BROOKLYN, N.Y. — Chiquita Evans (Chiquitae126) spoke with media following her selection by Warriors Gaming Squad with the 56th overall pick in the 2019 NBA 2K League Draft:
Q. You are the first woman to be in the NBA 2K League. How does that make you feel, and what have the women in your life done to get you to this moment?
CHIQUITA EVANS: It feels surreal. It’s an amazing experience. I’m very glad to be here, excited to be here. It’s a very humbling experience. Women actually got me through this — a lot of my friends who play 2K with me. They’ve been pushing me to get through everything, especially when I found out that I made the draft pool. I’ve had amazing support both male and female, and I’m just very, very excited to be in the position that I’m in.
Q. What do you bring to this Warriors team?
CHIQUITA EVANS: I feel like I bring a hardworking two-way player, a really good knock-down shooter. I pride myself on defense. They’re going to get a hardworking player ready to fill in whatever role they need.
Q. Can you talk about how you’ve been in games and had men tell you that you don’t belong there? What about the reaction you got when they announced you were in the draft pool?
CHIQUITA EVANS: I’d just say that is their opinion. I know how hard I worked and what I put in to get into this draft and everything I’ve done, the sacrifices I’ve made, just like anyone else. I’m just going to go out there and do my part and prove everybody wrong.
Q. Before the draft started, Brendan Donahue mentioned how female players would often be frozen out of the ball once they were discovered on the headset. Did you experience this at any point, and how did you fight through it?
CHIQUITA EVANS: I’ve experienced it quite a bit. The way I fight through it is to control what you can control. That’s something the 2K League GMs and coaches kept telling us: Control what you can control. So I did other things. I played defense. I rebounded. I made sure I passed the ball to the correct player that was open. I made sure that I was effective on other sides of the court besides offensively.
Q. You’re from Chicago. So many greats have come from there. How does the Chicago gaming scene mirror the Chicago basketball scene?
CHIQUITA EVANS: Well, gaming in Chicago is more along the lines of Call Of Duty because, of course, they don’t have a 2K League team, which is kind of a bummer. But I go to some of the events because I like watching fighting games as well. They’re really big on fighting games.
Q. Who are some of your favorite hip-hop artists and who are you listening to before the games?
CHIQUITA EVANS: One of my favorite hip-hop artists is Biggie. I’m a little older, so I like Biggie, 2Pac.
As far as leading up to the games, I listen to R&B because I’m a really mellow person. I don’t like to listen to rap before a game because I feel like I get over-hyped.
Q. Did you anticipate getting emotional on the stage? Does it surprise you a little bit?
CHIQUITA EVANS: I was trying to hold it in. To be honest with you, I told myself I wasn’t going to cry, that I was going to hold it in, but it was just too hard.
Q. You got a big reaction from the people in the crowd, too. Biggest cheer of the night.
CHIQUITA EVANS: Yeah. I can just honestly say that it’s been amazing and the support that I have gotten over the last few months has been amazing. I didn’t expect it, but I appreciate everyone. I love everybody who has been supportive.
Q. This was a big moment for not just the 2K League but also for esports in general. Have people around esports reached out to you as you’ve gone through the draft process?
CHIQUITA EVANS: Yes, a lot of magazines, bloggers, podcasts. I’ve done a lot of interviews. A lot of people just want my perspective on the gaming scene for women in general and want me to answer questions as far as do I feel like it will improve. I feel like it will improve, but it starts with women ourselves. We have to go out here and get ourselves known. We have to learn to have tough skin and just go out there and compete, no matter what anyone says.
Q. You’re probably now going to be something of a leader, in a role model position. Do you feel ready for that?
CHIQUITA EVANS: Definitely. I played basketball my whole life. I’ve always been a leader. I don’t have any problems with being a leader. I played high school, AAU, college and semi-pro basketball. I started varsity my freshman year through my senior year. All-state, all-region, all-district. Always been a leader. So that definitely won’t be a problem.
Q. When the season is done, are you going to go back to working at Planet Fitness or are you going to keep doing this full-time?
CHIQUITA EVANS: I’m going to ride this wave as long as I can. Wherever the wind blows is where I’m going.
Q. What do you see as your biggest obstacle this season?
CHIQUITA EVANS: Proving myself. [Proving] that I belong, because like I said, a lot of people feel like I don’t belong here. I’ve worked hard, so I’m just proving myself and showing that I deserve to be here.
Q. How are you going to adjust to the new locale?
CHIQUITA EVANS: Shorts, all day. I’m from Chicago, but I hate being cold. Trust me, it’s not going to be a big deal. I hate cold weather.
Q. Are you hoping to bump into Steph Curry around the practice facility?
CHIQUITA EVANS: Yeah, I’m going to see if I can do a real-life shooting competition. That’s what I was known for, so let’s see if I can shoot with the best.
Q. You said your favorite is KD, right?
CHIQUITA EVANS: I’m a huge Kevin Durant fan. I followed him through Oak Hill when he was in high school, then when he played in Texas.
Q. How did you develop the tough skin you needed to get here?
CHIQUITA EVANS: Playing real-life basketball. I was a late-bloomer. I didn’t start playing basketball until I was 12, 13 years old. When I tried out for my middle-school team, I only made the team because I could shoot, and I didn’t play the whole season. I didn’t play a second. That developed my competitiveness and my tough skin. I took a complete summer following that season and worked on nothing but ball handling and passing, and I’ve never really been benched ever again. I’m just a competitive person, and that’s where I learned to be tough.
Q. How about Chicago athletes? Who are the Chicago athletes you looked up to?
CHIQUITA EVANS: I love D-Rose. I love the fact that he is continuing to strive. He is getting better and better no matter what anyone says about his game. I love what he is doing for the Timberwolves right now. I’m a huge D-Wade fan, too.
Q. How nervous were you as the draft kept going?
CHIQUITA EVANS: Oh, I was nervous from beginning to end. I think I slept maybe three hours last night. I think I slept maybe 10 hours in three days. I’ve been extremely nervous for the last three, four days.
Q. What was the first thing that went through your mind when you were picked? And who is here with you today?
CHIQUITA EVANS: Oh, man, the first thing that went through my mind was, “Thank God, I don’t have to be so nervous anymore.” My hands were shaking the entire time. I was getting cold. So when my name was picked, I was very appreciative to the Warriors for picking me and believing in me. I’m actually here by myself. My mom couldn’t make it.
Q. You were obviously sitting there for a couple hours. Did it ever go through your head that you were not going to be drafted?
CHIQUITA EVANS: Definitely. It definitely did. But I had faith. Everything happens for a reason. I feel that if it was in my will, it was going to happen. So here we are.