Lakers Gaming announced in late November that Kris Dellarciprete, who formerly played for Pistons GT under the gamertag iiNsaniTTy, will become the franchise’s first designated head coach in the 2020 season.
Join us in welcoming #LakersGaming Head Coach, @iiNsaniTTy! https://t.co/gNGLFnIPpz
I linked up with the rookie coach in order for the community, as well as myself, to get to know him on a more personal level.
Editor’s note: this interview has been lightly edited for grammar and style purposes.
Some people define “insanity” as doing the same thing over and over again but expecting a different result. iiNsaniTTy has been your PSN and your moniker in the league. What does it mean to you?
Honestly, I made my Xbox gamer tag back in the Halo 3 days. Halo 3 was the first taste of “competitive esports,” and back then, I had no idea how much the scene was going to explode in the upcoming decade. I probably went through about 10 or so tags before settling on iiNsaniTTy, and there was no true meaning behind it other than making it look cool so I would be more respected in lobbies. It seems silly now, but it’s something that has stuck with me over the years, and whenever I’m asked this question, it always brings me back and makes me realize and appreciate just how far competitive gaming has evolved in such a short amount of time.
I see that you graduated from Temple University, which is just down the street from my house here in Philadelphia. How would you describe your time there? What are some of your most iconic memories from your time at TU?
Wow, that’s awesome! Hopefully, you’re just as much of an avid Philly sports fan as me! I grew up about 20 minutes from the city of Philadelphia, so from a very young age, I was drawn to the city and all it has to offer. Being able to attend such a diverse, forward-thinking university really opened my eyes to a whole new world of possibilities, and I couldn’t be more grateful for my time spent there. I was lucky enough to be roommates with friends from high school, so that made that transition process a lot smoother than it is for some people. I was also fortunate to be able to have my car on campus so that I could easily drive home any time I felt homesick or needed to get some laundry done (only half kidding, of course)! My favorite memory of Temple, however, has to be attending Saturday football games at the Linc. Temple football made a ton of noise during my time there, and it made it that much sweeter going to games in the same stadium as the Eagles play, and being able to be a part of the student section and with it all the chaos that ensues!
Going from getting your bachelor’s degree to being a full-time head coach in esports had to be a great ride. For those that don’t know you, when did you graduate? Are you the youngest coach in the league?
It’s definitely been a crazy ride, and I feel like my life has evolved and changed for the better each year since graduation. I graduated from Temple in May of 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in marketing. I’m not the youngest coach in the NBA 2K League, but I am the first coach who has transitioned from being a player, and for that, I am extremely humbled and proud. I hope that I inspire more league players to follow in my path once their playing careers are over!
What got you into the game of basketball?
I’ve been a basketball fan, sports fan in general, for as long as I can remember. My earliest memory of basketball was watching the Allen Iverson-led 76ers defeat the vaunted (ironically enough) Lakers team in Game 1 of the 2001 NBA Finals, a team that had Shaq in his prime and a young, flourishing Kobe Bryant. I can still remember watching the iconic “step-over” when A.I. shook Ty Lue, hit a jump shot, and stepped over him running back to the other end of the court. This one moment has lived on as a legendary moment in Philadelphia sports history, and even though the Lakers went on to win the next four games to win the title, the amount of heart, grit, and fight we showed that series made me into the basketball fanatic I am today.
Once you realized the level of interest you had in the sport, did you, at any point, look at coaching and say, “Hey, this is definitely something I’d be interested in”?
I’ve always been interested in the idea of working in sports, but as I grew older, I kind of pushed those dreams to the side in pursuit of getting a proper education and working in business in the traditional sense. The funny thing is, I almost declared my major in sports management before settling on marketing, but I thought that marketing would lead to more job opportunities after graduation. I’m not saying that was a mistake, because every decision I have made has led me to where I am today, but in actuality, a sports management degree wouldn’t look too bad right about now! However, once I became a player in the NBA 2K League, I knew from the day I was drafted that I wanted to pursue being a coach, GM, or working in the league office when my playing career was over, and fortunately enough, I was able to turn those dreams into a reality.
What was your time like in the NBA 2K League as a player, where you spent two seasons with Pistons GT?
My time with Pistons GT was full of highs and lows, but at the end of it all, I can look back and appreciate all the wonderful people I was able to meet, experience two years of life in a city/state that I would have otherwise probably never visited, and most importantly, made a lifetime of memories with my teammates of both season one and season two.
I haven’t actually shouted them out all at once, so if it’s okay with you, I would like to take this opportunity to do so now. Thank you to all my brothers: Ramo, Fred, Rux, Ro, Joe, Drew, Robbie, Jack and Dev, for having my back at one point or another and going to war through the highs and lows of a 2K League season. All of those guys know they can come to me at any time, whether it be 2K related or life in general, and I’ll always be there for them in the best way I know how. Ultimately, being a player on Pistons GT was simply a stepping stone on my journey to becoming a head coach in this league, and I couldn’t be more excited to move on and join my new family and make a lot more memories and relationships in LA.
It looks like you had an excellent coaching role model in season one Coach of the Year Duane “KingDuOne” Burton. Anything you plan to take from his bag and add it to yours?
I can’t say enough good things about Duane. Duane was first and foremost a leader of men and knew how to get the most out of his guys by integrating himself with the team and learning what motivates each person to succeed. The one thing about Duane that I respect above all else that a lot of people around the league don’t realize is that he works for the Pistons full-time as the Game Entertainment Manager. His responsibilities are endless, and seeing how hard he works on a daily basis, balancing his full-time job, travel schedule, working with his players on Pistons GT, and, most importantly, raising his son, Leo, you can’t help but be inspired by his work ethic. Win or lose, Coach always had our backs and put in the same amount of energy whether we were on a five-game winning streak or five-game losing streak.
