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Game(r) on: 17 NBA teams to play in esports league

More than half of the NBA's 30 teams will join the inaugural season of a league based on the popular NBA 2K video game.

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - SEPTEMBER 16: A Basketball court set up in Trafalgar Square for the official launch of the NBA 2K17 (video game) which is out on PC, PS4 and Xbox One on September 16, 2016 in London, England.
Amer Ghazzal / Barcroft Images / Barcroft Media via Getty Images

The Golden State Warriors are in.

So are the Cleveland Cavaliers, Boston Celtics, Dallas Mavericks and the New York Knicks.

They're among 17 teams that will participate in the NBA 2K esports league's inaugural season, set to debut in 2018, the National Basketball Association said Thursday.

The news comes about two months after the league and Take-Two Interactive said they were creating a competitive esports league centered on Take-Two's popular NBA 2K video game. It will be the first such league run by a US professional sports organization.

The teams will have five human players competing in video games stretching out over the course of an actual NBA season. There also will be playoffs and a championship round.

"This is the first step in what promises to be an extraordinary league, bringing together the world's best gamers and showcasing elite competition on an international stage," Brendan Donohue, the NBA 2K esports league's managing director, said in a statement. "Our teams have expressed tremendous enthusiasm for esports, and we are looking forward to forming something truly unique for basketball and gaming fans around the globe."

Other notable teams joining include the Philadelphia 76ers, which last year became the first US pro sports franchise to enter the esports world when it acquired two teams and merged them under the Team Dignitas imprint.

The Sixers will compete against the Washington Wizards, Milwaukee Bucks, Memphis Grizzlies and Sacramento Kings, which all have stakes in esports teams. Mavs owner Mark Cuban, Wizards owner Ted Leonsis, Grizzlies owner Robert Pera and Kings owner Vivek Ranadive all come from tech backgrounds.

Ranadive said in a statement Thursday that utilizing technology to grow the game of basketball is core to the Kings' mission.

"We're excited to join the (2K esports) league from the beginning, work with the NBA to reach new audiences around the globe and provide our voice to the conversation about the future of sports," he said.

NBA 2K17 has sold nearly 7 million units and is on pace to become the best-selling NBA 2K title yet, according to Take-Two.

The NBA said it will make more announcements, including about a combine, or pre-draft audition, to scout out the best gamers and a draft itself.

Here's the complete list of teams in the NBA 2K league:

  • 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

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