Like his fellow rookies, Kory “Chess” Taylor finally made his professional debut this season, but his journey to the NBA 2K League was unlike most.
When NetsGC signed Chess, he became the second player in league history to be added as an undrafted free agent. This extraordinary development came on a rather ordinary day, with the Michigan native receiving the news after he had gotten home from work.
“I was actually playing 2K and I was so surprised and stunned,” Chess said. “I really couldn’t believe it. I was so happy.”
Kory could finally take a moment to breath. This announcement had come on the heels of an interview with NetsGC. The team was doing its due diligence to make the right decision.
This wasn’t the first time Chess had been interviewed by Brooklyn, having spoken with the team several times during the draft process, in addition to also having formal discussions with at least 13 other teams.
“I was confident because some teams interviewed me more than once,” Chess recalled. “I felt like I vibed with some teams and so I felt like I had a good chance of being selected.”
That feeling never manifested on draft night. Having begun the day with hopes and dreams, Chess now only had his thoughts on the walk back to his New York hotel, located a half mile from the draft venue.
Chess said: “It was one of the hardest things of my life.”
Formerly a Madden player, the 21-year-old had felt that despite only having just gotten into the 2K competitive scene in the last couple of years, that he had still accomplished enough to prove himself.
“I remember going to sleep and feeling like it wasn’t real,” said Chess. “It really sucked and I wouldn’t wish that on anybody.”
Despite this setback, Chess returned home and took a brief break from playing 2K before continuing his journey to get into the league. With his name on every team’s radar, Chess was intent on taking whatever next step was needed of him. He didn’t want to be defined by the draft but was determined to use it as a steppingstone.
Fast forward to present day, and Chess is focused on taking on new challenges. One of these include familiarizing himself with the league build and developing chemistry with his NetsGC teammates.
“They’ve been playing for about three to four months and they know the ins and outs of the game,” said Chess. “But it is what it is, and I have to adapt because I’m a professional now.”
While Chess is grateful to finally be in the NBA 2K League, he made it clear that he is intent on proving his doubters wrong. There is a growing list of undrafted NBA players who went on to win an NBA championship, which include Fred Van Vleet, Bruce Bowen, and his hometown fan favourite Ben Wallace. When presented with the idea of beginning a similar list for the 2K League, Chess laughed before finally adding:
“That would mean the world. It would prove all the people that passed on me wrong. That’s a really big thing for me. That hurt, but it’s over now and I do plan on proving them all wrong.”