Michael Key aka BearDaBEAST23 is the Point Guard for the # 1 Ranked team on Xbox (at the time I started this article), ISLAND GANG. Bear is known as one of the biggest snubs of the NBA 2K League’s inaugural season. A top Point Guard in 2K18 that is still making waves in 2K 19. Bear’s team of super role-players, Planet Rondo, SlayIsland9xx, iiTzChas, and the NBA 2K League’s Finals MVP NateKahl, is running through the competition. Planet Rondo’s big screens and boarding ability makes him one of the top Centers in this year’s Draft Class. SlayIsland’s basketball IQ, on-court coaching and sharpshooting ability make him a lock for the league this year. iiTzChas’ jig on the hash ability is top notch, and could make him league bound if he plays well in the combine. What is there to say about NateKahl that hasn’t been said already?
In 2K18, Bear was the Wiggle God. With little to no defense being played in 18, he was able to “Left Right” his way past defenders. Bear was one of the most efficient scoring “5 Out” Point Guards in the game. Teams went into the game saying that they were going to “Take Bear out of the game”, and let the others beat them. He would still drop 40, and do it efficiently on the double team. The stage was set for Bear to make it into the NBA 2K League Season 1, and put work in when he did. The League build appeared to be made for Bear. 5 out being the META towards the end, Bear on that Shot Creating Slasher build would have broken records.
I’m not gonna lie, when I saw that Bear didn’t make the league it made me feel better about my situation. I watched a ton of Island Gang games, and saw how insane Bear was at the game. He picked teams apart, and his scoring virtuoso’s appeared effortless. When I saw he didn’t get selected, I thought to myself, if he didn’t deserve it then I didn’t either. He put so much into the game, and you could see it in the box scores.
The Wiggle God is still alive and well In NBA 2K19. Prior to its release the “Left Right” was dead according to the 2K Developers. It’s not, but it’s not what it used to be. Bear says “They don’t let me Left Right like they used to”. Bear has never ever been a “Dribble God”. He uses a 6’5” Sharpshooting Playmaker with small arms (two notches above T-Rex according to him). Bear said he made his Myplayer with Defense in mind. Sacrificing his scoring for size and length, BearDaBEAST definitely did not want to be taken advantage of on the other end. Bear’s transition from “5 Out” to “PNR” earlier this year wasn’t the smoothest. He has made the adjustment and his PNR game is where it needs to be for 2K19.
BearDaBEAST makes reads very well in the PNR, and plays with great pace. Famous Enough Heat Check Gaming’s Manager Coach Tweeted about rushed shots in some WR Pro-am League games he had recently watched. NBA 2K League GM’s, if you are looking for a PG who can control the pace of a game, Bear is your PG. He is calm and collective when bull rushed by an opposing Lockdown Defender. He waits for his screen, and gets to his spot. He has a nice repertoire of dribble moves and seems to use the right one at the right time consistently. If you step off his shooters to help, he throws Dots.
Watching Key play with Island Gang vs watching him play pickups on his “The Bears” squad is night and day. The players on Island Gang are used to playing with a PG that can Dot them up, and are usually pulling up with the shot when they receive one. The Bears pickup squad players appear not ready at times. It’s probably because on their own respective teams they aren’t used to getting those early or on-time passes.
Bear has few weaknesses at the Point Guard position, none of which are killing his draft stock. He will get careless with the basketball and turn it over several times in a game. He is also inefficient at times with his jump shot. Missing uncontested shots is a part of 2K19, especially with a 6’5” Sharpshooting Playmaker without a minimum wingspan. I’d rather my teammate miss an uncontested shot, than miss a contested shot.
The impressive part about Island Gang, is they do not have a secondary ball handler. I’ve seen times where SlayIsland will bring it up but it’s usually on his Take Over. Without that exception, Island Gang leans heavily on Bear who is pressured by the opposing Lock for the entirety of the game. If you don’t play Point Guard, and have never had one of those scary alien looking Monstars with Maximum wingspan running at you swinging at the ball from 6 feet away, and knocking the ball lose then you don’t know how hard of a job Bear has. Not all Locks are created equal, however NBA 2K19 made it where a casual player can play Team Pro-am on a Lock and hold their own.
Bear’s skill in NBA 2K from last year has carried over into NBA 2K19 and has caught the attention of the whole entire community. He was the #1 Prospect in the NAPX Top 100 Prospect List. A highly debated list, however to my knowledge not many were debating if Bear deserved a top spot.
Some say Bear didn’t make the NBA 2K League last year because of his “Marketability”. Bear has set out to change how he is viewed within the community. Less Periscopes, and more winning is a sure-fire way to show a GM how much you want it. Bear spends his free time running with subs and Twitter Followers when he is not on the Island. He will post “Need 2” on his twitter to run on “The Bears” court. Just have shooting in your build, and hit him up to run.
I watched several Island Gang games and caught Bear in his streams on “The Bears” court. The game that stood out to me was Island Gang vs Space Jam. Demon JT, Ramo, and Hotshot all on the same team again is a scary sight. Charger and Meet the Bully were also on the floor for Space Jam. Space Jam started off the game up big, scoring in transition off of careless turnovers. Space Jam struggled to score in the half court, but Hotshot kept plays alive with offensive rebounds. Hotshot looked like an unstoppable force on the boards, as he pulled down rebound after rebound. Once Island Gang locked in, they never looked back.
Island Gang came up with big buckets scored off of great defensive stops. Rondo started to keep Hotshot off the boards, and SJ continued to struggle in the half court. The 3rd quarter ended with Island Gang up by 7 after being down 11 in the first. Bear drew Ramo on a Lockdown Defender the entire game. Ramo made him work for every bucket, and spelled him for much of the game. Bear never came off ball, and continued be the floor general throughout the game.
Midway through the 4th quarter, when the game appeared to be in hand, Island Gang was up 9, and BearDaBEAST was unleashed. Bear started yelling “Invite me back after the game”, and “We the Super Team”. Bear seems ready for that big stage, and the trash talking that comes with it. Bear ended with 10 points, 8 assists, 4 steals, and 4 turnovers, shooting 3/9 from the field, and 2/6 from 3.
In summary, Bear is a BEAST, and any team in the 2K League would improve by adding his skillset to the team. The teams that I believe would benefit the most from Bear’s talents are as follows;
Pacers Gaming – With the addition of Ramo, and the already dynamic duo of Swizurk and Wolf, they are already in a good position to make some noise this season. The addition of Bear will only make things easier on the offensive end. Wolf going back to a Pure Lock is only an assumption, but he will fill that NateKahl type role that Bear is used to. Swizurk on a Pure Sharpshooter, and Ramo on any PF build will make them an instant contender for a championship this season.
Kings Guard Gaming – Kings Guard experimented with several lineups during their season. Although Worthing Colt played well at PG at times, I want to see him back at the Center spot. TimelyCook moves to Pure Lock, and BearDaBEAST moves right into that Point Guard position. Again, keeping Bear comfortable with Island Gang like players, Colt can be his Rondo, as Timely can be his Nate.
There are several other NBA 2K League teams that are looking for a Point Guard. Grizz Gaming, Warriors Gaming, Cavs Legion GC, and Magic Gaming all look like they will be in search of one, maybe two ball handlers in this upcoming draft class. Any team will be lucky to land this top prospect to run their team.