Chiquita Evans became the first woman to be drafted into the NBA 2K League on Tuesday night when Warriors Gaming selected her in the fourth round.
Evans was one of two women in the 198-player pool in the draft. The NBA has tried to make diversity a point of emphasis for the 2K League, but there have been challenges along the way. According to ESPN, a study of games showed that men refused to pass to teammates they learned were women during games, something Evans said she experienced herself while playing.
“I had a lot of people when I talk on the mic, because when I play I like to communicate with my teammates. So I get on the mic and I’m like ‘I’m open! I’m open! I’m open!’ and they go ‘It’s a girl?!’ and I get iced out the whole game.”
This wasn’t resigned to random online play either. Evans said she experienced players at the 2018 2K League combine who refused to pass to her because of her gender, and the experience caused her to leave the combine. However, after a year of work, Evans decided to take another run at the league after women came to her saying she was an inspiration.
“Women have actually come to me and told me I was an inspiration, and so it wouldn’t be right for me to give up, because they believe in me.”
"For the first time ever I gave up something ... people are saying I don't deserve to be here" - @chiquitae126— NBA2KLeague (@NBA2KLeague) March 2, 2019
See how @chiquitae126 turned her doubters into believers in this 2019 #NBA2KLeague Draft Hopefuls profile ⤵️ pic.twitter.com/v1NYVOBcFd
NBA 2K became an outlet for Evans. A basketball player in college and on semi-pro teams in Chicago, her days on the court were cut short by injury — but the NBA 2K games gave her an outlet to keep completing in the sport she loves. Now she’s on the Warriors’ esports team the work continues to keep breaking barriers, but for now she’s got another goal.
“I’m going to see if I can do a real-life shooting competition with (Stephen) Curry,’’ Evans said. “That’s what I was known for. See if I can shoot with the best.”