Gamers get chance to play, get paid for basketball in virtual realm

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Video gamers who have hoop dreams of playing – and getting paid – in the big leagues are getting their chance in the virtual realm.

The NBA 2K League is a professional competitive gaming league co-founded by the NBA and Take-Two Interactive Software. It is the first official esports league operated by a U.S. professional sports league.

The inaugural season tipped off in May and will conclude this month. It consists of 17 teams - all operated by NBA franchises.

SERIES: Game On! Inside the World of Esports | PHOTOS: Pics from inside the NBA 2K League
WATCH: Interview with Knicks NBA 2K video gamer Dayvon Curry
MORE: Interview with Cavaliers NBA 2K video gamer Brandon Caicedo

Players compete as unique characters in 5-on-5 gameplay, and ability is determined by skill.

Making the 2K League is no slam dunk: 72,000 players tried out, but only 102 made the cut. College students, trainers and factory workers who were drafted by teams have found fame in the game.

The minimum salary is $32,000.  The best players have sponsorship deals, and they are all chasing $1 million in prize money, with $300,000 for the winning team.

News 12 Long Island’s Kevin Maher went down to Long Island City to go behind the curtain to see where NBA games meet the gamers.

Brendan Donohue is a Plainview native and oversees the 2K League, with its studio audiences, play-by-play announcers and an average of 300,000 viewers watching online every game night.

Donahue says the 2K League will add more teams next year and the goal is to go global. 

“The skies the limit. This gaming stuff can go far. It's taking over the world. And you're a part of it...I'm part of it,” he says.

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