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The NBA is forming a professional league for basketball's most popular video game

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IMAGE DISTRIBUTED FOR NBA 2K - Team GFG, right, and team Drewkerbockers, left, seen at the NBA 2K16 Road to the Finals championship event on Wednesday, June 1, 2016, in Los Angeles. Two teams of gamers go head to head during a competition that merges simulation basketball with eSports for a shot at $250,000 and a trip to the 2015-2016 NBA Finals. (Photo by Dan Steinberg/Invision for NBA 2K/AP Images)

The NBA and the makers of the NBA 2K series, Take-Two Interactive Software, announced that they will work together to create a professional competitive league beginning in 2018.

Each of the 30 NBA franchises will own an e-version of their team.

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IMAGE DISTRIBUTED FOR 2K - Pictured from left to right, Ernie Johnson, Shaquille O'Neal, Spike Lee, Anthony Davis, James Harden and Steph Curry tell all at the NBA 2K16 Uncensored Premiere Event at Marquee on Monday, Sept. 21, 2015, in New York. (Photo by Stuart Ramson/Invision for 2K/AP Images)

The players will be selected via an official draft, from which they will receive a full-time salary and training. They will be given avatars designed in the game, and will not be playing as the NBA players as originally implemented.

The season will be similar to the actual basketball season, being 5 weeks long with regulation matches. It will be followed by playoffs and championship games that will match that of the NBA.

Events will be hosted by the league, and merchandise and sponsorships will be organized in accordance with these new teams as a way to generate a greater fanbase. Other structural details will be announced in the future.

This helps to legitimize eSports and paves the way for other sports franchises and leagues to follow. More and more teams are beginning to sponsor gaming organizations, such as the NHL's Boston Bruins, who just today picked up Splyce.


Even with NBA stars and teams being the among the first to invest in eSports, this announcement is the first time that a whole professional league will be doing so.


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