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Ronnie 2K on NBA + video game culture, getting dissed by Klay, and the Steph Curry effect
The Bay Area's own Ronnie Singh talks Warriors basketball and the power of video games to bring connection
They say if you do what you love you’ll never work a day in your life. I’ve been watching Golden State Warriors basketball and going to war in video games since I was but a young child growing up in Oakland. Now, as a journalist I get to cover both of those topics for the good people of Dub Nation and beyond.
That’s why my guest today Ronnie Singh aka Ronnie 2K is such a treat to interview. He’s also a Bay Area dude who grew up watching Warriors basketball with a love for video games. Now he’s the face of the NBA 2K franchise as digital marketing director, and he’s also the guy everyone finds on social media to complain to about the game and player ratings.
Yes, that even includes NBA players like our very own Klay Thompson who briefly put Ronnie 2K in his crosshairs over a 3PT video game rating.
Daniel: This is such an honor, man. I want you to know Ronnie that me and my friends have been personally cursing your name for maybe a decade for all the rage we've had in NBA 2K. But I don't think it's your fault, man. I think you get a bad rap !
Ronnie: Trust me, I want to curse my own name too when I'm playing, I throw the controller and yell myself too.
Daniel: Awesome, man. So today I want to discuss a few things Warriors and gaming related and also of course just tap in with you about this crazy NBA season SIM result here, right? So again, I don't want to curse your name anymore, but how in the world did the Boston Celtics end up overtaking the Golden State Warriors in the sim? What’s the methodology there?
Ronnie: I'll speak to the methodology first. So, obviously, we have done sims for years, and it's done with our in-game engine, and it's actually something that anybody can do. However, we do it over the course of many of simmed seasons and average out the results to kind of get as fine tuned of a thing as we can.
I'm kind of surprised that you're surprised that it's Boston and Golden State at the end. The reason I think that is, is because, you know, they were just in the Finals just a couple years ago. And Boston, I would think, is much improved. I mean, they lost a little bit of size, but I mean, Jrue Holiday taking them from their biggest competitor in the East, like, that's a big move by them.
Shows up, you know, a couple of the biggest needs that they have, most notably leadership of the point guard position. Jrue’s a great player, probably one of the more underrated guys in the league. So, I mean, that makes Boston one of the favorites in the West.
And then the Warriors are always there.They always try to, you know, figure it out by the end of the season. There are definitely concerns around the competition in the West. It's more stacked than ever. And the size, right? Like, do they have the guys to match up against, you know, the teams that have the big guys? Notably like Anthony Davis, they got knocked off last year by the Lakers. And then the Nuggets… like who's going to stop Jokic, right?
So there's questions, but I think that the Warriors just have the championship DNA. I think that we're saying that Klay is going to have a huge bounceback season and a free agency year. Chris Paul is going to be a good addition. You saw flashes of that opening night. I know he went four for 15, but like he looked. Like he could plug in and leave that second unit, but also like to be really dynamic without the first unit. So there's a lot to like, and we're saying that they're going to make it to the Finals.
Daniel: Oh yeah, that makes perfect sense. I was just wondering why the Warriors aren’t going to sweep the Celtics in the sims?? You know, maybe it's me as a biased voice.
Ronnie: You might be a little biased! But yeah, I mean both of those teams are, in consideration to be there at the end. And our sim just has Boston being a little bit better.
Daniel: What would your all time NBA 2K starting 5 be, if it was made up of only Warriors? And add a 6th Man in there.
Ronnie: Oh, wow. Okay. Steph Curry for sure at the one. Man, I'll skip the two because I think you can make it for a couple of guys. So I'll get back to that. Kevin Durant as the three…I know he was only there for three years. Draymond Green, you have to take him at the four. And then you put Wilt Chamberlain at the five.
I guess I have to take Klay Thompson as the starting two. And for my sixth man? There's so many guys. I mean, there's Tim Hardaway, there's Chris Mullin, there’s Jason Richardson. I think in this day and age, you probably take J-Rich, even though that might be a little controversial.
Daniel: Thank you so much man, because you have to actually really think about how many great Warriors players there have been to make your starting five. That rich history is dope, I appreciate that.
Ronnie: They're one of the more fun All-Time teams to play in our game, just because like, there's just so many guys.
And now look, they had a Dark Ages. I grew up in the Bay. I still live there most of the time and it was TOUGH to be a Warriors fan.
I'm not a Warriors fan because I went through those dark ages. But then there's just been so many historic all time great players that have worn the blue and gold. So yeah, probably the second or third best All-Time team in our game, because of the guys that have worn that uniform, it's pretty nuts.
Like, who else, who else, who had a better All-Time roster outside of the Lakers, right? If you had to pick twelve guys from the franchise, I think the Warriors might have the second best all time score.
Daniel: Thank you sir. Ronnie 2k speaking the truth! Okay. Let’s piggyback on that. I remember playing with the Warriors during the Latrell Sprewell days, eventually up to the Monta Ellis days. So imagine how amazed I was when suddenly choosing the Warriors was considered cheating because the way they can spam threes at will and blow teams out. People said the Warriors were a cheat code was because Steph Curry was shooting from places that you just didn't shoot from before. How would you describe the Curry effect in NBA 2K terms?
Ronnie: Yeah. I mean, back in NBA 2K16, when he started making 400 plus threes a year and shooting them from 35 feet constantly. It really changed our video game, like obviously analytics and the decision to shoot more threes… all the teams impacted that.
But like, he was definitely the leader and poster child of that. It was really the depth in the court spacing and all of that stuff that, I mean, we, we had a campaign, Steph Curry broke our game like back in 2016 and it was true.
