The NBA, Just Like The Rest Of The World, Is Obsessed With ‘Fortnite’

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The latest craze in sports is not using taxpayer money to fund stadiums for billionaire owners, but athletes staying up all hours of the night playing video games.

One specific video game, in fact: Fortnite. The game that drops 100 people on an island with nothing but an axe and the insatiable desire to somehow outlast everyone else by taking out opponents and building cover to stay safe from attack. The game had a bit of a cultural tipping point last week when Drake stayed up all night to play with one of the game’s most popular streamers

The sports word is no stranger to the game, either. UMBC players compared beating a 1-seed in the first round of the NCAA Tournament to winning Fortnite for the first time. And Bleacher Report wrote about the game’s appeal in the NBA, with Andre Drummond lamenting the fact that he’s not better at a game that he laments has taken up a lot of his time lately.

“The funny part about it is I really suck,” Drummond said. “I’m just not that good.”

Drummond isn’t alone though, and the piece explores the common thread in NBA circles. The game spread between friends, and now teammates battle it out to say which player is the best at the game.

Reggie Jackson introduced him to the game, and Drummond said “it took my life over from there.”

Plenty of NBA players will still obsess over NBA 2K, but the point is that video game culture, not just sports video games, are a big part of the NBA and sports in general these days. There’s a lot of downtime to be had, and players have found it easy to insert games into their schedules. Here’s what former Lakers teammates did when the Cavs came to town a few weeks back.

When the Cavaliers were in town the prior weekend, Hart had a chance to reunite with his old buddy, Larry Nance Jr., who the Lakers traded to Cleveland at the deadline.

“Saturday, he was over for probably 12 hours,” Hart recalls. “Me, him and two other friends had four TVs in my living room, four different Xboxes, all playing as one squad.”

Indeed, Fortnite has helped Nance and Hart stay close despite the trade. Some evenings, when Nance finishes his (basketball) game and Hart has some free time, they’ll link up online like the good old days. Hart admits Nance is probably the better player, but with Nance out of the picture, he holds the Lakers’ Fortnite crown.

It’s funny to imagine NBA players essentially having modern-day LAN parties, but it’s a good indication of just how mainstream gaming is these days. With the league starting its own Esports initiative later this year, it’s clear that games are a big part of the future in the NBA. Even if it’s just a few matches in between the games on the court.