Written By: Matthew Rondina
WGN was able to catch up with NBA 2K esports athlete Kenneth “Kenny” Hailey at the Bell Fibe House in Toronto, he gave us the inside on his career and what’s to come for the team.
Kenny is the starting point guard for the Raptors Uprising GC hailing from Memphis, Tennessee. Hailey and his Uprising squad mate Chris “Detoxys” Doyle were members of the #1 ranked NBA 2K team “Still Trill.” The squad emerged victorious netting $250,000 in the NBA 2K17 all-star tournament. They are hoping this success translates with their new teammates and the Raptors Uprising GC.
WGN: What are your thoughts on the season, how’s the team feeling?
Kenny: “We’re feeling great man, you know it’s a new experience, it’s a dream come true. Last year, I was in a tournament that 2K hosted and it was for $250,000 dollars and my team won the tournament and we split it 5 ways $50,000 each. It was my biggest game ever and my teammate Chris “Detoxys” was on that team too, and we won that tournament, it was in New Orleans, we got the whole experience.
We went to the All-Star Game, that was my first time feeling like a star actually. After the tournament that’s when they announced the NBA 2K League and that’s when I knew it was for me, I needed to be a part of that. I gave my all, and now I’m here.”
WGN: I heard you were picked first overall to the Uprising? How did that impact you as an athlete?
Hailey: *smiles* Yeah, I was the first overall pick. You what’s crazy is that I actually didn’t interview with the team. They reached out to me, but — *laughs* I don’t know what happened, I was spammed with emails and I missed the interview. Come draft time when they picked me I was like ‘wow,’ I was shocked.
WGN: You were so good you didn’t need to show up to the interview!
Hailey: “It is crazy.”
WGN: What’s your training regimen like to keep you at the top of your game?
Kenny: “I wake up, get breakfast, wait on all the guys to get up because you know we — certain days we have a set schedule. If we know we are playing a team like the Pistons, we’ll do a team scrimmage from 3-6PM on certain days. Usually, we practice 6-8 hours a day.”
WGN: So you’re the first one out of bed, raring to go?
Kenny: “No, no I’ve not going to lie to you I might be the second one. *laughs* But like I said, 6-8 hours a day and you know it Tuesdays and Thursdays we have squad training, we work out. So we get up early in the morning like ten o’clock, get there 12 and work out from 12 – 1 so we get back home 2:30 – 3PM. So we play against against each other 3-on-3 from 3 – 6PM. We take a little break, freshen up, eat, do whatever, take a nap. We back playing like around 8-9PM until midnight.”
WGN: What games do you play besides NBA 2K? Anything help you to unwind after those tough hardcourt battles?
Kenny: “I love Smite, Mortal Kombat and Gears of War. Gears of War 2 that was my favourite game. It was crazy, my team was good, and we four hosted a lot and the guys I played with we were local, all in Memphis.
We used to beat teams 5-0 with host, and even without host we still won. Gears of War was the first game I felt I could actually go pro in. It was between Gears and 2K, I was always at the top of the leaderboards and I knew if you could beat me in Gears, you weren’t going to beat me in NBA 2K.” *laughs*
WGN: What are your long term aspirations in 2K league and esports in general?
Kenny: “This is new to me, I would hope that I could make a career out of it. That’s what I’m aiming for, looking to be around for a long time. That’s what I want to do, and have some fun along the way.”
A special thanks to Kenny, and the Raptors Uprising GC for taking the time to chat and open up their training grounds at the Bell Fibe House. Be sure to follow Kenny and the rest of the team’s journey on raptorsuprising.nba.com, twitter, instagram and on twitch.
Let us know who you are rooting for in the comments below, game on!
About the Author: Matthew Rondina
Matthew has been involved in all things gaming since the 8-bit era. He is a veteran of the video game and tech industry who has been passionate about technology and gaming for over 20 years. Follow Matthew’s gaming adventures on twitter and join in on the fun!