The NBA will continue to grow its reach in China but has no plans at this time to expand its upcoming NBA 2K league into the Chinese market, a league spokesman said to ESPN on Thursday.
"The NBA is not actively planning a separate esports league in China," NBA 2K esports league managing director Brendan Donohue told ESPN. "We remain solely focused on the 2018 launch of our previously announced NBA 2K esports league, which will provide a framework that allows men and women from around the world to participate."
On Tuesday, reports citing NBA executive David Shoemaker emerged that the NBA was actively exploring to expand its recently-announced esports endeavor, the NBA 2K League, with a sister league in China. The NBA refutes this claim, saying Shoemaker was misquoted.
In February, the NBA announced that it would work with long-time game partners 2K Games and Take-Two Interactive to launch a 17-team esports league in 2018. The league will feature 17 of the NBA's 30 franchises, including current NBA finalists the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers. While the NBA 2K League will not expand into China, players from other countries, including China, can participate.
That league is a continuance of the relationship between the NBA and esports. Following a presentation by NBA commissioner Adam Silver in 2015, many of the league's executives, such as Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and Washington Wizards owner Ted Leonsis, have moved into the esports space