Pro basketball players are looking for other means of income during the NBA lockout. Several are making deals to play overseas. Utah Jazz forward Gordon Hayward is going pro in a different game: StarCraft II.
Hayward has joined the IGN Pro League and will play in the IPL Origins event in Atlantic City October 6 through 9, 2011. He will also serve as a spokesperson for the event. Hayward’s already paying dividends in that department. CBS Sports and Yahoo are among the news outlets that have picked up the story.
Hayward began live streaming his StarCraft II games, thus making a name in the community. IGN saw his passion for the game and thought he would be a perfect ambassador for eSports. Ordinarily Hayward wouldn’t have had the free time to participate in this kind of thing. The NBA players are currently locked out, so the Jazz forward is getting a chance to pursue another competitive endeavors.
Hayward will get coaching from some of the world’s best StarCraft players in preparation for the big tournament. It will be interesting to see if a pro athlete can translate those skills to eSports. One of the big factors in tournaments, particularly for brand new players, is nerves. Will that apply to a player that has performed his craft in front of 20,000 screaming basketball fans?
Numerous pro athletes have gaming as a hobby. Kobe Bryant immortalized his love for Call of Duty in a commercial. Pro football players among the biggest Madden NFL fans in the world. Hayward has taken his love of StarCraft to another level, though. He even made his official announcement parodying LeBron James’ now infamous ESPN special, “The Decision.”