A lot of NBA-focused media is about access. Reporters aim to give fans an insider’s take on what’s going on around the sport, league-run outlets like NBA.com and NBA TV offer interviews and features, and players themselves now reach out directly through social media. However, each of these efforts is really just a proxy for being part of an NBA team. Fans could never hope to live that — it’s an experience available to only a select few coaches and players.
A longtime NBA big man is attempting to change all that. Thirty-three-year-old Lou Amundson, a current free agent who has played for 10 teams (and the Bulls twice) since 2007, has plans to make a virtual reality game about the life of a professional basketball player. From Jared Zwerling for NBPA.com, the official website of the players’ union:
Now, 22 years later, Amundson has his own plans for a cutting-edge NBA video game, as well as an NBA fan experience, that would both incorporate virtual reality. Overall, he’s in talks with a virtual reality company about starting its sports division, which would involve different athletics. […]
Amundson is currently exploring the development of an NBA virtual reality video game, where, as he describes it, “you can actually interact within the NBA player’s world and have a real life-like interaction with the player.” The NBA fan experience he’d like to create is a concept that can be described as social media meets virtual reality, where instead of just seeing a photo of a player somewhere, you can actually feel as though you’re there as him. For starters, he would experiment with granting access to himself.
“I get asked all the time, ‘What is it like to be an NBA player?’” he said. “So I thought it would be interesting to actually show people, like put them in my shoes, put them in an NBA player’s shoes, and they’d get to experience more or less what it’s like to be an NBA player. It can be a powerful experience to actually show them and be there in that experience. And people love authentic content; people love stuff that they know is like a voyeuristic view into someone else’s life.”
At this point, Amundson is still learning more about the hardware technology that would be needed to pull off his project ideas. “Stuff in VR takes time to write code,” he said. “But we’re definitely on that path right now.”
Zwerling adds that Amundson is also involved with Uber and Palantir, two Silicon Valley giants, although it’s unclear in what capacity. Amundson and other players had the chance to learn about more business opportunities in the tech world during the union’s first tech summit in San Francisco in July. Attendees included Golden State Warriors Stephen Curry and Andre Iguodala, the latter of whom helped to organize the event.
It’s not clear how far along Amundson’s game is, but it sounds like a pretty cool idea. On the other hand, he might not be the best subject for the first edition. Fans definitely want to know what it’s like to be an NBA player, but the reality (virtual or otherwise) of Amundson’s professional life could be a little too real. Relying on training camp invites and 10-day contracts is certainly interesting, but it’s also not necessarily what a fan thinks of when someone mentions living like a professional athlete. Plus, Amundson’s life as a bona fide NBA rotation player has never seemed especially glamorous, either. Does the virtual reality gamer want to spend time setting screens and rebounding? Off-the-court life doesn’t figure to be any more exciting — get ready for people gawking at your height and mistakenly assuming that you’re Australian.
Nevertheless, I’ll be the first in line to try out The Lou Amundson Experience. Whatever his relative name, there’s no question that his normal day is more interesting than mine.
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