By John Askounis/ firstname.lastname@example.org
On Friday night, the Dallas Mavericks defeated the Phoenix Suns, 150-136, with Luka Doncic scoring 50 points and dishing out 19 assists. It wasn’t an official 2019-20 NBA regular-season game but was instead the first NBA2K matchup organized by the Suns, in their effort to continue playing scheduled games virtually despite the action on the courts suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Suns and the Mavericks were supposed to meet on Saturday at the American Airlines Center. Replacing Doncic and the rest of the NBA stars were Antonio “UniversalPhenom” Saldivar for the Suns and Lawrence “Buddy” Norman for the Mavs. Both play in the NBA2K League for the Memphis Grizzlies and the Mavericks respectively.
“This was put together in as little as five hours, and the outcome was beyond expectations,” said Saldivar to ESPN. “We wanted to give the fans something to look forward to with everything going on and just try to interact with them as much as possible and try to bring both gaming and real-life sports together.”
The stream consistently drew 4,500 to 5,000 viewers topping its Twitch audience at 12,000. The NBA2K League averaged 4,663 viewers in 2019, with the finals averaging more than 14,000.
“We are going to continue to play games,” added Saldivar with the Suns announcing that they will collide virtually with the Minnesota Timberwolves next week, “Might not be me playing every time, maybe someone bigger, maybe someone else, but we are working to always have me involved.”