The NBA 2K League’s 22nd team is taking steps to find its first manager.
Charlotte has started its hiring process and has begun to schedule follow-up interviews after conducting initial phone calls with at least eight applicants. Over 260 people applied for the job via TeamWorkOnline, according to the site. The Hornets have the luxury of being methodical about its hiring process by virtue of jumping into the league so early in the league’s season cycle. The early hiring process also signals the franchise’s commitment to joining the league. Charlotte is expected to begin the second round of interviews in several weeks.
The league announced on April 3 that Charlotte would officially become the league’s first 2020 expansion team, with Nicole Blackman, the Hornets’ Senior Manager of Innovation and Esports joining the league broadcast to discuss the announcement. Several days later, the team posted an opening for the team manager position.
“The popularity and growth of esports both in the U.S. and internationally continue to rise at a tremendous rate,” said Hornets President & Vice Chairman Fred Whitfield upon the franchise’s announcement. “We look forward to joining the NBA 2K League in 2020 and bringing the exciting, fast-paced and entertaining esports action to the fans of Charlotte.”
Charlotte native Michael “Stambreezy” Stam, who played in the NBA 2K League in 2018 for Jazz Gaming, has posted indirectly about his interview on Twitter. Stambreezy subsequently confirmed his interview to DIMER.
The former Jazz player is not the only candidate with league playing experience. Several current NBA 2K League players have also interviewed with the Hornets.
“The longevity aspect is huge,” one current player who moved on in the interview process told DIMER. “The lifespan of a player is relatively short and my interests and talents while at the 2K League level will not always be, and my skillset may be even more suited to a higher level. The interview process is similar to the team interviews the players participated in before getting drafted. Each team has key targets they are looking for.”
The team also considered several prominent community members, many of whom have been part of the competitive NBA 2K Pro-Am scene for years.
“To have the Hornets join the rest of the teams in the league is amazing,” Khalid “Gstar” Said, a former draft analyst who had an initial interview with the team but did not progress to the second round of interviews, told DIMER. “Not only does it expand the league but it also produces opportunities. I was stunned when they approached me about a job with the league, it’s always exciting when you’re a top candidate for a team’s vacancy.”
In 2018, four NBA franchises joined the league as expansion teams for the 2019 season. Only eight NBA teams remain without an NBA 2K League franchise: the Denver Nuggets, New Orleans Pelicans, Houston Rockets, San Antonio Spurs, Los Angeles Clippers, Chicago Bulls, Phoenix Suns and Oklahoma City Thunder.
“We are excited to welcome Charlotte to the NBA 2K League as the first expansion team for our third season,” said NBA 2K League Managing Director Brendan Donohue said at the time of the announcement. “With North Carolina’s rich basketball history and the Hornets organization’s commitment to innovation and fan engagement, we know they will be a great addition to the NBA 2K League family.”
The deadline for NBA franchises to apply for an expansion slot in the NBA 2K League is May 31.