playing with your friends or on your own, NBA 2K23 is probably the most open, in that they’ve evolved the WNBA features, which is huge for any women gamers and fans of the WNBA. They’ve got all of the old-school teams so older fans from any era can enjoy. Most importantly, though, gamers can look forward to being brought closer to the sport of basketball through the game.”

NBA 2K23 is out right now.