By: Matt Murphy
This “Summer 76” for the Philadelphia 76ers actually marks the third such occasion for 76ers Gaming Club (GC).
While it is certainly unique for the NBA’s 76ers to be gearing up for the resumption of their season later this month, competing at this point in the calendar year is not unusual for 76ers GC. The schedule for the NBA 2K League, now in its third season, begins in the spring and runs into August.
So, on this July 6, let’s take a deeper look at the NBA 2K League team proudly linked to the 76ers in name, team colors and beyond.
What makes this team tick? What makes it click?
76ers GC is the winningest team in NBA 2K League history. In fact, they are the only team to win a playoff game in both Season 1 and Season 2, while being one of just two teams to even qualify for the playoffs in each of the first two seasons.
For 76ers GC Head Coach and 2019 NBA 2K League Coach of the Year Jeff Terrell, it all starts with consistency.
“To everybody and to us, it’s consistency,” said Terrell following a recent game. “We’ve been consistent for two years now. We’re the all-time winningest team in the NBA 2K League through two seasons. I think playing for one another, and just being consistent, is the best version of 76ers GC.”
Alexander “Steez” Bernstein, one of three third-year players on the team, talks about passion.
“When you hear 76ers GC, there’s a lot of passion and a lot of fire that goes into being on that stage and playing 2K,” said Steez. “You’re playing for the guys next to you, and I think we’ve always had that [mindset]. That’s the 76ers GC that everybody knows.”
Right now, due to the coronavirus pandemic, there is no stage.
“That’s what I think separates the 2K League,” said 2019 MVP finalist Ethan “Radiant” White. “People are hype. People show their emotions. They let it out, and it might not be in the most respectful way sometimes, but I think that’s what makes it fun. That’s what makes it unique.”
With 2K League teams currently competing remotely from their local markets, 76ers GC trains and plays its games at the 76ers Training Complex in Camden, NJ.
This season, the NBA 2K League’s tagline is “This is NOT a game.”
Intensity and competitiveness continue to characterize the league. It’s something that the 76ers GC players embrace.
“There’s a lot of passion in this league,” said Steez back at the team’s virtual media day in April. “I specifically remember certain people coming to watch the 2K League for the very first time and saying ‘Wow, this is more intense than traditional basketball.’ Because there’s so much passion and so much fire behind these players in the league. And that’s why it isn’t a game to us – this is part of our life. It’s way deeper than just [playing in] a virtual basketball game.”
“[Opponents] don’t take anybody lightly,” added Rashann “Scretty” Petty. “They’re going to go hard at you, even if you’re a rookie or you’ve been in the league for a long time, they’re not going to play with you. Everybody goes hard, because everybody wants the check at the end of the day. So, you’ve got to come ready – ready to play – or you’re going to be in trouble.”
So far, Season 3 has not been what this accomplished 76ers GC group expected. The team currently holds a 2-8 record. Coming off a recent victory over Celtics Crossover Gaming to close out Week 8, they’re still trying to find their stride.
“Having fun is huge,” said Terrell. “The energy and the vibe is something that’s not talked about a lot. I think when our guys have energy and they’re feeding off each other, that’s when we play our best. Communication. Swinging on defense. We’re moving in the right direction and I believe in us getting there. I think we still have a lot left in the tank.”
The third of the NBA 2K League’s three in-season tournaments, THE TICKET powered by AT&T, is now scheduled to begin August 13. The 14 teams outside of the top-nine playoff seeds will compete in THE TICKET. The winner will earn the 10th and final spot in the 2020 NBA 2K League Playoffs, set to take place from August 19-29.
But before that, there is plenty more regular season action for a team with such a strong track record to continue moving in the right direction.
76ers GC returns to action on Tuesday, July 7, at 7 p.m. ET.
Not quite 7/6, but important all the same.