Nearly two decades ago when NBA 2K released for the first time, few if any could have predicted the culture of its own the game has become. Wesley Acuff similarly didn’t intend to become a general manager/head coach of one of the first 21 NBA 2K League franchises when the game’s retail build debuted in 2000.
Regardless, the game has become a worldwide phenomenon and Acuff is employed in that role for Hawks Talon GC. As Hawks Talon GC’s first season in the NBA 2K League winds down, Acuff recounted his journey in the game and take on the league.
DIMER: How did you get to be the general manager and head coach of Hawks Talon?
Wes Acuff: Before joining the Hawks, I spent the previous 10 years working for NBA Digital. I always loved the game of 2K. I played it casually since Iverson was on the cover. I started to get more into the competitive scene right before the league was announced. I qualified as one of the top 250 players in the world before the first season but ultimately I didn’t make the league that season. That’s when I decided I would rather go into management and pursued the position with Hawks Talon GC.
D: Besides managing the team in games, what else fills your time as the GM/head coach of Hawks Talon?
WA: We pretty much have the same duties as a coach from any other sport. We have to schedule and run practices, draw up strategies and game plan. There’s also the business aspect, managing the travel, player appearances, event planning, sponsorships and so much more.
D: What in your opinion qualifies a person to be a GM/head coach of an NBA 2K League franchise?
WA: I think common basketball knowledge combined with some experience on the sticks as a gamer is very important. You need to understand the mechanics of the game to understand why certain things work.
D: How did playing the game on a high level prepare you for leading an NBA 2K League franchise?
WA: I have faced some of the greatest players and coaches who are experts at this game. That has allowed me the opportunity to battle against some of the best, challenging me to come up with better game plans and strategies to elevate my knowledge of the game.
D: As the league gets older, do you think there will be more opportunities for former players to become coaches?
WA: Absolutely. I think it’s a natural transition.
D: Not all NBA 2K League franchises have coaches. Do you think it’s simply a matter of what works best for each team or do you think having a coach gives the teams that do an advantage?
WA: I think that boils down to what works for each organization. For us it’s good to have some guidance out there for the players. Someone who can provide an educated perspective on the game from a third party point of view.
D: What is one part of your job fans of the NBA 2K League are most likely to have misconceptions about?
WA: That it’s easy. That I just show up on game day and watch the players play. There are hours and hours of preparation time that go into the season and the coach is working around the clock.
Though the first season for Hawks Talon GC didn’t turn out as Acuff hoped, professionals who are devoted to the game and experienced in management like him will ensure the league continues to grow.