Pacers Gaming eSports team begins play in NBA 2K League next month

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INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) – If you want to be a professional basketball player, you don't need a ball in your hands to dribble and shoot. Skills with a game controller can get you drafted and playing for the Pacers.

The newest professional sports team in Indianapolis begins play next month, but fans cannot attend their games. Pacers Gaming competes and fans watch online in the NBA 2K League.

The team practices basketball six days a week for several hours, sitting in chairs in front of a computer screen.

"It's a thing now,” said Bryant Colon, Pacers Gaming small forward. “It's kind of crazy to think that we're playing a virtual sports league in a real league when there's a real NBA and then there's 2K."

Colon, whose gamer tag is WoLF 74, was the Pacers Gaming top draft pick, 13th overall, in the inaugural NBA 2K draft April 4. The 22-year-old from New York leads a team preparing to begin play May 1st.

"You've got young kids that are now looking for other outlets to be involved with teams and to compete,” said Kelly Krauskopf, President of Pacers Gaming. “It's a terrific new world, really. It's a terrific new way to experience sports and experience teamwork."

First round draft picks earn $35,000, the rest of the players $32,000 for the six-month season - plus prize money, housing, medical insurance and a retirement plan.

"This will be my 14th year making money playing video games, so to me it's old news,” said George Polk, gamer tag Frosty the Truth. “But to everybody else it's a big thing. I love the exposure that eSports is continuing to have."

Frosty the Truth is 30 years old, married with a one-year-old daughter in California and another job with a technology consulting firm. He planned to play college basketball when an injury sidelined him. He started playing video games during his recovery and was hooked. He plays power forward for Pacers Gaming.

Director of Esports Operations and Pacers Gaming head coach Cody Parrent said he didn’t draft any of the six players out of their parents’ basement.

"We have multiple guys with college degrees, said Parrent. “WoLF is finishing up his degree. In two weeks he graduates with a computer science degree. All of these guys are active. They have a good head on their shoulders and that's why I picked them."

Can they play real basketball?

"I can make a layup for sure,” said WoLF with a chuckle. “I never played organized basketball, surprisingly. But I did play college football."

The 17 teams in the NBA 2K League will gather in one studio for games. Fans watch online on Twitch.

"Basketball is such a huge sport now in every country, I think there will be a natural interest in it,” said Frosty the Truth. “Maybe people won't understand at first. But I think the more and more it goes on, it will definitely take off."

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