Last Man Standing

I’ve played basketball nearly my entire life.

It all started in second grade when my dad got me into the game. I played all the way through high school, whether it was AAU, middle school, travel ball, it was constant. I was actually the third-ranked player in the state of New Hampshire up until my sophomore year of high school.

Right up until I tore my ACL, MCL and PCL in my knee.

I could hardly stand, let alone walk for nearly three months following surgery. It took me a year-and-a-half just to get back on the basketball court.

As soon as I injured my knee, I started playing a lot of NBA 2K – that was the beginning. It was really all I had to do and it was either that or Call of Duty.

I was finally able to get back on the basketball court for my junior year but I ended up tearing my meniscus that year. It was definitely unfortunate.

The injury forced me to miss my junior year but I got back on the court by the end of the next season. I pushed through adversity with physical therapy and managed to overcome it, especially since I thought I would have never been able to play basketball again.

I was glad to be able to play again, but I knew I wasn’t the same player I had been before; I didn’t have the same speed, acceleration, vertical or any of that.

After a casual introduction, I started taking 2K seriously when they announced the NBA 2K16 Road to the Finals tournament, which was a $250,000 prize pool event. My team ended up making the console finals on the Xbox side against a team called GFG that year.

Unfortunately, we lost in overtime by three points. That really was a heartbreaking loss.

I didn’t get over it for a whole year, up until the next tournament, which was the Road to the All-Star Game. Luckily for me, I managed to redeem myself from the year prior with my team, Still Trill.

I played alongside Dimez, Swizurk, Kenny and Timelycook, all of whom went on to be drafted to the 2K League as well. That definitely was an incredible squad.

Winning the Road to the All-Star Game with Still Trill created a bond that I still cherish to this day. Kenny and I have been friends ever since that tournament; we sat together on draft day and now we are teammates again.

Being able to be on the same team on Raptors Uprising GC, I couldn’t ask for a better teammate and leader. Kenny is just one of those guys that give it all to win, like myself and the rest of our team. He and I have built a brotherhood and friendship that can’t be broken.

I’ll never forget that experience; being able to go to New Orleans and meet five NBA players after we won was incredible. Being the last team standing and winning that $250,000 tournament was life-changing, especially as they actually announced the formation of the NBA 2K League the very same day.

It was at that moment, just after our tournament success, that I knew that this was something I wanted to make into a career.

My experience with Still Trill helped to prepare me for the NBA 2K League. That day we played in front of a live studio audience – which is something we now do for every 2K League game – made me accustomed to that aspect of professional play.

We’re all human, so there are obviously nerves when you play a live game. That’s normal. For me though, it’s probably less stressful than it is for others because I’ve been in that environment before. It means I’m able to help out the guys on my team, who might have been initially nervous, get used to it.

The experience of playing in the NBA 2K League has been incredible. Especially for me, moving to a new country has been awesome. I’ve gotten the opportunity to go to Toronto and move in with five guys who share my passion.

Toronto has been great to us; everyone has been treating us really well. This is actually my first time in Canada, so it’s definitely something new and something I’ll never forget.

There’s not a whole lot of difference to living in Toronto compared to being in the U.S apart from a little bit of slang and a couple of different food dishes. I was able to try poutine for the first time when I moved here, so that was something new for me, but in general, the transition has felt very smooth.

We fly out to New York every weekend to play our games and that’s taken some getting used to but, overall, the experience here has been great. I’m going to be upset when the time comes to move on.

We started with a record of 2-5, but we easily could have been 5-2 instead. Just a couple of unfortunate possessions and overtime losses in games that could have gone either way have hurt us badly.

We look at the standings, knowing that we’re better than our record shows. That’s why when we were 1-5 we still didn’t worry, we just trusted the process.

We’re really confident that we can turn this season around. We have already taken a big step in starting a win streak here. Ultimately, we think we can get to 5-5 by the start of the next tournament, which means we have to go undefeated in these next few games.

Everyone that knows me, knows that I want to do what’s best for the team. Whatever is asked of me, I’ll do. I’ve played center, power forward, and now I’m playing small forward. Whatever archetype that means I have to use, I’ll do it. I’m not worried about what people say – ‘oh, he’s not putting up big statistics, he’s not living up to expectations.’

That doesn’t matter to me. What matters to me is winning.

The goal is always just to win the next tournament, and we want to win the playoffs at the end of the year.

I know what it takes to recover from a setback and as long as we can win this season, whether it be in tournaments or the playoffs, that’s all that matters.

I want us to be the last team standing at the end of the year.

Image Credit: NBA 2K League & Raptors Uprising

Start the discussion

to comment