“I had a different mindset going into combine. I played an entirely different way.” – Interview with Kingsley “Crowned King” Braggs

Joined by Kingsley “Crowned King” Braggs, James talked shop with the Top 150 prospect leading up to the NBA2K League draft, which takes place on March 5th. James and Kingsley talk mindsets, motivation, and no phone policies.


Hey guys, it’s James with another special interview for Project: Esports presents. I’m joined here by Kingsley “Crowned King” Braggs. Kingsley why don’t you go ahead and introduce yourself.

Yes, like you said I’m Kingsley Braggs, twenty-five years old from New York City. I currently live Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and I’ve been playing this game for about three or four years now competitively.

Right on now let’s to just jump right into it. So a lot of guys a lot of guys that start out in like the like esports scene, They usually start like you know when they’re young right. Like I mean I guess, you know 20-22 is kind of like a a later age to kind of get into gaming and stuff like that. You know what kind of kind of made you decide like you know what I’m going to I’m going to grind at this I’m gonna make this my thing even though I guess I guess technically you’re at the higher end of the age spectrum?

Well you know I’ve always just played 2K for fun and you know my little brother I stumbled upon him a couple of years ago playing pro-AM and I was just so interested by because you know when I was growing up we didn’t have anything like that. So I just thought like a dynamic mode and once I got involved with that you know I met some guys in the community and the PlayStation community and they just you know they kind of introduced me to the potential of what this game was going to be. And then you know I saw the vision and I just started grinding. I enjoyed the game. And you know once they announced the league I was like, “yeah I’m I’m completely ready for this this is what I love to do.” And I just stuck with it.

It’s awesome because I mean you come from the same era gaming that I was like. I mean we grew up on like what like PlayStation 1 and like Nintendo 64, I mean this is it. Like I mean that’s kind of the same thing for me to man, like esports to me, it was never never a concept back in the day right. I appreciate that. That’s awesome. So in regards that like did you with it with the league coming at the first time did you did you kind of go through the process and stuff like that. Or was it something you were like kind of skeptical on and kind of keep your distance?

Oh no, I was all in last year. I went 100 percent. I played the combine through its entirety to be honest.

Okay. Right on man. Hell yeah. That’s awesome. So on that this year around you got you got flagged for the top 150?

Yeah, right.

So, tell me what that was like because I can imagine that was for you, I feel like that was quite the experience.

Yeah. I say all time like that, The first season I was I was sitting by my phone like, “where’s the e-mail. Let’s wait for the e-mails.” You know going crazy. And this year was different. You know I had a different mindset going into combine. I played an entirely different way. And when the e-mails came out you know I was at work, and we have a no phone policy there so I’m just I’m oblivious to everybody’s joy. You know I get home and my friends are screaming, “go check my e-mail, check my e-mail.” I’m like, “Oh man. I’m not sure I want to go check it yet.” And I go open it and I’m just, I see the word, “congratulations.” And I’m like, I just start going hysterical just start yelling top of my lungs, so it’s really funny how that worked out.

Hey, man look I mean sometimes the better approach to have a right, just carry on in your business, do you do your thing as usual, right in like —

Right. Exactly. And allow things to come to you.

Well that’s just it, that’s it. Like I mean like with the way Twitter is now and like, let’s be real man, the boys are vocal on there. When the first round of e-mails started going out, that’s all I saw it, was just everybody losing their shit, right? I mean I think you were kind of saved by being isolated man, I can only imagine the stress like you know doing the same shit again, right?

Yeah I got my email about two to three hours late so yeah I definitely had a moment to myself.

No, I mean that’s good, I think, I honestly think Kingsley, that’s the way to get at it. So that being said though like you know, we already talked about you’re not like one the young cats man like you know, you’re in management at your job. I mean you do a bunch of stuff on the go man. What’s it like? Do you find you have a bit of a easier gig like you know, being able to like just like grind the game and not have to worry about studies and stuff like that? Or do you find like work bogs you down more than school would?

It’s different ways to look at it. You know I definitely don’t have the amount of time to say, “ OK well today I’m just gonna play nonstop”. and grind, right? But it also gave me a different mindset like last year I had that time. You know I had so much time during the combine that I was just on,playing, so serious. So in every possession in the game, and then this year I was like well, let’s schedule the days that I can play the combine because I know I have to work and I can’t just quit my job and and and leave it up to chance! But it also calmed me down, like “OK. These are the times I know I’m going to play.” I’m going to settle in, you know everything; no phone, no nothing. Just sit with the guys that I knew and just focus in on the combine on those days and I think it gave me like a more a more relaxed style of play this year as opposed to stressing everything the first year. So, I would say it’s a two way street. I don’t have as much time just to grind. But I also was more organized and had my mindset, and it was clear when I was playing this year.

