The NBA 2K video games series is a cultural phenomenon among basketball fans. Even players recognize this. After recording a triple-double last season, Hassan Whiteside said, "I'm just tryin to really get my NBA2K rating up."
NBA 2K has evolved into a realistic, interactive game in which friends, or complete strangers, can connect with each other on the Internet. Part of what makes the game so realistic is the use of motion-capture technology.
While a lot of NBA players capture movements for the game, 2K leaves the dunks to the "real" professionals. After seeing videos on the Dunkademics YouTube channel, 2K Sports flew in three professionals from Dunkademics to perform the dunk packages for NBA2K16.
We caught up with two of the dunkers, Nick Ross and Myree Bowden, to ask them questions about the experience. Ross is a professional high jumper out from University of Arizona. He posted some dunks on his Instagram account just for fun, but was quickly recognized for his tremendous leaping ability. Shortly after, he did a dunk session with Dunkademics to show off his hops. The motion capture team at 2K Sports saw the video, and reached out to Dunkademics for more info on Ross.
ThePostGame: What NBA player do you dunk like?
NICK ROSS: If I had to pick an NBA dunker that I think I dunk similar to, it would be Zach LaVine.
TPG: When will gamers know when they pull off one of your moves?
ROSS: Gamers will know nine out of ten times when they execute one of my dunks because they won't recognize it from the previous games.
TPG: What is the weirdest part about that suit?
ROSS: The strangest part about wearing the suit was the fact that it was very comfy and breathable. I imagined it would get awfully hot in the suit, but to my surprise, it didn’t affect any of my dunks.
TPG: Do you ever play the game and see yourself dunking?
ROSS: Unfortunately, I haven't been able to execute any of my dunks in the game just yet, but I have witnessed some friends of mine do it, and it's a pretty amazing feeling knowing millions are seeing some of the same exact movements.
During the Motion Capture experience, 2K Sports was also a part of a Make-A-Wish Foundation partnership. The brand flew out a teenager with a terminal illness to do motion capture, so he could be in the video game. The dunkers all helped participate to make this dream come true. It was such a success that they recently flew the dunkers back up to Petaluma, California, to do another Make-A-Wish appearance. The experience was unforgettable for Ross.
TPG: How cool was it to work with the Make-A-Wish Foundation to turn someone’s dream into a reality?
ROSS: Being a part of the Make-A-Wish project has been a blessing. Helping those with a dream is nonetheless a humbling experience and a pleasure. I look forward to more Make-A-Wish projects, and I want to thank 2K and Dunkademics for the opportunity.
While Nick Ross was a first-timer for NBA 2K, Myree "Reemix" Bowden has been doing motion capture for a while now. Myree played college ball at Pacific, and he received national attention for his dunking ability in the NCAA Slam Dunk Contest. He has been performing at events and dunk contests ever since.
TPG: What is it like to dunk in that suit?
MYREE BOWDEN: Man, dunking in the suits was amazing. It's almost jumping with no clothes on. (Laughs).
TPG: How did it feel to help out with the Make-A-Wish Foundation?
BOWDEN: Being a part of the Make-A-Wish Foundation for NBA 2K is an amazing feeling. It is about being blessed with talent to help others grow as a person, and motivate them through their circumstances and bring happiness to others as an athlete. It motivates me because I see others that are not capable performing feats like myself, but still enjoy the game. It allows me to appreciate what I do even more.
TPG: What is your favorite part about doing motion capture?
BOWDEN: My favorite part about motion caption is being around the masterminds that create the game. It also allows what I do to be around forever. I've been doing this since 2007, so for eight years-plus. My talents skills and dunks are recorded and captured forever.
TPG: Do your friends hit you up when they see your dunks in the game?
BOWDEN: My friends, and also my students (Bowden works as a teacher in Stockton, California). They always tell me that they can tell what dunks are mine, which I kind of believe them, and I kind of don't because when I play, I cannot tell the difference, but it creates great conversation. I like being appreciated for the hard work I put in the studio. NBA 2K is the best game ever.