“We’ve Had Some Bribing Along The Way” | Ronnie 2K Reveals NBA Players Are Throwing Bags For Better NBA 2K Rankings

Image Credit: Screen shot

Note to all budding video game designers: if you are angling to become one of the people making NBA 2K, be prepared for cheers, jeers, and bribes. NBA 2K digital marketing director Ronnie Singh, aka Ronnie 2K, kept it real during an appearance on ESPN’s NBA Today on Monday, revealing how some NBA players badly want to sweeten their ranking in the cult classic basketball video game.

“We’ve had some bribing along the way,” said Ronnie 2K. “I’ve been offered some, like, grail shoes. I’ve been offered a variety of things. Here’s the thing: Stop offering me anything. You know how you can get your rating better? Play better.”

Ouch. However, Ronnie 2K didn’t have that energy with Kevin Durant when he publicly outed the video game franchise for his ranking. In September, the Brooklyn Nets star took offense with the NBA 2K video game franchise over what he feels is a ranking that is not representative of his actual in-game play and abilities.

Durant called out Ronnie 2K with, “Aye @Ronnie2K I’m gonna need an explanation on why I’m not a 99? This has become laughable,” Durant posted on Twitter.

Ronnie 2K sounded differently in his response to the NBA superstar.

“I am petitioning for us to remove MJ from the cover and replacing with you, the real 99,” Ronnie 2K responded.

Durant was given a 96 overall rating for NBA 2K23, and although that makes him one of the best players in the game, he wanted that elusive 99 rating because since 100 is impossible, Durant wants the next best thing. It all started when the official NBA 2K Twitter account posted a picture of Durant’s digital likeness with a “96” and captioned, “@KDTrey5 is a 96 in 2K23 Agree or Nah? #2KRatings.”

When Durant posts the question, you answer, especially when it’s something as sacred as your video game avatar’s rank. After all, this is a global representation of his actual skills turned digital.

It doesn’t come as a significant surprise — players being angry at their NBA 2K rating in the yearly release of the game has become something of a tradition.

Athletes’ sense of competition extends to the video game world. Like Durant, players are turning to Ronnie, who has become the perfect target to express their dissatisfaction with the ranking system.

“We drive a lot of factors into deciding the final ratings for each player,” 2K roster producer Mike Stauffer said to The Sporting News. “We primarily focus on stats from last year and evaluating those advanced analytics, interpreting them and figuring out how to translate additional data into actual ratings. For players who are new to the NBA or have had less experience, projection can be necessary with the expectation that rating will change as more data becomes available.”

Singh’s unique business model transcends the gaming industry and has led him to become an influential figure across the sports and entertainment landscape, producing and hosting the NBA 2K Player’s Tournament on ESPN during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The latest version of the game features Michael Jordan as the cover athlete for NBA 2K23, the third time the game will honor the consensus GOAT, barring his feature on a special edition cover in 2016. Jordan is featured in the Michael Jordan Edition and Championship Edition and has Durant’s coveted 99 ranking. NBA 2K also announced a new Jordan Challenge game mode that will allow fans to relive their favorite and most memorable moments from Michael Jordan’s storied career, per the NBA 2K website.

Players will hate, and the game will continue, but the NBA 2K rankings are the new measure of virtual success.

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Rhett Butler is a Boxing Writer Association of America Journalist, Play-By-Play Commentator, Combat Sports Insider, and Former Mixed Martial Arts and Boxing Promoter. The New York City native honed his skills at various news outlets including but not limited to: TIME Magazine, Money Magazine, CNN's Wolf Blitzer Reports, and more. Rhett hosts the PRITTY Left Hook podcast, a polarizing combat sports insider's take featuring the world's biggest names.