He has taught me so many things about life that I can apply to many different areas, and I want to be as easily accessible and willing not only to talk to but also listen to my players’ needs, problems, and concerns.
What’s the first thing you’re going to do when you meet with your full roster after the draft?
The first thing I’m going to do when I meet with my full roster after the draft is introduce myself, where I come from, and present my coaching style and philosophy to the team. After all that, I’m going to open the floor to my team to learn a little bit more about each person, what motivates them, how I can put them in the best positions to succeed not only on the court, but off it as well, and just make sure that everyone is comfortable to voice their own opinions to the entire team without ever having to worry about being judged or ridiculed.
I’d say you have it very easy in the team chemistry department. Whether it’s player to player or player to coach knowing you already have your Pro-Am teammates Mootyy, Vert and Kev as the nucleus of this team can only help, right? When you decided to interview for the position, did them being on the team play a factor at all?
For sure, being able to coach three players that I know so well both on a professional and personal level definitely gives me a head start in the team chemistry/bonding department. However, I’ve already made it very clear to those three guys that by no means do our prior relationships have any effect on my willingness (or lack thereof) to be hard on them, whether it be disciplinary, performance-based or lack of effort, and those three will be judged on an even playing field with the three new players we will bring in on draft day. At the end of the day, season three is its own entity, a whole new season, and most importantly, a fresh start. All six of my players will be held to the highest of standards, and I think that is the first major step into building a successful foundation and culture of winning and still remaining humble, respectful, and professional.
I’d be lying if I said those players had no impact on interviewing for the positions; however, the Lakers are one of the most powerful, well-known brands not just in America, but around the world, and I would have been a fool not to throw my name in the discussion just to see what would happen. I’ve told people on numerous occasions that I wouldn’t have given up my playing career for just any team. The Lakers were the only position I applied for this offseason, and fortunately enough for me, I went 1/1 on that front. The Lakers organization has already made me feel like I am part of their family, even when I’m thousands of miles away, and there’s no better feeling than that.
Lakers Gaming finished second last in the standings last season, ahead of only your old team Pistons GT. What do you bring to the table that will affect the win column for season three? And in turn, what type of product can Lakers fans and fans of the league at large expect from the team on a nightly basis?
When you put it that way, I think we’re all in need of a little bit of success! I’m going to bring a unique player’s perspective of what it takes to be successful in this league, in combination with an unmatched work ethic, detailed preparation and a willingness to listen to my players just as much as I expect them to listen to not only myself, but all the members of the organization. I actually saw a great tweet today from one of my good friends, former Pro-Am teammate and season one champion coach, Kyle Rudy. He said, “People who don’t know everything that goes into this league think skill is everything. There are a lot of very skilled players who aren’t successful in the league because they can’t handle the rest of what comes with being a professional.”
And that is true on so many levels, in order to make it through a 2KL season you need to be prepared not only for your opponent but also for a grueling travel schedule, integrating with your teammates who may come from a completely different walk of life than you, for a lot of younger players the first time being away from home for an extended period of time, maintaining a level of professionalism on social media, all while performing under the most stressful environment on stage with people like Mel East of the Celtics barking at you from the other side of the circle. I’ll be able to share my wisdom and experience of how I’ve dealt with these situations for the past two years, and all this is on top of seeing the game of 2K from the eyes of a player who still competes at the highest level in Pro-Am to this day. The Lakers fan base and fans of the NBA 2K League can expect players and staff of Lakers Gaming to always hold themselves to the highest of standards, to interact and engage with the community as much as possible, and put everything they have into making Season 3 as successful as it can be in the win column.
Since you’ve got your coaching hat on now, what are some of your favorite sets or team philosophies you’ve seen in the NBA? To me, its the 2013-14 San Antonio Spurs. There was all this cutting and screening and open 3-pointers seemingly available every possession.
Wow, this is a great question and one I’ve never been asked before! The Spurs under Gregg Popovich is a tremendous example of team basketball, finding the open man and every man playing for the next with the only important stat being the win at the end of 48 minutes. As talented as the Warriors roster has been during their mini-dynasty in the past half-decade, the motion and sets that Steve Kerr utilizes to get sharpshooters like Steph and Klay open are pretty fun to watch. When Steph is healthy, you’ll see him start on the baseline, run through two or three screens, catch the ball and shoot a fadeaway three from about 30 feet with no hesitation. Obviously, Steph is a unique talent that can do things with the basketball maybe no one else in the world can do, but that’s just a great example of not relying on strictly talent to win you games. The rest of the NBA is too talented to where if you don’t keep your offense creative and unpredictable, all the talent in the world won’t be enough.
And to touch on the defensive side of the ball, having a versatile power forward in Draymond Green was the catalyst for Coach Kerr to put out a virtually unbeatable lineup. The “Death Lineup” as it’s been deemed: Steph, Klay, Iggy, KD and Draymond. Shifting Dray to the 5 allowed for maximum spacing on offense, and while still getting the same amount of stops on the defensive end, they were able to push the pace off of every rebound (when your center can bring the ball up like a point guard) and from there, the rest is history.
Alright, before we get out of here, I’ve got one final question: Pats or Geno’s?
My answer here may surprise you, but I’m going to say neither. I’m going to let you in on a little Philly secret, these two spots have been made famous through pop culture as being the mainstays of Philly cheesesteaks, but trust me, a ton of Philadelphia natives prefer more under the radar establishments over Pat’s and Geno’s. Before I receive too much hate, I’ve gone to both numerous times in my life and they are both very delicious, I can’t take anything away from the brands they’ve built. With all that being said, my favorite Cheesesteak spot in Philly is Jim’s Steaks. There’s nothing more I can say other than try it for yourself, and your life will be changed forever!