Note: DIMER is hosting the NAPX Player Spotlight interviews, written and contributed by NAPX staff. The opinions expressed do not reflect the views of DIMER.
Every week, NAPX features one player from each console to be our Spotlight Player. Our goal is to reach out and learn about this year’s exceptional Pro-Am talents. Last week, we had the pleasure of interviewing BOHIO, on PS4, and CWay, on Xbox. This week we had the chance to hear from BearDaBeast23 on the Xbox side.
Bear began playing the game when the first ever NBA 2K was released, but first got into the competitive scene in 2K17. His team at the time, Road to Legends, quickly caught the eyes of many as they earned a spot in the Road to the All Star Tournament. Despite falling short in the Xbox finals to heavy favorite Still Trill, Bear gained a tremendous amount of recognition for his great play in the tourney. He still considers that RTTASG team his family, but he eventually moved on because his dedication to the game was greater than his the dedication of his teammates. Throughout his time in the competitive scene he has played with a number of different teams, but his current home is Island Gang, currently ranked number one on the Xbox leaderboards,
Bear and his Island Gang squad continue to work on their craft by matching up with other top teams on a nightly basis. Competing in the MPBA and WR, Bear has won a number of different awards in part of his creative way to score. He displayed his offensive talent in last year’s combine by averaging an absurd 40 PPG at the SF position. All that considered, you can only imagine his feel of disappointment in not making the league. In interviewing Bear, I couldn’t help but ask what motivates him to try to qualify again. Furthermore, I also got the chance to learn what making the NBA 2K League would mean to him, his experiences in 2K19 and his team’s expectations.
NAPX: What brought you into playing 2k and what year did you first start playing?
Bear: Vintagejkey introduced me to the game, but that was a long time ago. [Allen] Iverson was on the cover of [NBA 2K1, on] Dreamcast.
NAPX: How did you find your way into the pro-am/comp scene? Is there anyone you give credit to in your growth as a player?
Bear: Road to legends started in 16 and we got into it because we heard about the money on offer. I can’t really give credit to one player; I can say they’ve all helped me because I’ve learned something and put something in my game from almost all of the top players. We found our way through it by just climbing the leaderboards I’d say.
NAPX: Do you think that Nate making the league last year and your eventual departure from Island Gang set your team back at all?
Bear: I actually think it helped the team out. He went and played WELL on the big stage, so that pushes our team brand. He talks us up and puts in good words for IG so that helps as well. Once he left we stopped it and it allowed everyone to venture out and play other builds, learn the game even more from different positions, and connect with other guys in the community.
NAPX: What made you leave Road to Legends for Island Gang despite making a deep run in the 2k17 All Star Tournament?
Bear: I actually walked away from that tournament with no regrets. We gave it all we had and came up one game short of our goal, but we shocked the world, so no regrets there. We left it all on the court—RTL is literally family, like blood, and they know I play this to be the best. They understood the amount of time I wanted to invest, and they couldn’t invest that time because of their families—which is understandable—so I went to “team air Jordan” right before Nate got me on Island Gang!
Nate should be a car salesman, by the way!
NAPX: Despite your crazy stats in last year’s combine, you were somehow not picked for the 102. What motivates you to try again?
Bear: The love of the game motivates me. Being the competitor I am, I won’t allow myself to quit. That goes for anything in life. I like to say I can adjust to any situation, so I’m kind of making it a challenge to adjust off the court as well. I’ll always be able to compete with the top Dawgs, skill wise. I just have to adjust to the other stuff.
NAPX: What’s the focus of your team right now? The league, MPBA, WR, any tournaments?
Bear: Well right now we’re trying to build the best unit in the world! We believe we are the best and we’re looking forward to everything because we want to prove that we have 5 league players on one team! People write us off a lot and don’t give us the credit we deserve, so we want to go out and prove everyone wrong!
Bear: NAPX: You have had some big games and big wins so far already in 2k19, which game do you feel you had your best performance?
Bear: Idk if I can point to just one game yet I’m actually still learning a lot but if I had to point to a series I would say it was against “no days off” I had it clicking on all cylinders. the transition from 18 to 19 is a little different and I can’t give away my secrets just yet But I can’t just give you a specific game. we play so many it’s hard to point to one.
NAPX: Who is your favorite player/team to matchup against, and why?
Bear: I can’t give credit to just one team or player, because I honestly like so many. I’ve had the chance to hoop with a lot of the guys in the community and I’ve watched so much film on top teams that I can’t narrow it down. I can try, but I know I’m going to miss a few. As far as teams go, Still Trill is one of my favorites and I love playing top rank. I love competing with Space jam and Slight Work. I haven’t played GFG a lot but I like their group of players. Trying not to miss anyone… I absolutely love the younger guys coming up that weren’t really around in 16,17—the Bangs, Vandiis, Kinas of the world. I really study the PGs in the community. And I look at the top 5 players at each other position and study their game as well. I kind of know how the PGs all like to play and I like so many of them and their games! Smaller teams like CWay, Pack, Dom, Rob, Summers, Westbrook are guys I love to compete with they always make for fun competition. But the team I love beating more than anyone is MAJOR BUMP! That warms my heart.
NAPX: With Lockdowns playing a big role this year, who do you feel has given you the most trouble as an opposing lock, if any?
Bear: OOC SLIM has probably given me the most trouble this year. We’ve played multiple times and he’s been good. It’s all about matchups and for some reason I’m a good match up for him. They are all good though, all are really good players (the top locks) and they all make it tough! Really tough!!
NAPX: I assume the ultimate goal is making the NBA 2K League this year. What do you feel you bring to the table for a 2K League team, and why should you be drafted? What drives you to make the league and what would being drafted mean to you?
Bear: I answered a lot of the the league stuff but that’s the goal. I can be the piece a team is missing. I can honestly say I have great IQ so I can play any role. I’m open to play any position in the league and I believe I can help any team become a better one. I can play a big role or maximize an off-ball position. I know I’ve had a sketchy, past but being someone with IQ I recognize that and understand that I had to improve. and I believe I have. I believe I should be drafted because “I” feel like I’m the best player in the world (others view me as “a” top player). I don’t believe the league denies my talents; they need me to improve off the court and not make stupid mistakes.
NAPX: Which NBA 2K League team do you feel you would be a best fit for currently, and why?
Bear: I can play with any team. I played with my guys (cousin vintagejkey, brother keyawesume, best friend IRL summersj11) and competed against the best in the world in 17 RTTASG. Then played with a new group in 18 (island gang) and lost in the championship (against a team that had league players on the bench) in MPBA game 5, in a best-of-five. I can play and succeed with anyone; any team that needs a sharp, secondary ball handler, lock down, wing player or PG will be a good fit for me. I can adjust to any situation and it would be an honor to just get in the league—I really don’t care where I wind up.
NAPX: Do you think your team can compete with anyone? What can we expect from Island Gang?
Bear: Of course, I believe we can compete with anyone. Doesn’t matter who is on the other side. Give me the island boys on my team any day. I got faith. My boys and I believe we have top 5 at every position in the world. People will never give us that credit, but I honestly believe that. And if the seasons start to come around just look for island gang to bring home one of those chips.
With the NBA 2K League qualifiers rolling around you can only imagine Bear and his teammates will continue to grind until their dreams come true. Last year only one Island Gang member was selected for the 102, NateKahl, who won the inaugural NBA 2K League Finals with Knicks Gaming and was named Finals MVP. But only time will tell which Island Gang member, or perhaps even all members, is next.