The term “OG” is one of endearment often associated with someone at the forefront of a specific field.
As one of the most prominent figures in NBA 2K circles, Ivan Curtiss certainly fits the description given he’s most recognizable by his nickname, OG King Curt.
It’s a moniker born a few years back when Curtiss began hosting online leagues and tournaments. Yet the OG tag certainty still applies, if not even more so, in his new position leading the expansion Nets GC.
“Within my own team, I view it as being a big brother,” he said. “Sometimes I feel like a father figure almost.”
The just-turned 40-year-old tells of a recent interaction with one of his players, some 20 years his junior, that perfectly illustrates this point.
As the story goes, it was pay day for members of Nets GC. Some of the rookies had not yet set up direct deposit, meaning Curtiss hand-delivered hard checks to those players. For one player in particular, it was the first time in his young life he had received an actual check.
“So I had to show him how to open up the check,” Curtiss fondly recalled. “It was like a father-son moment. And we laughed and joked about it.”
His role spans a number of responsibilities: coach, general manager, mentor and even, occasionally, banker.
It’s a career that was fostered in the 90s on Nintendo and Sega Genesis before starting to take shape when Curtiss was a member of the Navy. It was there that his love for the NBA 2K series was fostered.
“We played video games heavy on the boat when we weren’t working,” he said of his time at sea.
His passion for NBA 2K had him getting involved in online events and eventually led to an introduction to LT Fairley, who shared similar gaming interests. That relationship would spawn the MPBA, which by 2016 became a breeding ground for some of the top 2K players in the world, many of whom went on to be drafted in season one of the NBA 2K League.
“Me being an older guy in the community, that’s where the OG thing comes from,” Curtiss said. “I pretty much took it as an honor that we were able to have those high caliber of players participate in our league and eventually move on to the professional league. It was just an honor to be a part of their journey as they make it to the pros.”
Curtiss and Fairley were hired as draft analysts for Bucks Gaming prior to the 2018 season, with Curtiss staying on as the team’s community manager. (Fairley now serves as head coach of Mavs Gaming.)
Less than a year later, with the league having expanded by four teams, Curtiss was offered a “dream” opportunity — the chance to oversee his own 2K League team with Nets GC. It was a pairing that Curtiss immediately felt was the perfect fit for both sides.
“They just showed a tremendous amount of love and care, and it’s been like a family ever since I joined,” the Dayton, OH native said. “So along with it being a dream come true, I just think I’m in the right place for me. That’s most important. I think the guys that are here feel that as well, because it has funneled from the top down all the way to the bottom.”
Curtiss set out to put his imprint on the team beginning with September’s Expansion Draft, with each expansion team selecting a pair of unretained players. He was mindful of the type of challenges that would face his new players when forecasting who his first two picks in franchise history would be.
“We had to get veteran guys in here who would be able to set the foundation from a character standpoint,” he said. “Not so much as just being talented on the game. Guys that I could trust, that I know will lead on and off the stage.”
Enter NateKahl and Shockey. Kahl, the MVP of last season’s NBA 2K League Finals, and Shockey, added to the league in the middle of the previous season as a replacement player. Both checked all the boxes from a leadership, maturity and skill standpoint.
“I got veterans like NateKahl and Shockey, who can pretty much assist from a player aspect,” Curtiss said. “Basically just getting guys to buy in and understand that it’s a different level of competing when you’re on the stage than being at home in your own comfortable setting and playing the game online.”
As the team roster construction continued in the 2019 Draft in March, Curtiss was again cognizant of adding not only talent to his roster, but a blend of personalities that would complement one another.
So with the 12th pick, Nets GC made a somewhat surprising selection in taking Wavy, a local point guard from the Bronx who Curtiss describes as tough-minded and confident.
“Those are the type of players you need on the stage,” he said. “He’s a very composed kid and mature for his age. He’s slowly becoming one of our vocal guys. He keeps the vibe pretty positive.”
Managing the personalities and fitting the pieces together are just two of the many challenges faced by Curtiss. By preaching chemistry and cohesion over straight statistical success in his roster of six players, he feels the on-court results will naturally come.
The opening week of the season was a strong barometer for the ups and downs an 18-week schedule can produce. Nets GC won their opener at THE TIPOFF against defending champion Knicks Gaming, a victory made sweeter in the first matchup between New York’s newest rivals. That was followed by a loss in their next outing to Magic Gaming for a 1-1 tournament record.
With Week 1 of the regular season here, Nets GC faces a Friday double-header to get things started. For Curtiss, it marks another milestone in a journey that was once a dream on a boat in the military that has since morphed into his reality.
“Success for me is us competing in every game we participate in,” he said. “Just us being confident in each other and going out and competing on a nightly basis. If we can go out and do that I think we’ll be right where we want to be.
“And that’s in the finals of tournaments or making the playoffs and working our way to a championship.”