Toronto Raptors star Scottie Barnes is now a gaming influencer who's ready to beat your ass at NBA 2K

‘Sometimes you have to go undercover, turn your mic on and talk crazy to some people,’ Toronto basketball star says of gaming obsession

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Whether he’s hitting the hardwood in real life or suiting up as the Toronto Raptors in a video game, Scottie Barnes says the competitive spirit stays the same.

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“It might be even higher,” the 22-year-old says with a grin in a video call. “I’m high-level competitive when I’m on the floor. My friends all know how I am on the court, but I’m really intense when I’m playing NBA 2K as well.”

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This month, Barnes, who averaged 15.3 points, 6.6 rebounds, 4.8 assists, 1.1 steals and 34.8 minutes in 77 games last season with the Raptors, joined the PlayStation Playmakers program, which features the likes of basketball great LeBron James, John Wick: Chapter 4’s Rina Sawayama, Stranger Things star Finn Wolfhard and comedian King Bach, among others.

The program brings together notable names from the worlds of sport and culture “to celebrate their passion for gaming and PlayStation.”

With these celebrities giving fans early looks and behind-the-scenes access to games, the versatile swingman, who connects with gamers on Twitch livestreams, says he’s living out a new dream.

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“I grew up playing PlayStation. It’s just something that kept me and my friends connected,” the 2021-22 NBA rookie of the year says. “I have some PlayStation friends that I didn’t even know, and now they’re my close friends and people that I talk to every day.”

With 17 points, five blocks and five assists following the Raptors’ opening-night 97-94 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves, Barnes isn’t sweating his player rating in the game (he comes in with 83).

“First time I saw myself in 2K, I remember thinking, ‘Damn, I’m in 2K,’” he says chuckling. “I’ve been playing that game for six, seven years. and now I’m actually in this game. I have friends texting me telling me they just dropped 30 points playing as me in 2K … That’s pretty lit.”

As a new Raptors season kicks off, Barnes discusses his approach to gaming, his off-court style, and what a day off in Toronto looks like for him.

I know you’re a big NBA 2K guy. Who do you like playing with?

The Raptors for sure. Maybe the Bucks, Golden State, just because Steph Curry … you can’t really stop his shooting. He’s unguardable in 2K.

What are your go-to games?

I only play NBA 2K24 right now … I’m grinding on 2K. I’ve got 9 or 10 players I’ve created, and I’m still going to try and make another player.

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What about back in the day?

Back in the day I used to play Fortnite, Call of Duty, Rocket League, Minecraft. I used to play it all.

When you’re playing multiplayer games, do you go in there and chirp other people?

Sometimes you have to go undercover, turn your mic on and talk crazy to some people. It’s part of the game. It makes the game fun.

How competitive are you when you’re playing NBA 2K?

Very. Because I play basketball, I know how the game should be played. So I’ll be talking to my friends and we’ll be playing defence, and I’ll be trying to make us rotate and make stuff happen to try and win. So I’m competitive. If I’m playing (Call of Duty), I might not be as competitive. I’m alright at COD, not the best, so I can’t be giving people tips when I’m playing COD. But in 2K, I’m like that. I’m giving out tips, I’m trying to get rotations down and I’m trying to win. It gets real with 2K.

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Scottie Barnes of the Toronto Raptors leaps over Zach LaVine (8) of the Chicago Bulls during the first half at the United Cente.
Scottie Barnes of the Toronto Raptors leaps over Zach LaVine of the Chicago Bulls during the first half at the United Center on Oct. 17, 2023 in Chicago. Photo by Michael Reaves /Getty Images

Who’s the best gamer on the Raptors?

I’m going to say myself … I don’t think they can handle me in 2K. I think I’m probably better at COD too. There might be someone better, but I think I’m the best all-around gamer. If we were including a variety of games, I’m up there on that list.

There’s a lot of games coming out this year. What else are you excited to play?

Spider-Man 2 is out. A new COD (Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3) is coming out. Everyone’s going to be playing those and I can’t be just playing the same games.

Let’s flip it over to game-day style. Who’s the best-dressed Raptor?

I would have to say it’s between me, Precious (Achiuwa) and Gary (Trent Jr.). I’m a humble person, so I’m not going to say myself. So I’ll say Gary or Precious. Those two have styles I like.

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I like your off-court style. How long does it take you to put together your game-day outfit?

I think I have some style. This summer, I really got into looking at clothes and buying clothes and figuring out what I like. I already started (before opening night) looking through my closet and picking out my outfits to see what looks good. So I’ll say it takes a good 20 minutes. You got to pick out the shoes, find a shirt that goes with the pants you want to wear. Then sometimes you put it on and see it doesn’t look as good as (you thought). So now you got to switch it up. You have to change it up all over again.

Barnes
A dapper-looking Scottie Barnes arrives for the Raptors’ opening night at Scotiabank Arena. Photo by Toronto Raptors /Instagram

What does a day off in Toronto look like for you?

Just home with my dog, taking her to the dog park. Other than that, I’m playing video games, watching videos on my PC … I might go in and shoot … It’s a simple day, really. As peaceful as possible.

What are you most excited for heading into the new season?

I’m just excited to just go out there and win basketball games. That’s what’s going to make me happy. And going through that process as a team. We’re just going to try and get better each and every day. Go out there and grind and win basketball games.

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