From November 9-17, the NBA celebrates Hoops for Troops Week to show respect and support to the men, women and families who serve or have served our nation. One of those men is Head Coach of HEAT Check Gaming Derric Franklin, who served eight years in the United States Army. In the below Q&A, he discusses a number of different subjects, including his time in the Army, his experience being a head coach for the inaugural season of the NBA 2K League and more.
First off, Derric, I would just like to say thank you for your service. It is truly appreciated. To start, would you be able to give a brief background on your experience serving our country?
“I served eight years in the Army, six years active and two years in the reserve. Within those six years of being active, I was deployed twice, once to Iraq and once to Afghanistan. I worked as a communications specialist, so anything that you could communicate on I knew how to fix or troubleshoot. By the time I left the Army I was a Sergeant.”
How did your experience serving our country help prepare you for the tasks and responsibilities of coaching a team of young men?
“The biggest thing that the army prepared me for in regards to my team was that I was able to adapt to and manage multiple different personalities. Including myself, our team had seven different personalities, so just being able to bring those guys together and know how they would get along together worked wonders for me.”
How did you first get involved with NBA 2K and the 2K community?
“Once I got back from Afghanistan I started playing 2K regularly. I believe it was 2K15. When NBA 2K16 came out, they held the first -ver $250k tournament for Pro-Am teams. I participated in the qualifying process for that tournament, but once the tournament happened and the winning team was crowned, those guys that won the $250k kind of just went to the wayside and they were forgotten about. So starting with 2K17, I decided to create the FamousEnough brand so that these players could be noticed throughout the entire year. I wanted to make sure that if you played it, your name was going to be known. And that’s kind of how I built the FamousEnough brand, by making sure that these players who played the game religiously got the notoriety they deserved.”
Being it was the inaugural season of the NBA 2K League, you and the other coaches in the league were all embarking on a journey that no one ever has gone on before as the first-ever 2KL coaches. Could you just share some thoughts on what it was like going through that experience and what it means to you?
“It was extremely tough because there was no blueprint to go by. We were setting the standard and that was the toughest thing about it. Because nobody knew how the season was going to play out. So whatever we did we became the standard, every week through winning and losing, we set the standard. Bringing the team together through both wins and losses. It became challenging to hold a team together though the losses so our way of coming together through the losses was having the guys spend time together off the court. I said to my team ‘hey guys, why don’t we spend the day doing something together (non 2K related)’. So we did just that, we did things like jetski as a team and activities like that helped clear our mind and bring us together and changed the way we played. So now were a family, together we’re a band of brothers and everything we did from that point on was together.”
In what aspects of coaching do you feel that you excelled at most during your first season with HEAT Check Gaming?
“The thing that I felt like I most excelled at as a coach was being that I’m a former player, I am able to take the things my players were saying and suggesting to me into consideration. My word wasn’t bond, it wasn’t my way or no way. I made sure that the guys who are actually playing the game were comfortable with the style that we were running.”
In which aspects do you feel like you can improve?
“Something I feel that I can improve on would be incorporating different strategies and ideas into the flow and the team as we go along.”
What would be your favorite or most memorable moment from Season 1?
My favorite moment of the season would have to be our Week 7 victory over Jazz Gaming. That win turned our season around … It propelled us to a win and to the run we went on to end the season.”
With the qualifier currently underway, we have a whole new crop of players looking to make the league in Season 2. Without giving away any secrets, could you share some things that you look for in a potential player?
“ Off the court stuff is really big for me. Everyone can play this game, but if you have the right personality and attitude that’s important to me. I don’t want someone to play a role or put on an act for me, I want to see the true you. If you’re someone that’s loud and obnoxious then that’s fine, let me see that because some teams can use that. So don’t go out there and give me something that’s not you and expect me to fall for it. I want players who are comfortable being themselves no matter what their personality is.”
What are you looking forward to most in Season 2?
“The competition. I love the competition. HEAT Check Gaming is a band of brothers but this entire league has come together to become a band of brothers as well. Every team, every player gets along so great when we all get together so between that brotherhood and the competition those are the things that I look forward to most.
I saw that recently you were able to meet the legendary Pat Riley, can you tell me a little bit about that experience?
The craziest part was that Pat knew who I was and he knew all about our season. He said to me this, ‘I know how hard it is to lose a Finals. Fifty years I’ve been doing this, I remember every single one of them. The more you remember those losses those wins are going to be so much greater’. And that piece of advice is going to stick with me forever.”