Ronnie 2K is the not-so-secret all-star of the popular NBA video game—and its lightning rod


By KC Ifeanyi

Ronnie Singh has been called “the most hated man in gaming.” But to him, it’s all part of the job—as well as explaining what his job actually is.


On paper, Singh is the head of lifestyle and content marketing for the video game company 2K. But he’s better known as “Ronnie 2K,” the face of the brand, specifically for its basketball series NBA 2K.

Singh went from just one of the franchise’s nearly 2 million avid players to becoming 2K’s persona tasked with growing its presence online and within culture. However, being an in-house spokesperson for a brand can also mean being a lightning rod for complaints. Glitches, server issues, unpopular features, and even player rankings all somehow fall on Singh’s head even thought it’s far out of his control. Or fans still think of Singh as 2K’s forum and community manager that now spends too much time hobnobbing with celebrities and athletes. But, having worked at 2K for 15 years, that’s exactly what his job has evolved into: facilitating and maintaining those high-profile connections.

“I think it’s ‘most hated,’ but also the most loved [man in gaming]. It’s really strange,” Singh says. “Did we ever intend for that to happen? Did I ever want that kind of exposure to the world? No. But it’s been essential to crafting these relationships. I feel like it’d be tougher for the athletes, the celebrities, and the community that play our game to really connect with a brand without a persona involved.”


Any brand wants to forge a connection with its audience. While celebrity and influencer endorsements still carry weight, more companies—and even VC firms—have leaned into the idea of an in-house ambassador to be their bridge to a community, especially on social media. To Melissa Bell, 2K’s global chief marketing officer, having someone like Singh relay information from the company to the game’s fans instead of a brand account has made all the difference, even if it means that Singh will sometimes find himself in the crosshairs of the community he’s trying to foster.

“He was brave,” Bell says of Singh taking on his role. “By putting yourself out there, you’re putting yourself out there for bullets.”

Hoop dreams

Singh has always been obsessed with sports. Growing up in the Bay Area, he was a huge fan of the San Francisco 49ers and Giants but, ironically enough, not the Warriors.


“The Warriors were terrible at the time,” he notes.

Singh initially wanted to parlay that passion into becoming a sports agent. He studied management science and minored in law at University of California San Diego. After graduating in 2004, he took a job at a law firm while simultaneously working a side gig doing marketing and PR for the now defunct women’s basketball team, the San Diego Siege.

“I was making good money at the law firm but hated it,” he says. “Then I was making no money and loved the women’s basketball team. I decided I had to pause on the law thing.”


Singh went on to do more marketing work for the independent baseball team the San Diego Surf Dawgs before finally landing at 2K, making that “pause” from law indefinite. As a 2K gamer, Singh was frequently on the game’s leaderboards and just as present in its message boards. The team at 2K took notice and reached out to interview Singh for a job running its forum. It was an ideal position, but one Singh knew had limitations.

“It became very apparent that we were gonna need to figure out a way to talk to a bigger, massive audience,” Singh says. “The more casual basketball fan, the more casual cultural fan—so that’s where our social media strategies came in.”

A social media star is born

As Singh was developing 2K’s presence on social, his big break as an in-house influencer came in 2010 during a launch party for NBA 2K11. There was a particular buzz around that year’s title, which featured Michael Jordan on the cover. So athletes and celebrities, including Russell Westbrook, Andre Iguodala, Common, and Lloyd Banks, were breezing through the party, and Singh’s bosses asked him to interview whoever he could for content. Singh’s ascension through the 2K team ran in tandem with 2K’s push to be more than just a game developer.


Instead of pouring ad dollars into building hype around the latest iteration of the franchise, there’s been a concerted effort to have a 365-presence among fans by way of establishing the brand within the larger culture around basketball. Over the years, 2K introduced apparel drops to swag out players’ in-game characters, music releases from popular rap artists, and even opportunities for aspiring musicians to submit their own work to be featured on 2K’s soundtracks.

All of which Singh helps with on the licensing end through his relationship with brands and through giving feedback on which shoes, clothes, and music are bubbling up. It’s that attention to the culture that Singh sees as his biggest impact at 2K.

“We’re more than a basketball game,” Singh says. “A brand can do that, but I think having somebody to represent that brand and put it in the nomenclature of kids and celebs has allowed us to live in that space [of popular culture].”


But how does Singh reconcile the ire he draws from the very community he’s embedded in?

Peeved or passionate?

Singh obviously isn’t responsible for every hiccup that happens at 2K. When Golden State Warrior shooting guard Klay Thompson called Singh a “clown” on Instagram last year, it was no secret that it was tied to Thompson’s ranking within the game. (Thompson later apologized to Singh.)

But Singh’s own actions, whether trolling or not, have turned some 2K fans against him. When the company announced NBA 2K17, Singh made a few outlandish claims about what players could expect, including the ability to play underwater. Judging by his delivery and former NBA 2KTV host Rachel DeMita’s reactions, it was pretty clear that he was joking. Yet some fans took his word as gospel. In the run-up to the launch of NBA 2K20, Singh announced that players could rebuild their personalized characters from the previous 2K installment, saving hassle and, more importantly, money from in-game purchases. But when the game launched, that wasn’t the case.


Of course, these are small infractions. But it’s not hard to find a Reddit thread or YouTube video of people railing against Singh. That said, for Singh, the very idea that fans would post negative videos or comments about him—or even that a five-time NBA All-Star would call him a clown to his 14 million followers—only signals passion.

“I love any of these comments, even if they are polarizing. This is the most passionate fan base,” Singh says. “That’s really empowered all of us, our development team, our marketing team, to go out there and put our best foot forward, because they expect so much and we want to give them so much because they’re so passionate.”

Dustups with fans and all, Singh has become a key facet of 2K and will have a strong hand in how the brand continues to evolve.


“We want to be at the forefront of cultural change,” says CMO Bell. “Ronnie is critical for us to be not only maintaining our credibility but being part of the team to be plotting the path of what’s next—not only for NBA 2K, but the other titles.”

Stepping in front of a brand will always make you the first target in an attack. But Singh has had 15 years to develop his credibility—and his armor.

“People can say whatever they want, but you’ll never see anybody in those comments say that I don’t love basketball or I don’t work hard,” Singh says. “I don’t think that if you’re working for a brand that you love so much, that you have just devoted your entire life to, that you can possibly get bad feedback.”

Fast Company