The acquisition of Ramo brings raised expectations for Pacers Gaming.
Akeem Glaspie, IndyStar
INDIANAPOLIS — The trash talk and competitive banter within the Pacers Gaming facility mirror the sounds from playgrounds across America.
Inside the dimly-lit room with Post Malone playing quietly in the background, five players with headsets are sitting in a row, focused on their individual monitors. A large wall-mounted flatscreen broadcasts the action behind them.
WoLF 74 of Pacers Gaming against Mavs Gaming during the NBA 2K League Tip Off Tournament on May 4, 2018 at Brooklyn Studios in Long Island City, New York. (Photo: Michelle Farsi, NBAE/Getty Images)
The Cavaliers Gaming team sits across the room, trying to tune out the noise.
“He can’t guard you!” screams Pacers 2019 second-round pick Brent “Lord Beezus” Aasgaard. “Ya man gettin’ killed!”
More: Meet the Pacers’ highest-ranking women: An NBA team that is gender blind
As the game progresses the talk gets louder and more animated.
“Why did they draft you?” shouts a Pacers player to his Cavaliers opponent.
By the fourth quarter, every basket elicits exaggerated cheers from Pacers Gaming. They’re rubbing it in on the Cavaliers as they cruise to a 63-52 win.
NBA 2K League matches are not for the easily offended or overly sensitive. The emotion displayed Monday wasn’t the result of a high-stakes match — it was just a scrimmage — but these players take their jobs very seriously.
Heading into Year 2 of the NBA 2K League, Pacers Gaming is looking to make waves. The team traded away the No. 4 overall pick in the 2019 draft to Pistons GT for last year’s fifth overall pick, Ramo Radoncic, in a win-now move.
Ramo, an offensive-minded player will pair with the Pacers’ 2018 first-round pick (13th overall) Bryant “Wolf 74” Colon, a defensive-minded post player, to form the pillars of the team.
“There was definitely mixed emotions,” Ramo said of being trading from Pistons GT. “I liked Michigan. … I took (Michigan) like a second home.
Thank you! You’re almost signed up for
Keep an eye out for an email to confirm your newsletter registration.
“But I’m coming to Indy with two great players (Wolf and Nick “Swizurk” Grech). We have nice pieces to make the championship. I understand that it’s a business and I’m ready to work.”
When rumors began circulating that Ramo was available during the mid-September trading window, coach Cody Parrent and the Pacers staff jumped at the chance to acquire a high-level talent.
The Brooklyn native didn’t know much about Indiana before joining Pacers Gaming, but he soon learned of the state’s love of basketball and wasted no time acclimating himself with his new teammates.
Having two of the top 13 players in the league raises expectations within the organization. After last season’s 5-9 campaign, the Pacers are welcoming the increased scrutiny.
“When you bring on a great player like Ramo, expectations immediately go through the roof in our community,” Parrent said. “Guys understand that. We’ve been ranked in the top five in almost every community ranking.
“We’re committed to winning just like the Pacers, the Fever and the Mad Ants. Any time we can go out and get a free agent and bring them here to Indy we’ll do that.”
Sharing the spotlight isn’t new for Wolf; in fact he welcomes the help. The former offensive lineman at Ithaca College is used to putting his teammates in position to shine. He’s embraced his role as a defensive stopper and relishes doing the little things to help his team win.
“I’m low maintenance,” Wolf said. “I don’t need the ball on offense. I’m gonna cause havoc on defense, play my role and Ramo can get his touches.
“It makes it easier chemistry wise. It makes them happy because they like to score. I could care less. As long as I’m getting stops on defense, that’s all that matters to me.”
Pacers Gaming open its season April 4 with the Tip-Off Tournament. The winning team collects $120,000 in prize money.
Additional tournaments The Turn (May 9-11) and The Ticket (June 13-15) offer winning teams $180,000 in prize money. The tournaments do not count toward a team’s regular season record, but can serve as a tiebreaker for the playoffs.
The Pacers begin the regular season April 10 against Jazz Gaming. All regular-season games will take place at the NBA 2K League Studio in Long Island City, New York, and will be livestreamed on the league’s Twitch channel.
Follow IndyStar sports producer Akeem Glaspie on Twitter at @THEAkeemGlaspie.