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All-Star ANT Leads Promising Future for NBA 2K League

The NBA 2K League is seeing encouraging viewership numbers and Anthony "ANT" Costanzo is helping the league put on a show

What does it take to become the best in sport?

Like many other athletes for Pistons GT Anthony “ANT” Costanzo, it is all about the work he puts in before heading into each game.

“It all starts in the film room,” said Costanzo. “It all starts with my game prep and my attitude. That’s what leads to great things for me and my team.


Yes, you read that right, he’s talking about film prep for video games.

Something ANT himself said he would have scoffed at years ago when he was hooping on the hardwood.

“What I've learned over the last few years when I've really spent a lot of time breaking it down, is that it is very similar to real basketball,” he said.

Seeing that ANT has already been named an NBA 2K All-Star this season and he’s in contention to win the league MVP, it’s best to take his word for it.


The year was 2009 when then 7-year-old Anthony Costanzo decided to make the switch from NBA Live to NBA 2K 10.

Nearly every morning before and every evening after school for the next 8 years, ANT was on the sticks casually playing NBA 2K.

But when NBA 2K 17 dropped, Costanzo decided to take things up a notch.

“I found myself putting a lot more time into the game, really starting to enjoy it,” he continued “I was like, oh, you know what, I'm kind of good at this.”

ANT was soon embraced by the online competitive NBA 2K community stating the better he got the more people he started to meet.

Then, in May 2017, the NBA announced the inaugural season of the NBA 2K featuring 17 teams.

It would be another 5 years before ANT had the opportunity to show the world what he was capable of on the NBA 2K mainstages.


His initial entrance into the 2K League wasn’t what he had dreamt.

A combination of poor performance and wrong fit got him traded from the Sacramento Kings Guard Gaming, the team that drafted him, to New York Knicks Gaming.

“It was definitely tough,” ANT lamented, “It almost made you feel like you weren't wanted and [I was] trying to find a sense of identity.”

Two months later, he was traded again to Pistons GT.

This time, now in his element, the results were completely different. Led by ANT, Pistons GT won the inaugural 3v3 NBA 2K League championship.

An accomplishment Costanzo attributes to the culture set by the Pistons GT organization.

“It's a family mindset. We look out for one another and it's extremely important for us to work together and all have the same mindset.” he expressed.

This family element is at the core of the Pistons GT org.


Back when the NBA announced the NBA 2K League, Detroit Pistons Vice President of Marketing Operations Mike Donnay along with other members of the Pistons franchise took a trip to Orlando for the League of Legends event.

Surprisingly to him and the staff, things felt very familiar. They began to notice the many parallels between LoL and NBA pro sports franchises.

Mainly the fan engagement.

“The participation that we saw with the fans that were in the arena was amazing. I mean, it was truly like a professional sporting event,” said Donnay.

Back in Detroit, they began to do research to see if it was a viable option for them to buy into the league.

Their research returned many positive results, most strikingly, was the correlation between NBA 2K fans' favorite team in the game and in real life.

“This gives us the ability to connect not only from a Pistons GT perspective but also from a piston standpoint. Obviously marrying the two together,” Donnay explained.

Donnay noted they found that kids were beginning to choose their favorite team as young as eight.

The way Pistons GT has embraced the NBA 2K League was exactly as NBA league execs hoped for when they first launched the league.


The initial buy-in for the NBA 2K Leagues 17 teams was $750,000 a pop. That number has increased substantially.

It was reported that Madrid-based sports org DUX Gaming dropped $25 million to become the league’s 24th NBA 2K League team and the second international team to join.

But is that investment worth it?

According to NBA 2K League President Brendan Donohue, there has been some pretty good return on investment to the NBA League as a whole.

NBA 2K fans are

  • 2.3 times more likely to buy NBA tickets
  • 1.8 times more likely to make NBA-related purchases
  • 5.0 times more likely to buy NBA League Pass

“All of the parties involved are totally aligned,” said Donohue, “The bigger the game gets, the bigger basketball gets, the bigger NBA 2K gets. Everyone wins”


The next stop for the NBA 2K League will be NBA HQ in Midtown Manhattan for the 2023 NBA 2K League All-Star event.

The invite-only competition will include both 5v5 and 3v3 gameplay formats and will award a total of $30,000 to participants.

While some of the players might get distracted by the bright lights, this will be ANT’s second go-around in NYC.

He said his focus will remain on taking home the dub because he’s playing for more than himself, the team, or even the league itself.

He’s playing for all the kids out there like his 13-year-old brother who view him as a role model.