New York has long been known as the Mecca of Basketball; well what about NBA 2K? It seems the area is also ripe for talent cultivation on the gamer side, as on Saturday no less than ten local prospects made their way to the stage during the four rounds of the third annual NBA 2K League Draft, presented by Panera Bread; and the overall first puck was a former high school hoopster from Irvington, NY John “JBM” Moscone, who was selected by Wizards District Gaming and their ownership group, which was represented on site by Monumental SVP Zach Leonsis.
In meeting the media after the selection, Moscone, a 6-3ish graduate of Irvington High School (he was slated to play guard), said he was both humbled and honored by the pick, which ESPN’s hoops guru Adrian Wojnarowski, broke on ESPN just minutes before the announcement (another subtle connection between NBA and NBA 2k). “I kept looking at (NBA 2K League Commissioner) Brendan Donahue when he went to the podium to see if he looked my way but he didn’t and it took a second or two to register that I was the first pick and had to make my way up,” Moscone said. “It’s the best testament to what I’ve done and what I can do and I am looking forward to where this takes me.”
The Action Network’s Darren Rovell tweeted a picture of Monumental senior vice president of strategic initiatives Zach Leonsis and JBM seconds afterwards as well, mentioning that the top pick will make $35,000 + prize money based on mid-season and end of the year tournaments, and that will rise if Wizards DG moves up in the standings after a middle of the road finish last season.
“We’re incredibly excited to add JBM to the Wizards District Gaming organization,” said Wizards DG Andrew McNeil via email on Sunday. “ We think his skills on the sticks and ability to make the players around him better, along with his maturity and professionalism away from the game, make him a valuable addition to our team and easily worthy of being the #1 overall pick in this year’s NBA 2K League Draft.”
For those who don’t know, a growing number of teams gave put NBA2K League into an area where talent, and training crosses over with their traditional sports teams. Wizards District Gaming is a key part of Monumental Basketball, the new umbrella that includes the Wizards, the WNBA Champion Mystics and the Capital City Go-Go of the NBA G League. The players live and train in DC, where Moscone indicated he will head this week, and also use shared services with team on the health and wellness side. It is sports convergence that didn’t even exist three years ago when the NBA 2K League first launched.
For Moscone, he even got his first taste of celebrity, crossing paths with Def Jam recording artist 10k.Caash, and meeting the cast of the new Ben Affleck basketball themed film The Way Back, in the VIP area following his pick. Several of the films young stars, Will Ropp, Melvin Gregg, Brandon Wilson and Charles Lott Jr., are NBA 2K players and came to check out the packed house on Saturday night.
“It is amazing to see the power of what the league is doing, and to think I can be a part of this, and help build the team in Washington through my hard work, is very powerful,” he added. Would he have liked to stay closer to home with either the Knicks (who had Allan Houston select Christopher “Duck’ Charles with the second pick) or Nets? “Didn’t matter, I just want to get going and keep improving what I do,” Moscone concluded. “I have friends who went to George Washington University and it’s a great sports city, hopefully we can bring another championship to a city that has had several recently.”
Championships are not something which New York has been known for un any sport recently, maybe NBA 2K, for the Knicks, Nets or even…gasp Washington with their new local star, might be the answer.