Yeah. You’re almost in more of this like this weird euphoric state between like focused and relaxed state?

That’s right. That’s why I say it’s definitely like a interesting perspective. That’s a great question. It’s just like when you sit back and think about it you can have a disadvantage and advantage from having to be able to have a set schedule of working hours you know.

Yeah. I mean I honestly think that sounds a lot more structured than like I hear about these guys, and you know they grind and they grind all night, and they just run off no sleep and all that stuff man like and, unfortunately AND fortunately I guess you don’t have that luxury right. No, that’s cool. That’s awesome. So I want to kind of get your impression of like the league the first time around like, I was a spectator too right? So I kind of know like what you what you thought about it and like what you think you’d be like worked on. What was your what were your big takeaways from from watching it?

I think the league was definitely a success. Obviously, season one. What I could say could be worked on, it’s probably an individual team thing. I saw some teams had better content than others. You know if you follow teams more closely obviously you know I have friends that made the league so I definitely did follow their teams more closely, but I thought it was an amazing atmosphere. You know just watching the energy that each side brought you know, on that stage it’s just dynamic. That’s the that’s the one thing that I can’t wait to experience. You know just get them on the stage with my team and jawwin’ at guys and just showing our passion. That’s really important to me.

Nice man. OK. That’s gonna want something I want kind of build on too, because I mean a common thing that I bring up whenever I talk to 2K players is like, you guys are like a different breed. You guys are very unique in the esports scope right? To the point where like I want to call you esports players but at the same time like I don’t know man, like it’s it’s something different because like I mean the energy is different, you know the vibe is different. What do you think really separates you guys from like from the rest of these esports, like CS:GO, League of Legends, DotA? Do you think it’s that energy and that like you know like trash talk and all that stuff or do you think, it’s like something else?

I think the personalities in 2K, I think we’re, I would say the most dynamic of the esports, because there’s so many guys that played real sports, you know? Like for me I play basketball right? And when I played 2K on a competitive level I just play the energy that I would put on the floor. You know, when people watch me play or they listen to me play, they’re like, “ bro, you sound like you’re on a real court.” That’s because I’m translating what I would do onto the court you know? And I think that’s the difference, I think that’s why you hear so much emotion, so much communication. Guys yelling. And jawwin’ back and forth is that they’re displaying what they would do in real life situations.

Yeah. I never really thought of that, like I feel like a lot of guys probably do that right. Like they kind of carry the same that same hype, same energy, from like playing on the court into the game, right? So like that math adds up. Like, my background is primarily League of Legends and Rainbow 6, and stuff like that. And you guys are unique where like you guys are really the only ones that have a sport that translates over, right? That’s good man. I think it’s an edge for you guys. I really do and that’s why I like talking to you guys and like interviewing you guys, because I mean it’s unique man, it’s different and I really appreciate that. So with that being said, what do you think of the court and like the arena setup? Like, do you prefer that to traditional like five across from five but not actually looking at each other. Do you like the way they got the setup, where you can actually look see the other guy and stuff like that?

Yeah, I like that because that’s a whole other factor. When it’s off-season like you can hear guys talk about it now. It’s easy. It’s very easy to be loud. And to sit and say certain things and you’re in the comfort of your home. But when you’re on that stage, the pressure the cameras, the fans that are behind you, the yelling going back and forth — who is going to you know shore up in or who’s going to actually be able to continue to play through all of that? And I think that’s just another factor to the competitive nature of basketball, to be honest.

You’ve got to hit the nail on the head there man because, I think that is something that’s just like it stays true to the sport. That kind of influence to the game right? So I just got to look at looking forward for yourself I guess like I kind of want to kind of get a little real with you know, like not nothing too crazy, like what are you going to do if you do get drafted like, I want to know what’s in your headspace? Are you even thinking about that? Is that something that’s like kind of the back of your head or like are you just going to do like you did with combine and just, business as usual?

I’m looking at this, you know I’m trying to keep my tough face on with like my family and everything like business as usual but this is definitely a dream experience and I just, you know I’m handling everything that I possibly can, up until that day to make sure that my name is called because this is definitely a dream and this is what I love to do and it would just be a blessing to be able to do this.

