Since Adam Silver took over for David Stern as the commissioner of the NBA, he has explored many business options to help grow the NBA into a global league.
It appears Silver and the NBA is now partnering with Take-Two Interactive Software to do something that has never been done before.
According to Zach Lowe of ESPN, they are currently in the process of creating an eSports league where NBA teams will own a team on NBA 2k beginning in 2018:
The NBA 2K eLeague, tentatively set to begin play in 2018, eventually will feature 30 NBA 2K teams, each owned by one of the real-life NBA franchises, according to NBA commissioner Adam Silver and Strauss Zelnick, the CEO of Take-Two. The teams, comprised of five human players, will play out a five-month season that mirrors the real NBA season. It will proceed through a regular season of head-to-head games and then to playoffs and a championship matchup.
All 30 NBA franchises have expressed interest in participating, and Silver hopes that at least half of them will have teams in the league by the time it launches in 2018.
The way the league is being described is that they are trying to make it as close to the real-life NBA as possible:
The NBA will hold an initial draft of eSports players, and each NBA franchise will pick five to play as its eLeague team. They will draw salaries, train and essentially treat the NBA 2K eLeague as full-time jobs during the season.
The players in the league will not be playing with current NBA players; rather they will design their own players within the game.
Silver intends to market the league greatly by staging events, selling tickets for fans, creating merchandise, signing sponsors and negotiating licensing rights so that fans can watch games remotely.