Guardian of the Golden State Warriors — and I’ll get that out of the way, my current favorite player in the NBA — Klay Thompson was watching ESPN the other day and he didn’t like what he was seeing.
In a segment on NBA today, the hosts interviewed a man legally known as Ronnie Singh. Singh, a longtime 2K employee, was formerly known simply as the “Digital Marketing Director” for the NBA 2K series, but as these games become more popular—and further entangled in the worst excesses of influencer and brand culture– he’s now simply “Ronnie 2K”, the public face of the entire franchise.
When there’s something to say about the game, he does it, when there’s an interview to be done, he’s the one in front of the camera. The man has almost a million followers on Instagram and can be seen at all the hottest parties for brands, networks and gamers.
He did that yesterday on ESPN, answering softball questions about things like skill ratings and if any NBA player had ever tried to bribe him to boost his stats (answer: yes, often). Here’s how the segment went, according to Singh’s Instagram:
The best part came afterwards, however, when Thompson went to the comments section to call Singh a “clown,” saying, “I thought NBA on ESPN meant coverage of some of the best athletes in the world? Don’t interview a promoter…better ESPN.”
Please note that this flavorful portion of sports beef didn’t magically appear overnight. Fittingly, Thompson took to social media last month to contradict his own assessment as Singh’s performance touched on player ratings NBA 2K23by placing a barf emoji next to his three-point 88 rating — good for Second in the entire league– and tells them 2K23 Team to “respect my name you bums”.
As Singh explained on the ESPN segment yesterday, that’s a good rating that’s only skewed because Thompson’s own teammate Steph Curry broke the three-point game so historically that 2K’s ratings had to be pushed around so much to adjust . But players fret over their stats with sports games are nothing new; I remember working at EB Games in 2003 and meeting some players from my local National Rugby League club (the Canberra Raiders) came in and were furious by their own ratings, and that was 19 years ago; This particular bone of contention has only gotten worse in the decades since gamers have been able to complain directly to developers via social media.
So yes, Thompson –a serial grumbler who also felt hurt that he didn’t make the NBA’s 75 Greatest Players of All Time list– usually only airs a small complaint on Instagram. But I also think he’s on to something with his recent comments about ESPN interviewing “a promoter.”
I said in my 2K23 check that:
This game isn’t even about video games anymore. It operates outside of these narrow confines. This is modern sport, this is broadcast money, this is branding, this is content, this is raw, naked greed. For 2K23, the basketball is just the vessel, the excuse. There’s no more sophisticated example of modern life’s dysfunctional excess and broken markets than this tired old video game. Few other AAA series are so distinguished for their starring role in financial earnings calls.
That’s what I’m talking about. The video game, the networks, and the league itself are so closely intertwined that it’s hard to see the points at which they separate. It’s great news for the NBA, it’s a commercial necessity for ESPN and for them NBA 2K series, it’s one of the main reasons it’s so exhausting to be here. It’s a shame that Thompson’s comments come across as sour grapes and because he’s right it sucks!
https://kotaku.com/klay-thompson-ronnie-2k-nba-2k23-singh-clown-espn-1849674785 NBA Star Klay Thompson Calls NBA 2K’s Marketing Guy a ‘Clown’