YouTuber Shady breathes NBA 2K life into iconic hoops moments

Oct 11, 2019

YOU'VE probably seen that sick NBA 2K edit of the yet-to-be-released official trailer for the upcoming Space Jam 2 film, starring LeBron James:

What about the futuristic mixtape of the King and his son Bronny as Los Angeles Lakers teammates that the former even reposted on his Instagram account?

This type of video game content has been around social media for some time now, but the advent of more advanced gameplay and graphics — not to mention the availability of multiple gaming units — has allowed creators to experiment with and introduce new formats.

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One of the more popular content creators in this particular genre is Miguel Luis Ledesma aka "Shady00018" (big Eminem fan), whose 113-thousand subscriber count on YouTube doesn't do his 25-million total number of views justice.

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The man behind those viral NBA 2K edits above is also responsible for other fantasy highlight reels, basketball scenarios, and dream matchups, with some even featuring non-players like sports TV personality Stephen A. Smith and rapper Drake.

Shady has been on YouTube for a while now, but his videos didn't pick up steam until he recreated Stephen Curry's game-winning shot against the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2016 that basically changed the franchise:

Big-name YouTubers Chris Smoove and ShakeDown2012 left positive comments on the trending clip, before online sites such as Yahoo Sports and Bleacher Report picked it up. It was then that he decided to do this full time and make NBA 2K his main content, which led to bigger opportunities like being part of the actual game, getting invited to official events, and meeting like-minded people.

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The 31-year-old, Zamboanga-based content creator explains quite succinctly what makes his job so rewarding: "The simple joys of completing a video, like an artist when he finishes crafting a piece."

From his humble beginnings as a rap-loving gamer to realizing his dream of creating the official intro for NBA 2K17, Shady opened up in an interview with SPIN Life about how he was able to turn his childhood passion into a full-fledged career.

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SHADY'S GAMING ROOTS

What got you started in editing videos, even before this whole NBA thing?

It all stems from my childhood. Growing up in the '90s, I was lucky enough to experience the dawn of video gaming. As a kid, I was a huge fan of pro wrestling and basketball, so naturally I played WWE and NBA video games during my spare time. Back then, we didn't have YouTube yet, so the only NBA highlights I saw were on TV. And when the PlayStation came out, every NBA game had this little intro mix of highlights and I was always fascinated about them.

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By January 8, 2007, I had started my YouTube channel. The video-sharing site was relatively new, and nobody taught me the ins and outs of social media and video editing as a whole. I had to learn everything on my own. So I kept creating and churning out videos for myself because I always got a kick from blending hip-hop and NBA gameplay together. I was just lucky that people liked some of my work.

Do you have other video games that you play and create content with?

You can only imagine how many games I've played through the years, but here are some of my favorites: Sonic, Grand Theft Auto series, Odd World: Abe's Oddyssey, and Half-Life, among others. As of the moment, I'm heavy on Apex Legends — that game is addicting. As far as content goes, besides NBA 2K, I also do WWE 2K, Madden NFL, and GTA, too. I'm looking to bring Apex to my YouTube channel at some point.

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How would you compare previous editions of NBA 2K to its latest version, in terms of gameplay and graphics, but more importantly, storytelling?

It's scary. I've played the very first NBA 2K on the Dreamcast, and looking back at it now — particularly how vastly they have improved with each title every year — is astonishing. I remember when NBA 2K made the jump to PS3 and Xbox 360, my jaw dropped when I first saw the graphics. I was flabbergasted looking at the virtual sweat and how realistic the cloth moved on the jerseys. Ah, good times.

One thing I adore about the NBA 2K franchise is the integration of little details here and there — from cameramen and the media in courtside this year then cheerleaders the next, to LeBron James' nail-biting mannerism and Stephen Curry's point-to-the-sky celebration after making a three-point shot.

DECIDING ON HISCAREER

Tell us more about your noticeable fascination in the game's MyCareer mode.

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As far as MyCareer goes, this is one game mode I like spending money on. 2K makes sure to up the MyCareer production every year. They enlist A-list actors for big roles and NBA players to play themselves in the story. We've come a long way from just playing a game to upgrading your created player's attributes, and now enjoying a full-blown movie.

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    Many have jumped on the content bandwagon in recent years, which has led to some undervaluing such career choice. What are your thoughts on the content creation boom and the negative perception of it?

    Content creation is for everyone who is passionate about something. I don't want to sound philosophical, but people are born to create. In 2007, when I started on Youtube, I was baffled by how little (the number of) — or if there were any — content creators were here in the Philippines. Fast forward to today, we have huge personalities, celebrities born out of content creation. Now, I can say it's thriving. Social media is the future. I understand the negative perception; until now my parents still don't know what I do. I guess the negative perception comes from the people who don't fully understand it.

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    Talk about your working relationship with NBA 2K and NBA Live, particularly your involvement with each game.

    It's been great. I've known most of the guys at 2K for years now through social media. It wasn't until 2016 when I got an email from Jeff Thomas — vice president of sports development at Visual Concepts — asking me if I want to create the intro for NBA 2K17. I grabbed the opportunity and they flew me in at their headquarters. It was the time I met most of the developers.

    As for NBA Live, Donnie, their head PR guy noticed my NBA Live 18 videos and decided to reach out to me for a chance to get scanned and be featured in NBA Live 19.

    BIG-NAME ELBOW-RUBBING

    How was your experience during NBA 2K Community Day, meeting the likes of Ronnie Singh (Ronnie 2K) and NBA 2KTV host Rachel DeMita?

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    It was an out-of-the-body experience. I remember the time I was in their headquarters, as they were showing me around the place. It felt like I was floating. I was asking myself, "What am I doing here? Is this even real?" The same goes for the Community Day. I was fanboy-ing and geeking out because a lot of big-name NBA 2K Youtubers were there, too. Rachel took my breath away, ha ha!

    Describe the feeling after getting shout-outs from Shaq, LeBron, The Rock, and other NBA players/celebrities.

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    Being a fan of 'Bron, Rock, Shaq, etc., to see them reposting or shouting you out in a post is just...it's the stuff of dreams. Never in a million years have I ever thought that somehow and in some way I'd create something that they'll like and actually take time off their day to watch. It's very surreal and humbling.

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