Although the Atlanta Hawks are hoping to earn an NBA title in basketball as it looks toward this season's opener Oct. 24 in Detroit, its Hawks Talon Gaming Club esports squad already has one victory under its belt as it prepares for its 2020 slate.

Its gaming club, the NBA's 2K League affiliate of the Hawks, and the Northside Hospital Sports Medicine Network will begin a new partnership as the franchise’s official sports medicine provider, according to a news release on the agreement.

With the focus of providing excellent healthcare to the next generation of Atlantans, Northside will have their logo added to the left and right sleeves of the team’s jerseys, the release stated.

The NBA 2K League, a joint venture between the NBA and Take-Two Interactive, is a 21-team professional esports group featuring the best NBA 2K players in the world.

According to the release, the global audience for esports will total 453.8 million viewers worldwide this year, including 201.2 million esports enthusiasts and 252.6 million occasional viewers.

In the release, Hawks Talon team manager and head coach Wesley Acuff said his squad is excited to team up with Northside Hospital, "as their commitment to the next generation of Atlantans is unmatched in our community."

“It is paramount for us to have a partner focused on our players’ health and wellness as we strive for each member of Hawks Talon to consistently perform at their best," he said.

The partnership with one of Georgia’s largest and most respected healthcare delivery systems will give Northside Hospital brand exposure as its logo will be placed on all baseline and courtside LED signs adjacent to the court as well as fixed brand exposure on the side lower basket pads of each basket stanchion during all Hawks Talon home games, a release stated.

In addition, throughout the season, Hawks Talon will also make visits to the Elite Performance Therapy facility at the Terminus complex in Buckhead. These visits will provide the team an opportunity to learn about ways that they can optimize their performance, the release stated.

“The partnership was great for us,” said team member Connor Rodrigues, also known as Dat Boy Shotz. “Northside Hospital was a nice addition to our weekly schedule. They really care about us and our well-being. It is very nice to have that as a part of an esports team.”

In the release, Dr. Vonda Wright, orthopedic surgeon and chief of the Northside Hospital Sports Medicine Network, said, “Collaborating with elite esports teams, such as the Hawks Talon GC, to maximize player performance while minimizing injury, is an innovative way to apply our sports medicine and performance expertise in the care of athletes on the new frontier of sports. We are honored that Hawks Talon have entrusted our experts with the care of their athletes.”

The team completed its 2019 season in July and will start its next season in April. It is based at Atlantic Station but plays its matches in New York.

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