×

NBA Live 19: Nipsey Hussle, Devin Booker Celebrate at EA Sports Party

All-Star Weekend is the glammed out event of the NBA calendar, bringing together showmanship, music, branding and basketball. EA Sports took a page from the All-Star Weekend playbook for the launch of this year’s edition of the classic franchise, NBA Live 19.

Attendees at Goya in Hollywood crowded an indoor court on Friday Night for a dunk contest scored by judges Nick Young, Jadakiss and Lil Dickey, followed by a performance from LA hip-hop icon Nipsey Hussle, with a cameo from fellow west coaster, YG. Meanwhile, gamers got to try out NBA Live, which included an updated LeBron in Lakers purple and gold.

Seeing a video game version of themselves is a childhood fantasy come true — and way to further connect with fans — for NBA players.

“I used to be the kid looking up to other athletes,” says Devin Booker, the go-to guard the Phoenix Suns signed to a five-year, $158 million max contract in July.

“People know who you are now,” he says. “I’ve always wanted to be the face of a franchise.”

While rappers want to be ballers and ballers want to be rappers, do rappers want to be gamers? The answer is yes.

“When I’m on tour, it’s the thing to do on the bus,” Lil Dickey told Variety. “It’s so addictive, you start playing and then two hours just passed.”

So, EA did something about it and put them in the game. With face scan image capturing technology, Nipsey and YG had their likenesses captured backstage and were put in the game on the spot.

As gaming has evolved, so has the attention to detail. From new haircuts to newly released signature sneakers, EA updates player attributes throughout the season, in real time. The game also incorporates aspects of backstory, character creation and a dominant soundtrack.

As video games evolve, so has hip hop. With a new wave of artists, veterans like Nipsey and Jadakiss are watching closely to see where they take genre.

“I think it’s always good to embrace the new,” said Jadakiss, who debuted in 1994 under Sean “P. Diddy” Combs’ Bad Boy label. “This is a culture. This is an art form.”

“Myself and my brothers, the Lox, we always embraced the new cats,” he added, “because it’s good to give them that game, that wisdom, just to keep the culture going.”

“I think you can understand something without it being native to you,” said Nipsey, who came on the scene via his own mixtape in 2005.

“People like E-40, people like Jay-Z, Snoop Dogg, Busta Rhymes, people that have been relevant so many different eras,” he said. “They have certain abilities to adapt without never sounding like they played themselves.”

Following a warm reception from the hometown crowd, Nipsey lit up in recognition of L.A.’s wealth of talent.

“I think Kendrick, myself, YG, Dom Kennedy, Jay 305, Ty Dolla, that’s all LA,” he said. “All those names built a new moment.”

“The culture is specific here,” he added. “It’s been years of growing an audience. So I think it’s an example of a slow cook. We put it all together organically.”

Also in Hollywood last night, Josh Groban, George Takei, musician Yoshiki and Mayor Eric Garcetti were on hand for the launch of Japan House Los Angeles, a new two-floor complex promoting Japanese culture at Hollywood & Highland.

Josh Groban and YOSHIKI attend the JAPAN HOUSE Los Angeles grand opening event held at the Ray Dolby Ballroom on August 24, 2018, in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Ryan Miller/JAPAN HOUSE Los Angeles)
CREDIT: Ryan Miller/Capture Imaging

Popular on Variety

More Scene

  • Taron Egerton Elton John Rocketman Live

    Elton John and Taron Egerton Duet at 'Rocketman' Awards Season Event at the Greek Theatre

    “Rocketman” has officially launched into awards season. Paramount hosted a screening of the film with a live-performance of the score by the Hollywood Symphony Orchestra and a headlining performance by Elton John and the film’s star Taron Egerton. John and Egerton — who is in contention for best actor for his portrayal of the singer [...]

  • Hailee Steinfeld Dickinson Premiere

    Hailee Steinfeld, Jane Krakowski on What Modern Women Can Learn From Emily Dickinson

    Emily Dickinson lived in the 1800s, but if you ask the team behind Apple TV Plus’ upcoming series, “Dickinson,” her story is more current than ever. Hailee Steinfeld stars in the the modern-day retelling of the poet’s young life. The actress — who makes her first full-time foray into television with the role and also [...]

  • Don Cheadle

    ACLU Bill of Rights Gala to Honor Don Cheadle, Feature Appearances by Selena Gomez, Regina Hall

    The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California will honor “Avengers: Endgame” and “Black Monday” star Don Cheadle at the organization’s annual Bill of Rights dinner on Nov. 17 at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. Cheadle will be recognized for his activist work as an advocate for racial and gender equality, immigration reform, reproductive and LGBTQ [...]

  • Helen Mirren attends the LA Premiere

    Why Helen Mirren Considers Catherine the Great to Be 'Superhuman'

    It’s no secret that Dame Helen Mirren has a knack for nailing regal roles. Following her Oscar-winning on-screen reign as Queen Elizabeth II back in 2006, the thespian brings yet another powerful ruler to life in HBO’s limited mini-series “Catherine the Great.” Just as she does on the small screen as Russian Empress Catherine II, [...]

  • Taika Waititi Jojo Rabbit Premiere

    Why Director Taika Waititi Decided to Play Adolf Hitler in 'Jojo Rabbit'

    “Fox Searchlight blackmailed me into doing it,” Taika Waititi told Variety of playing Adolf Hilter in “Jojo Rabbit” at the film’s premiere at American Legion Post 43 on Tuesday night in Hollywood. Staying mum when asked which other actors had been on his wish list to play the role, Waititi explained why he eventually decided [...]

  • Jessica Biel Limetown Premiere

    Why 'Limetown' Star & Producer Jessica Biel Thought the Show Was Based on a True Story

    In a world of increasingly outlandish headlines, the story behind “Limetown” — in which an entire community in rural Tennessee disappears overnight — seems plausible. Even Jessica Biel, who executive produces and stars in the Facebook Watch television adaptation of the hit 2015 podcast, was initially convinced that it was real. “I just thought I [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content