In each of the NBA 2K League’s two seasons, Blazer5 Gaming has gone into the playoffs as the league’s top seed but has been immediately eliminated.
Thus, the franchise hired Andrew Maxie as its head coach to address these disappointing results.
Maxie comes to Blazer5 Gaming with a wealth of experience in both basketball and the NBA 2K franchise. He has played 2K on the Pro-Am circuit since 2015, as his career as both a coach and player in the basketball industry allowed. As far as his credentials on the physical hardwood go, Maxie was an NAIA All-American and MAC Conference MVP collegiately. He then played professionally in several countries. On the coaching side, Maxie worked with AAU teams in two states.
“Most of the principles you learn from physical sports transfer over to the league,” Maxie said. “I’ve noticed players and coaches with previous athletic backgrounds, whether it’s playing, coaching or both, have had lots of success. So having the past experiences of playing all over the world and experiencing the different personalities, coaching styles, playbooks and different philosophies over the years, you kind of learn what works with who and what’s needed to motivate and inspire certain types of players.”
Among the players that he will try to inspire for Blazer5 Gaming are the League MVPs from each season as well as one of the best defenders in the game: Dayne “OneWildWalnut” won MVP in the league’s first season while Nidal “Mama Im Dat Man” Nasser was the MVP last season.
“They’ve been great,” Maxie stated. “Both have been very welcoming and have accepted me with open arms. We all have that chip on our shoulder, and we’re coming in this season with one goal…championship. That’s the benefit of having two MVPs. You know you are getting high character, professional workhorses that take their craft very seriously, so our interactions have been good. Short and sweet.”
Before Maxie was hired, Blazer5 also decided to forfeit a draft pick and retain the services of Andron “Lavish_Phenom” Thomas. The latter is regarded as one of the best players in the league on the defensive end.
“The advantage of having Andron back is crazy,” Maxie explained. “We understand how valuable having a great lockdown defender is in this league, so it definitely makes sleeping a lot easier this offseason. Not only is he a great individual talent but he’s been with the organization for two seasons now. So he’s comfortable here and has great chemistry with the guys. We can only get better; that’s scary! I feel like we will have one of the stingiest defenses in the league.”
— Blazer5 Gaming (@blazer5gaming) January 8, 2020
The numbers agree with Maxie’s assessment, as far as regular-season play goes. One of the reasons Blazer5 has the highest winning percentage over the league’s first two seasons is its defensive prowess. They never allowed an opponent to reach 70 points in a regular-season game last season and held their opponents under 50 points during four of those 16 contests.
It’s now Maxie’s job to translate that success during regular-season play into postseason victories. He is under no delusions about the task ahead.
“I feel like postseason success is the expectation going forward,” said Maxie.
“In the 2K League and also in traditional sports, we see that seeding is mostly for decoration or bragging rights. No. 1 seed or No. 8 seed, everybody is dangerous at that point in the season. So the seeding is not as important as peaking and playing your best basketball at the right time of the season… the playoffs!”
He also knows that the decisions he makes going forward will have a lot of bearing on whether that goal of advancing in the postseason is realized.
“It starts at the top with me… the head coach,” Maxie added.
“They have had an amazing amount of success, and I’m here to help them take that next step to greatness with a variety of plays that will highlight our team and individual strengths. Heightened attention to detail on the defensive end, an in-depth scouting report with game plans in place, and mostly I will create a fun highly competitive environment that our players love. We have a close-knit group, and that off-court chemistry will carry over nicely to the virtual court.”
— Blazer5 Gaming (@blazer5gaming) January 17, 2020
Maxie will be a big part of trying to add to that chemistry without disrupting it. Blazer5 will have an opportunity to fill out its other three roster spots in the league’s upcoming draft, for which contingent offers have been sent out to over 150 players to form a prospect pool.
Maxie says that while he has a set group of prospects in mind, he’s adding to it daily because the event is unpredictable.
While draft preparation is keeping him busy, Maxie hasn’t forgotten the road to this point. His family in Texas “had no idea” what his job entailed, so his strategy on that was to collect links of relevant content and share those with family members. At first, he didn’t realize what being in his position meant for his community.
“I didn’t really think about it like that at first but it is definitely a win, especially it being in the esports industry,” Maxie said.
“One of the greatest gifts God gave me was one to inspire, and this has just given me another way to reach the youth and do that very thing. In African-American culture, gaming is a hidden topic. It is not ‘cool’, so a lot of kids shy away from it. So for them to see me open up about my love and passion for video games will help them do it also.
“From another aspect, it gives the kids a role model and acts as a blueprint. When you see somebody that doesn’t necessarily look like you do something, it might not seem possible. But when you see somebody that looks and shares a similar background, it gives confidence that you can do it too. So I’m grateful for that.”
Maxie has found an outlet to enjoy his favorite food (tacos) in Portland as well. (He recommends the chicken tacos at Papi Chulos.)
There’s no doubt that if he is able to bring playoff wins to the city, he will endear Portland to himself as much as he is coming to love his new home. If his previous success on the digital and physical hardwood are any indication, Blazer5 has maximized its chances of capturing that elusive championship.