MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - The popularity of eSports is rising in the United States, and the Memphis Grizzlies is one of the organizations embracing video games.
The days of playing NBA 2K in your house just as a hobby are over. There's now a real-life NBA 2K league controlled by the real National Basketball Association.
"eSports is enormous, and I think we have a place in that," said Brendan Donahue, managing director of NBA 2K League. "So, I think it seems pretty logical."
The Memphis Grizzlies is one 17 NBA franchises with their own 2K league team.
The Command Center is where the team trains. It's complete with gaming chairs, headsets, PCs and even a wrestling ring, a tribute to Memphis' wrestling history.
"This command center is amazing," said Grizz Gaming member Mehyar Ahmed'hassan. "The ring behind me, every day coming here is just like, 'man we're actually getting paid for this.'"
Ahmed'hassan, who goes by the gamer tag Authentic African, is from Toronto and used to be a handyman and mover.
Now he makes $35,000 a year with a chance to make much more!
"It's a blessing man," Ahmed'hassan said. "It's great to be a part of this, and hopefully I'm here for years to come."
"When you climb in this ring you have to be ready for competition," said Grizz Gaming GM Lang Whitaker. "You could just put 5 computers against a wall, but we wanted to do something that would leave a memory."
So WMC5's Sudu Upadhyay climbed through the ropes to take a chance to make his mark against the best.
He entered the game with 6 minutes left in the fourth quarter and scored two points as his team of novices lost to Grizz Gaming 129-41.
The team currently owns a 2-4 record and plays Celtics Crossover Gaming on Saturday.
You can catch the game at noon on Twitch.