Devin Gossett thought he had it.
Sitting in his home in Orlando, Florida, Gossett logged on and talked with his teammates, a near daily occurrence for the high-ranked NBA 2K player. But March 9, 2018 was special. After five years of competing both online and in-person in the still developing 2K scene, this was the day Gossett would find out if this could be his living. He was ecstatic.
On the other end of the call, his amateur team colleagues Mitchell "Mootyy" Franklin and Kristopher "iiNsaniTTy" Dellarciprete waited patiently as well. Each awaited a call from NBA 2K League managing director Brendan Donohue. He would alert players who would be selected out of thousands to be among the first 102 people to compete in the inaugural season of the NBA 2K League later that summer.
First Mootty got the call, then iiNsaniTTy. 5 p.m. rolled by. Then 6. Then 7. By 10, Gossett's phone hadn't rang but it did buzz with a text message. It wasn't Donohue -- it was Artreyo "Dimez" Boyd, a longtime rival of Gossett and the hottest player entering the 2018 NBA 2K League draft.
"Yo, Dev, did you get that call yet?" Dimez texted.
"Nah. Did you?" Gossett responded.
"Yeah, I got it way earlier." Dimez replied.
Within the next half hour, Gossett's suspicions were confirmed. The NBA tweeted that all 102 players had been notified of their draft eligibility. He wasn't one of them.
In the year leading up to that day, Gossett, known as "DevGoss" in game, had checked all the boxes. His team with Mootyy and iiNsaniTTy finished third at the NBA 2K 2017 All-Star Tournament in New Orleans the year before. And just before the league launched, as thousands of players competed in the Pro-Am online to make the first 250 player pre-draft selection pool, Gossett shined as one of the best. Why didn't the league want him?
That's unclear, but ahead of the narrowing of the pool, the league conducted background checks into the players among the 250, including Gossett. Could it be the severe car accident in which he was hit head-on by a drunk driver, just three months before the draft? It's something he hadn't talked about much, privately or publicly.
For Gossett, now 23, he speculates that it was his social media, particularly Twitter, that revealed the unfiltered, unabridged emotion of his teenage self (he had two accounts, one which he had used since he was 13).
"It was definitely one of the worst times," Gossett told ESPN. "I knew it was my own fault that I didn't get in. There was stuff saying where people were saying, 'Delete your tweets, make sure you clean up your social media prior.' This was a year ago, but I've grown up so much over the year. I was being hard headed [then] and I thought, 'Oh, I'm a lock. I don't have to clean up my social media.' Look, it came back to [bite me]."
For most, it would've been a low -- a hit to the motivation to continue in NBA 2K. But for Gossett, it was the opposite.
On Tuesday, Gossett will join 197 other NBA 2K players from the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, China, France and more. The second annual, 2019 NBA 2K League draft in New York will allow 74 of the 197 players to get their shot to compete in the 2019 NBA 2K League season starting in April. This year, Gossett is expected to be one of the highest selected.
Of the teams with top 10 picks on Tuesday, affiliate teams of the Golden State Warriors, Detroit Pistons, Memphis Grizzlies and his hometown Orlando Magic sit without point guards, Gossett's in-game position.
If he falls to No. 9, he might find himself with the Magic. Despite missing out as a player in 2018, Gossett was contacted by Ryan DeVos, nephew of the Magic's chairman Dan DeVos. DeVos wanted Gossett to coach the team prior to the start of the season, but rumors had led Gossett to believe that joining a team midseason was possible.
"Me, being hard-headed and stubborn, looked at it as, 'You guys don't think I'll get a call to get into the league eventually during the season?'" Gossett said. "I thought I was going to make the player pool still. Everyone told me, 'Just take the job, take the job.' I wanted to be a player. That's all I could do."
In June, though, that changed. Magic Gaming lost to 76ers Gaming Club 87-47 and Gossett, sitting back home in Orlando, was bummed for his hometown team.
A few hours later, his phone lit up. Chris Toussaint, the manager of Magic Gaming, was on the other line. The Magic wanted Gossett as a coach again.
After considering, Gossett said yes, and the following week, while awaiting a background check, he prepared his players for Kings Guard Gaming and then Jazz Gaming. The Magic won, and Gossett, he says, was "head over heels."
In his first weeks in New York in July, the Magic's luck wasn't the same. They lost in the first round of the NBA 2K League's The Ticket tournament on July 12, and while Gossett said he felt it was a setback, a run to the playoffs wasn't impossible. The following weeks, the Magic won eight and lost six, but fell one spot short of a playoff berth. For many, Gossett helped turn the team around; a team that looked hopeless before his arrival.
He'll now look to do the same as he heads back to New York for Tuesday's draft, but this time as a player.
"I'm going into Season 2 completely different," Gossett said. "I don't have this ego now, where I am the voice or the best guy on the team. I'm going in now that this league is more than just being the MVP or a star player. It's actually winning. ... I don't hold anything from Season 1 into Season 2. I'm going in a completely different dude, and I just want to win at the end of the day."