Twitter/Heat Check Gaming

Heat Check Gaming, Famous Enough

On Friday night, Famous Enough will go into the trenches of the NBA 2K League Studio. The Heat Check Gaming general manager/coach and his team begin their pursuit of the first NBA 2K League championship as the playoff quarterfinals begin in New York City.

While the environment will be hostile, it will be calm compared to settings in Famous' past life. The 34-year-old, whose real name is Derric Franklin, spent eight years in the U.S. Army with two tours overseas. The first came in Iraq for about a year from 2010-2011.

"I initially joined because my daughter was 6 months old when I joined," Famous says. "I don't want her to have the same life that I had. I want her to grow up not wanting anything. I joined because of her.

"When I first got to Iraq, I called my daughter and her mom on Skype, just having a casual conversation, all of a sudden, mortars hit us. The first day. I dropped to the floor and I'm in tears. I'm really not supposed to be here. That's how I feel about now."

Famous' second tour was in Afghanistan in 2013. Although this deployment lasted only nine months, he says this experience took a greater toll on him.

"Afghanistan was the first time I lost someone that was close to me," Famous recalls. "Iraq, we were getting mortared literally every holiday. Afghanistan was a different animal because I lost somebody who was close to me, who worked side-by-side with me every day. The morning I lost him, I spoke to him. I worked the night shift, this guy worked the morning shift. He had this operation where he'd go out and collect data from different IEDs. And every day, we'd joke with him, 'You're not doing any real work.' And that day, he didn't come back.

"The army does a roll call. They call people out in the audience and everybody says here. And then the person that you've lost, when they call their name, they don't speak. That was shocking to me."

When Famous returned from Afghanistan, he chose not to reenlist. He began filling out paperwork without a concrete post-military plan, but a hobby he picked up during his service proved to be fortuitous.

"When you're deployed, they have this incredible company called the USO," Famous says. "They do a lot for troops. They have these centers at every deployment camp. We can game there, we can use computers. They had Madden, they had NBA 2K there. Whenever we had down time, we were in there playing. This time was different. I was playing a lot of Madden, but when I came home, I started playing 2K."

Out of the army, Famous began taking marketing classes at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne. He also worked in the Fort Wayne Airport. But when he found free time, he fired up NBA 2K. He struggled to understand the ins and outs of the game at first. When Famous began setting up his initial MyPlayer, he was given a default character with a purple afro and the name "Russ Snow." 

"I have no clue how to change anything," Famous remembers. "This is my first foray into MyPlayer, so I'm like cool whatever, I keep the purple fro, I keep Russ Snow."

Little did Famous Enough know, the purple afro would becoming his calling card. Taking an interest in the NBA 2K community, he began to be known by his avatar's eccentric hair. Russ Snow was replaced with the moniker, "Famous Enough," as he evolved into a mentor for younger gamers in the community.

"When I came up with this Famous Enough name, it wasn't meant to be a name," he says. "It was a type of branding to go around. I think the tagline I had at first was to tell players, 'You're famous enough no matter where people look at you at, whether you're at the top or at the bottom, whether you're No. 1 or No. 250.'"

Years before the NBA 2K League became an official NBA and Take-Two Interactive-run operation, Famous gave players a shoulder to lean on. He earned YouTube and Twitter fame within the community, posting highlights and news. He developed mutual trust with gamers from the highly skilled to the novice.

Famous started going to more NBA 2K events, bringing his purple afro with him.

"I didn't have business cards," Famous says. "I was like, I need something people will remember me by. What better way than the purple fro?"

When the NBA 2K League formed, a series of teams reached out to Famous Enough to get involved. The Sacramento Kings organization reached out, noting Famous' social media reach. And although Famous felt the interview went well, the organization felt he lacked the necessary sales experience to take on its multi-purpose manager role.

Two more teams rejected Famous. But Heat Check Gaming and Famous meshed. The Miami Heat organization saw a man who could both earn the respect of his players and direct the team to reach its potential. After all, the group would be in close quarters. Heat Check Gaming rented out eight Coral Gables apartments this season: Six for the team's six players, one for Famous and one to be used as a team practice facility.

Miami was more than just a good location for a job for Famous though. His daughter and her mother live in Tampa. Famous had gone two years without seeing his daughter in person before taking the Heat Check job. And on Father's Day, the organization gave him a special surprise, bringing his daughter to Miami for a visit.

Along with the emotional ride Famous has taken to get to Heat Check Gaming, the on-virtual court ride has been wild to watch this season. Heat Check started the regular season 3-4, failed to get out of group play in "The Tipoff" Tournament and lost in the first round in both "The Turn" and "The Ticket" Tournaments.

But Heat Check catapulted itself into the playoff picture late in the season, reeling off five straight wins to get to 8-4 behind the play of star Hotshot, who finished second in the NBA 2K League with 29.5 points per game. After losing the final two games of the season, Heat Check enters the playoffs, which start Friday night, as the No. 6 seed, getting No. 3 Pistons GT in the first round at 7 p.m. ET. on the NBA 2K League Twitch channel.

Don't expect to see the purple afro though. At the start of the season, the Heat organization asked Famous to wear it at all times for branding, but that has since run its course. After all, Derric Franklin is now the head coach of an NBA 2K League playoff team. He doesn't need a schtick. 

He's Famous Enough.

Quotes from Famous Enough were curated from an epiosde of ThePostGame's "The 102 Pod" taped earlier this NBA 2K League season.

Update: Heat Check Gaming defeated Pistons GT in the quarterfinals and 76ers GC in the semifinals to advance to the NBA 2K League Finals, where they will meet Knicks Gaming for a best-of-three series on Aug. 25 in New York City.

-- Follow Jeff Eisenband on Twitter @JeffEisenband. Like Jeff Eisenband on Facebook.