NBA 2K Is As Much About Expression As It Is About Basketball

When running around the world that NBA 2K has created for My Career it’s hard not to recognize the variety. When players are geared up in their off-court outfits, it becomes an opportunity for players to express themselves in new and interesting ways.

This is entirely by design. 2K wants players to feel like they have a wide variety of styles available to them because basketball is a multi-cultural game. It brings in people from all walks of life — Different ages, backgrounds, interests, and ideas — NBA 2K has given these players the chance to make the ideal basketball player in their mind. Of course, 2K is also a game about living the life of an NBA superstar. Sure, it allows the player to break out into other passions as well, but the idea of being an NBA star remains true at the game’s core. So gaining the opportunity to be expressive, but also still look like an NBA player, is what drives the clothing players can choose from when playing 2K.

“Being able to play and live the life of NBA players is central to everything that we’re doing with [My Career] mode.” Ronnie “Ronnie 2K” Singh told Uproxx. “So part of, you know, storytelling and being expressive is what you wear in the real world. So it was really important for us to think about that when it came to licensing. So, this has been a multi-year thing. But it’s really come to a place where we have the who’s who of the brands in the fashion world and a lot of it came from a lot of different sources like we got a lot of input from NBA players. We see what they wear and we wanted to again, give people the clothes that they see on their favorite NBA player to kind of live that life.”

The list of options available to players is honestly impressive. It of course has the usual suspects like Nike, Adidas, and Jordan but it also features After School Special, OVO, and Crocs. Wearing Crocs while running around a city designed for basketball players might sound a little weird, but it’s all about giving players the opportunity to express themselves through their fashion choices. While clothes don’t define someone, people can make the clothing they wear representative of themselves. If that’s what it’s like in in the real world, then it would be a disservice to players to not be able to show that same expression in the world of 2K.

“We’re really trying to give our player base the most amount of options in the way that they express themselves throughout the game,” Singh said. “You know, that doesn’t just extend to the clothing, but in the game, you also get an option of — What do you want to be? A fashion designer, or music collaborator as your side gig for the game. I just think the people really relate and connect with that…We have a wide demographic of people that play our game, a lot of different interests. So we need to be diverse in what we are offering.”

In a way, basketball has always been a sport where the players have expressed themselves through their fashion choices. From guys like Allen Iverson bringing hip-hop style to the NBA (and the ensuing pushback from the league with the dress code) to today where players will sometimes wear clothes that could fit in a traditional fashion show, this variety in style is an opportunity for players to give all of us a glimpse of who they really are as people. It’s also representative of what the NBA now values. The NBA is a league that wants its players to share who they are as people and their fashion choices are a perfect way for them to do that — a stark contrast to the dress code era. So it only makes sense that in a game like NBA 2K, where everyone is trying to live out their dream of being an NBA superstar, that they would also express themselves through fashion.

“It is all about storytelling.” Singh said. “You know, I use this example when I talk about our game in general, but it’s a great kind of corollary to the clothing world. For years basketball was about teams. We grew up in the Lakers versus Celtics all those historical teams. Well, you know, the NBA did a great job of moving towards you caring about their superstars. So now we know so much about Kobe and LeBron and Steph and all of the inner workings. MJ, obviously, Magic, and Larry were kind of the first people in that world where we knew a lot about them as individuals. Well, part of that individuality was what they were doing in terms of what they were wearing and their personal brands. We kind of took on that same mold. Right? Like we introduce my career into 2K10. We made it about you as a basketball player and then now, like, we’re making it about you as a greater influencer in the basketball world with these extensions, such as being a fashion designer yourself or being a musician in the game yourself.”

As basketball, and 2K, have evolved it’s become about something more than basketball. It’s a culture where we are constantly seeking out ways to express ourselves. What better way than to tell everyone who we are as a person than through our clothes? NBA players have been doing it for well over a decade so it only makes since that 2K has been embracing that too. Fashion is expression and these days in the world of 2K players have more options to express themselves than ever before.