I like that Kingsley, like I appreciate you putting up the front, man, like I mean you gotta’ keep the stoicism, right? Like you don’t wanna get too hype on it, and you know what? I think age plays a lot into this, like I’ve talked to some of the other guys they said like the average age is around your age is that is that true?

Yeah. If you want to say, I think it’s 21 to 24, so I’m a year over that. You know, at 2K we have the “old head”. I’m not one of the “old heads”. I got a couple of years before that, but yeah I would say most of the guys that I interact with 21 and 24

Right on. So yeah just like a couple other things kind of around you, I know you and I talked briefly over Twitter about this, but you had some shit happen to you, man. Like you had your place broken into it stuff like that.

That just goes right back into what we spoke about. It’s like everything for Season 1 was lined up for me to succeed, you know? I had just got a different type of schedule at work where it allowed me to be like, “Oh, well I’m going to be able to play this combine for as long as I need to.” And I played, I play, I played, but the next year it’s like it was so rocky. Just to even be able to get a Playstation back to qualify, you know? But it gave me a different perspective. You know, it’s because I didn’t expect anything, I said, “OK well I’m just going to I’m going to play as much as I can and and see what happens.” I definitely did notice, you know about 75 percent through the combine, these numbers that I have are amazing. Maybe this is a realistic? So, I just pushed through at that point and just finished out my games.

To see such a contrast between you know season one and season two for you, like Kingsley, I’ll be honest with you. The fact that you even like pulled it through with all this crap going on with you man, that’s impressive as it is man.

It’s funny how life works.

Yeah, you’re not wrong there man. Now, just kind of going towards the social media side of things, we talked briefly about content and stuff like that. I’ve been noticing a big push for these guys, a lot of the players right now, especially the ones who are retained, really emphasizing like the personal branding and carrying yourself as a professional, stuff like that. Do you did you find that — because you played like pro stuff like that — did you find that that was a problem before the league started? That there wasn’t any real professionalism or is this like something that’s like new really this year in the league starting up?

I don’t think it was a problem, I think that it wasn’t a thought. I think guys just did their streaming, and you know just put out highlight clips and whatnot, but I think that being in the league, and you know recognizing the potential, and I think a lot of teams do a good job of you know what the community outreach and stuff. I don’t know if you’ve seen all the content of these teams put out on on working with their communities and stuff. It’s opened the eyes of guys to to want others to get to know the real person behind the game not just their PSN or gamertag, they want to know who these people are and what they care about and I think that that’s what you’re seeing. I think you got see your guys are developing a brand and image for their person themselves.

Yeah, no man, you’re hitting these on the head because I think that’s it, people want to meet just the people they don’t want to see just the handle, right? And that was the thing I noticed with, like I think was the Mavs? I saw them do like a big community day thing like Dimez is there and stuff like that. So I mean it’s good to see man. I’m happy that like these teams are putting in that content so early because I mean this is something you usually see develop so late in other games, right? Like I mean NBA is trying to really hit all the marks right out the gate, right?

Right.

I know there were a lot of issues, I don’t even want to call them issues, there was some discussion around 2K19 being so radically different from 2K18, ‘ike did you did you find any of those issues? Like I mean it helped you, I guess you know like you made it to the combine quite well and stuff right? So how did you find it?

I mean, first of all I love, I LOVE 19. I understand what it is, and why it might be a shock to some people. 18’s defense was completely obliterated through patches and everything else. It was almost impossible to stop people and I think that 2k wanted to fix that, you know as strong as they could, and made defense this year incredibly powerful. You know if you can if you are communication, you have a great lock down, you know it’s going to be tough for guys to even get the ball up past half court. And I think that from a time where you can just do twenty-five dribble moves and no matter what you do you’re not going to lose the ball, to you might not be able to do two or three dribble moves without losing the ball is just shock for guards. I love the game I play power forward, I love the game.

So yeah, even the meta shift doesn’t faze you at all, eh?

You know whatever meta, since 16–17, I’m just going to adapt it and play.

And that’s the mentality you need too, man. That’s just it. I don’t really have anything else for you today, Kingsley. That being said do you have anything you want to shout out, do you have any final closing messages?

No, I just wanted to thank you for this opportunity once again and when you did see the news on Twitter, you checked in with me. I really appreciate that. It means a lot to me. And just thanks for this opportunity for allowing me to come on and speak and let people know who I am.

Hey man, after all the crap you’ve been through man, it’s been a privilege talking to you man. It’s been it’s been eye opening too, man. I appreciate it.

Yeah no problem.

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