All of a sudden we had to add badges to upgrade players, stuff like “limitless range” didn't really exist because the game wasn't like that. Steph changed our game just like he changed the NBA. And he’s just a really good dude and a role model for kids to be a fan of. There's a lot of great things to say about Steph.
Daniel: Absolutely, man. That's super factual. And with that in mind talking about how you have to change badges to honor the way he's playing the game. How often do you get NBA players come up to either complain or beg for better rating all the time?
Ronnie: Every other day. There's a better understanding of the system now, you know, like we don't have any 99s.
And so like because we're doing it from a historical perspective and there's only a couple 99s in the game and everybody kind of falls behind that. So that's, you know, it's always a contentious thing. You probably saw Klay last year when he was in Asia, calling me out while I'm asleep at three in the morning.
I saw that on all over TV, which is interesting, with even KD tweeting about it shortly after. These guys, they're so competitive and it means so much to them and they need any chip on the shoulder that they can get. So like, why not use that as fuel? It's amazing for us because it's become that topic of conversation.
Daniel: I’m glad you brought that up because from a gaming franchise perspective, in terms of competition, NBA 2K has leveled the basketball world.
I started off playing Bird vs Magic, and NBA Shootout back in the day. And then I remember NBA Live had a huge stronghold on the gaming community. And then 2k, when we started out with Allen Iverson on the cover, it’s incredible to see it as the premiere basketball franchise now. What would you describe as the reason that 2K stands head and shoulders above the competition?
Ronnie: I mean, it starts with the authenticity of the game, right? Like, even as silly as like on Monday when we revealed all these celebrities in the crowd, the Warriors have a couple celebrities (I'm one of them) that's court side, right? Like it's from small little details like that, to the court lighting, to how authentic it is when you run plays in the off ball.
Speaking of presentation I did a shoot with a couple of warriors with the new rookie Brandin Podziemski and and Gary Payton II, And then we were talking about how, like, being good at the game actually makes them better basketball players. And vice versa, because they see that play style and what they see in playbooks that gets beat into them in practice, like, it's strictly in our game and it's a great training device. It’s also a great scouting device, and that's very very cool for us to be that close to the world.
And then it's all the lifestyle stuff beyond that that allows it to grow beyond the periphery. It keeps basketball cool and culturally relevant and all of that stuff and that's been a real joy and excitement of mine in my almost 16 years here at 2K. It’s great to help usher that along and make sure that basketball has a special place in fans hearts.
Daniel: That's beautiful, man. Thank you for that. Speaking of the fans' hearts Warriors Gaming Squad are the champs of NBA 2K, meaning the Golden Empire's reign now expands beyond the hardwood to the virtual world. What are your thoughts on the 2K League’s evolution? Because I remember when I first heard it, like you can actually make a living playing 2k?? I was like, wow all my dreams have come true!
Ronnie: We all got in the wrong career I guess! It is amazing. I mean not only make a living, but, like, represent these amazing NBA franchises we have. 23 NBA franchises that have 2K League teams and they get the same nutrition, the same fitness, and they get the same kind experience that the NBA guys do and that's so cool. Who would have thought? We had to go on a kind of a long trip to get there, obviously we had to introduce My Career, and we had to let people get connected.Whether that was the Jordan or the Pro Am, the variety of ways that we do that. And then, yeah, squad up and represent these teams. It's pretty amazing what's happened.
You know, they just completed their fifth season. They're in the process of starting up their sixth. It's really extraordinary.
Daniel: If you had to put a current NBA 2K eSports athlete on the cover of 2K, who would it be?
Ronnie: Who would come to mind? Probably DayFri or Dimes. You know, Dimes was the number one pick. Day Fri is probably the most successful 2K League player we've had. I know neither of them have played on the Warriors Gaming Squad, but those two are definitely among the faces of the league.
Daniel: Beautiful. I've interviewed Dimes; cool cat. He's definitely a 2K hooper. In closing, man I want to give you some time to just share with the people about the launch of your new video series, The Blacktop. I know that you'll be interviewing NBA players and other celebs in the world of basketball.
Ronnie: Yeah, I appreciate you asking that. Like for me, I'm always figuring out ways to bring eyeballs to the wider world of basketball to grow the culture of basketball and bring on the personalities that mean so much to that world.
It's super important to what we're trying to do with The Blacktop, like the ability to have honest conversations with people about their love for the game. That's what my goal is and fans can really enjoy a transparent kind of situation with them.
What's the way you can build someone’s comfortability and being able to speak honestly with them? Video games is one of them. We'll talk about a lot of things, not just 2K, but a lot of other different topics that are going on in their business world and their cultural world. And really kind of fun topics.
We have a great roster of guys that we're talking to starting off with Druski a few weeks ago. We got really honest and talked about being impoverished and things like that.
And then we’re launching Trae Young's tomorrow. I think he's an interesting one in that, like, he was such a star for a second, and not that he isn't now, but like, there's been a lot of young guys that have kind of taken the mantle. He's still waiting for his moment to shine, so we really got deep on that, and I think it's really a fascinating watch.
Daniel: I love that, man. That's definitely a interesting aspect to it. As fans and folks who follow the game, we see so much about the on court stuff. But it’s cool to really look behind the scenes. I really appreciate that man, and thank you so much for taking the time with me today. I'm gonna tell all my 2K buddies.
Ronnie: Of course! I appreciate you and anytime you wanna talk Dubs, I'm here for it.
Follow Ronnie 2k online @Ronnie2k on Instagram!