The partnership will allow all NBA’s teams to compete in the esport league which is expected to launch next year.
The league will use Take-Two Interactive’s NBA 2K franchise which has been the official videogame of the NBA since the two struck a licensing deal in 1999.
Take-Two and the NBA said the esports league will operate with player salaries, marketing, product licensing and more.
While no franchises have officially announced that they will enter a team, the NBA’s commissioner, Adam Silver, said he expects around half of the 30 teams to participate in the inaugural season, but added that “eventually the plan is to have all 30 teams participating”.
He also touched on the structure saying that the esports league will most likely air on both digital and television, with championship fixtures being held in arenas following a bracketed playoff period.
All games will take place during the regular NBA season and will be promoted during broadcasts of the league.
Strauss Zelnick, chief executive of Take-Two, revealed more details. He said that team tryouts will not require competitors to travel, which gives the new league “enormous flexibility to find the best players”. Players drafted to teams will be represented in matches by avatars that reflect how they look in real life.
The NBA esports league builds on moves from individual NBA teams investing in esports such as the Philadelphia 76ers which purchased a controlling stake in two professional eSports franchises, Team Dignitas and Apex, which they merge under the banner Team Dignitas.
Sports leagues establishing esports businesses is becoming increasingly common with the French football league launching its own esports league which subsequently landed a broadcast agreement. The FA also launched a Fifa gaming tournament around the FA Cup.