The unprecedented hiatus brought upon by the COVID-19 pandemic gave NBA players a ton of idle time on their hands. For three months, physically active athletes were forced to stay indoors and avoid public workouts.
The NBA’s new generation of young stars, of course, used the spare time to catch up on their gaming habits. Right around the time countries began implementing lockdowns, the Call of Duty franchise released it’s highly anticipated free-to-play battle Royale called COD: Warzone.
The action-packed first-person shooter video game instantly became a favorite among gamers, especially among NBA players.
High-profile basketball stars began spending hours glued to their computer screens, while some even shared their newfound hobby through live streaming.
If you happen to watch some of their streams, most NBA stars didn’t play like casual gamers at all. Warzone actually takes a lot of skill. You see, it’s not easy killing off virtual targets who also seek to hunt you down.
One must possess exceptional eye-hand coordination and dexterity on their fingers to hit the right buttons. Having a good aim is a big plus too.
Aside from killing time, NBA players also partnered with professional gamers to turn their gaming habits for a good cause. Proceeds from CoD tournaments were donated to those heavily affected by the pandemic.
Here are the NBA players who excel at Call of Duty.
Utah Jazz players have an affinity for the game, as Royce O’Neal and Grayson Allen are also known to spend countless hours online. However, it’s the team’s best player, Donovan Mitchell, who is easily the most active among the bunch.
While recuperating from his coronavirus diagnosis last March, Mitchell dedicated himself to the game and participated in countless tourneys. Although his KD ratio (kills/death) is not as eye-popping, Spidah has been known to be a good team player and makes a lot of winning plays for his CoD squad.
Even before he reached the NBA, Justin Jackson hasn’t been shy about his obsession with video games. The 25-year-old Dallas Mavericks player practically brings his console for every road game and has fallen in love with Warzone the moment it came out.
Jackson has been known to team up with the Dallas Empire, a professional CoD team based in Dallas, and has even staged his own tournaments. The 6-foot-7 swingman is known for his aggressive playstyle in-game and even participated in prestige Slam tourney with other pros.
You can’t make an NBA gamer list without Josh Hart. The New Orleans Pelicans’ top reserve’s channel has been extremely popular on Twitch ever since he started streaming Fortnite and PUBG. He made the transition to Warzone and quickly amassed even more followers.
While his contemporaries usually play on consoles, Hart prefers to go old school with a keyboard and mouse. He is best celebrated for his aim and often rakes double-digit kills each game. While he is a laid-back person on the hardwood, Hart has become a meme when he was caught smashing his keyboard in anger during a tournament.
Josh Hart smashed his keyboard after dying in Call of Duty 😳💥 @ESPN_Esports
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) May 3, 2020
The Philadelphia 76ers All-Star perhaps received the biggest compliment when pro-gamer Classic claimed that he could actually compete professionally. While Simmons would likely stick to basketball, he is indeed a talented CoD player. The Aussie point-forward recorded the second-best KD in the Slam tournament at 1.4.
While pundits mock Simmons’ inability to hit jumpers on the hardwood, he is known as one of the most accurate snipers in CoD.
Speaking of snipers, Booker is one of the best ones in basketball right now. The Kentucky product also got bit hard by the CoD bug during the quarantine and has been playing non-stop since. The 23-year-old All-Star even heard the suspension of season from a viewer while he was streaming a live game.
D-Book streams all of his games on a nightly basis and was also invited in the Slam tourney for charity. He is a tactical player who plays the game with calm and calculated vibe. Booker’s stream has even began making some serious coin, which he donates to charities.
The Sacramento Kings’ guard is as slick on COD as he is on the basketball court. Apart from being one of the most fundamentally sound Warzone players out there, Fox is also considered to be one of the most hilarious streamers.
The 6-foot-3 speedster tallied an amazing 1.1 KD ratio at the Slam tournament and was part of the winning team alongside Josh Hart and Meyers Leonard.
Fox even held his own against CoD champ “Censor” when they played 1 on 1.
Leonard has already proclaimed himself as the best CoD player in the NBA, and its hard to disagree with him on this one. The Heat center has been known to excel at every video game he tries, and Warzone is no exemption.
His 25,000 Twitch followers laud Leonard’s well-rounded skills in the game, particularly his sniping prowess and excellence in close gunfights. Leonard recorded a whopping 2.67 KD in the tournament — which was miles ahead of Ben Simmons who was at second place.
— SLAM (@SLAMonline) March 30, 2020