NateKahl’s work ethic and hard nosed approach earned him an NBA 2K League title and Finals MVP award with Knicks Gaming. He will now be bringing that tough mentality with him across town as a member of NetsGC. In the below Q&A, he discusses a number of different subjects, including his season with Knicks Gaming and their Cinderella run to a title, his move to NetsGC, and what he is looking forward to most in Season 2.
Let’s start with what I’m sure everyone wants to hear about most, your championship season with Knicks Gaming. You guys were a true Cinderella story and it was incredible to witness. Can you walk us through the most memorable moments from your title winning season? Would you be able to pinpoint a specific moment or moments during the season where you felt you turned things around and how were you guys able to keep that momentum going for so long?
“There were a couple of moments that stand out the most. We faced a lot of adversity early on in the season. But one moment that really stands out was a matchup with 76ers GC about three quarters of the way into the season and we were in a position where if we didn’t win this game we would have been forced to play a play-in game for the upcoming THE TICKET tournament. So we all were like ‘let’s give it all we’ve got’ and we went out there, executed our game plan and were able to win a close game. And that transitions into the second best moment of the season, where we entered the THE TICKET tournament. Which we entered as a one of the last seeds and this was it, we had to win this tournament if we wanted to make the playoffs because mathematically the best we could have finished was slightly below .500. It was a really tough four-game slate, playing some really tough teams, but we were able to buckle down execute and win the tournament — booking our ticket to the postseason and turning our season around.”
How did you keep that momentum going from THE TICKET through the end of the season and ultimately to the Finals?
“To be honest it got very tough at times. But we had to look at it from the perspective of ‘if we let down even a little, or get cold here, we won’t have a very good chance of making a deep postseason run,’ so we stayed composed and came together as a team. And ultimately we were able to do just that.”
What was it like being named Finals MVP as a player who is known most for his defense?
“It was one of the greatest feelings ever. For my entire career I’ve always prided myself on my defensive prowess. So to see that translate on the big stage and create this successful result for my teammates, memories for my family, friends and the fans. It was a pretty cool experience.”
After such a roller coaster, but successful season with Knicks Gaming, what was it like then being selected by NetsGC and becoming the face of a new franchise?
“Obviously my time with Knicks Gaming was a great experience, they are a great organization and it was really a lot of fun. But to be called upon by NetsGC was a life-changing experience. It’s everything I wanted. I’m really excited to get this journey going and to start the season.”
What kind of mentality are you looking to bring with you to NetsGC and what kind of culture are you looking to build? What are you looking to replicate from Season 1?
I’m a defensive first guy. There’s no question about that. So bringing a defensive mindset and mentality, I’m going to put that all on my shoulders. I also feel that I’m a really good locker room guy in terms of understanding film work and what it takes to win. So I think that along with a strong defensive mindset gives us a really good recipe for success here.
Do you feel that your success from Season 1 gives you an edge when being tasked with leading a team?
“ Yeah, yeah for sure. I think anytime you face the kind of adversity we did and come out the other end successful. We went through a lot as a team last year, a lot of ups and downs. But to have experienced that and be prepared for it and be able to help my teammates through that, I definitely think it gives us an edge.”
What are your overall thoughts on your new franchise thus far? Do you have any experience in the past playing with Shockey?
“It’s been an unbelievable experience with the Nets so far. They treat us like absolute superstars. It’s been nothing but the best. Shockey and I have known of each other through 2K for a couple of years now. I’ve always had a lot of respect for his game and for the way he carries himself and handles himself as a person. But it’s been really cool getting to know everyone in the organization and were just ready to start this thing.
How do you feel that you and Shockey’s 2K games compliment each other?
“As everyone knows I’m defensive first. But I can also play some offense. And I think Shockey is just a complete all-around player. He can play any position three (small forward) through five (center). He’s able to stretch the floor, bang down low, rebound, awesome interior defense and even perimeter defense if we need him too. I think we’ll compliment each other really well.”
What are you looking forward to most in Season 2?
“I’m ready to just compete again. I’m ready to get out there and be competitive again. It’s been a long off-season so being able to get out there and be able to play against the best players in the world with my teammates is going to be a lot of fun.
Do you feel like you have something to prove?
“ I’ll always think I have something to prove. That’s just how I carry myself, I don’t ever want to settle for anything. The goal will always be to compete and strive towards greater things.”