The public did not know if it would ever happen, but it finally has. Rick Fox has returned to gaming. The former three-time NBA champion has reentered the gaming landscape with his new gaming studio, HiDef Inc. The shackles of creative oppression have finally been broken. The studio will be looking to produce video games that allow gamers to creatively express themselves.

The gaming industry has been on a massive upswing and shows no immediate signs of slowing down. In the midst of a global pandemic, players have found solace within the gaming industry. Major big-name titles, such as Cyberpunk 2077 and Animal Crossing: New Horizons, have kept gamers actively engaged. It is no wonder that Rick Fox has continued to involve himself in the gaming industry.

Rick Fox was originally known for his era of dominance on the Los Angeles Lakers. The basketball veteran would eventually become a notable figure within the eSports community. Rick Fox, along with Shaquille O’Neal and other notable figures, would prop up and bring a new layer of legitimacy to the North American League of Legends Championship Series.

Inkling in eSports

In November of 2015, NBA TV invited Gordon Hayward on air for a little sports discussion. Hayward, the former Boston Celtic, has notably been a figure in traditional sports that has also been a spokesperson for eSports. This interview was one of the first times that such notable NBA representatives had taken a positive stance on eSports as a whole. Gordon Hayward is an avid gamer.
The discussion was surprising for one particular reason. Toward the end of the segment, Fox posed a serious eSports question to Hayward. “What are your thoughts on Doublelift leaving CLG for TSM?” Gamers across the world ran rampant on Twitter — tweeting about the exchange. For the first time, possibly ever, eSports felt like it had overcome a major hurdle. Competitive gaming was no longer just an activity for “nerds” but rather, it had gained some real traction and legitimacy.

Echo Fox

Rick Fox made his gaming debut on the League of Legends competitive scene. At the time, League of Legends had already been established as one of the highest-grossing competitive games on the market. In 2015, Rick Fox helped establish Echo Fox. The organization, originally Gravity Gaming, was purchased for approximately one million dollars by the former NBA star. 

The Echo Fox roster never found any major success — never winning an LCS title. But League of Legends was simply the point of entry. Eventually, Echo Fox would expand their organization into other titles such as Call of Duty, Super Smash Bros., and Counter-Strike. Rick Fox would work diligently alongside his partners to ensure that Echo Fox would become a flourishing organization.

During the infancy of the organization, it would piece together a roster for the North American LCS Academy. The roster, while not very good, was composed of numerous League of Legends personalities and retired streamers. Dyrus, scarra, Voyboy, Shiphtur, and imaqtpie (streamer of the year in 2016) would help the organization gain some much-needed momentum. Delta Fox would be dubbed the “Meme Team.” The team was filled with infinite potential, but it fell flat. Fortunately, these popular streamers aided in bringing additional viewership to the Echo Fox organization, and that was a win in itself.

Hello, Goodbye.

Echo Fox grew into its own entity. The organization spent so much time, effort, and money into propping itself up to be a serious eSports organization. Rick Fox was a welcomed and needed presence in the League of Legends community. The interviews that he would participate in would detail his poise and tact. He was a positive influence throughout the gaming community. Gamers would tune in onto Twitch and watch as the NBA legend climbed his way up the competitive ladder and out of the depths of Iron IV.

Nothing lasts forever. In the midst of 2019, Echo Fox would crumble into nothingness. Rick Fox alleged that his business partner, Amit Raizada, had threatened his family and made several racist comments towards him. Following the allegation, Riot Games launched an investigation into the organization. Tensions were high between Fox and Raizada — so high that there was even a defamation lawsuit filed by Raizada.

In the end, Riot Games made its decision. They forced Echo Fox to take action and remove any individual that violated the League rules and agreement. Rick Fox sold his Echo Fox shares and countered sued Raizada. The whole ordeal resulted in the organization dissolving and releasing any remaining players on the LCS team.

The Fox Returns

The man could not stay away. Rick Fox has become a part of gaming, and it is good to see him continue his role as a public figure for media gaming and entertainment. The HiDef team is a collection of veterans in the gaming industry. Anthony Castoro, known for his work amongst EA, Protagonist Games, and Codemasters, is spearheading the studio alongside Fox. The pair are joined by Jace Hall — a former Echo Fox associate. And finally, Dr. David Washington, who is a social impact expert.

The studio has announced its funding that will help the studio in its pursuit of building a game that will be an active part of people’s everyday lives. The team has already generated $9 million. “We’re looking beyond that horizon to create experiences where those types of intersections are contextual and natural,” Castoro said in an interview with GameDaily. The details haven’t been fully released, but the company aims to create a gaming product with no boundaries. Whether a gamer is seven years old, or fifty years old, they want to create a memorable experience. The project is very ambitious — it will be interesting to see how everything continues to develop. But ultimately, it is great to see that Rick Fox has returned to gaming.