Eyes on the Prize: Reigning MVP Kenny Got Work has his sights set on an NBA 2K League championship

TORONTO, Canada—“If I stay composed, and I do everything that I know that I can, we’re going to at least make the playoffs. I know that for a fact … I feel like we have a system in play, and if we stick to that, we’re going to the moon.”

This quote from Raptors Uprising GC’s Kenneth “Kenny Got Work” Hailey prior to the start of Season 3 serves as a reminder that his belief in himself never wavered, even when many of his fellow competitors around the league doubted the caliber of player he was after Season 2.

In the Glitchy25 rankings prior to Season 3, where NBA 2K League players voted on who they believed the best 25 players in the game were, Kenny Got Work came in at No. 23. Fast forward one record-breaking, history-making year later, Kenny Got Work now stands on top of the rankings at No. 1 heading into Season 4

Don’t poke the bear.

Despite a frustrating year in Season 2, and the subsequent doubt that followed from those around the league, Shane Talbot and Raptors Uprising always knew what they had in their star; it was just about finding a way to get the best out of their generational talent—a philosophy the team committed to in 2020.

By handing him the keys and shifting Kenny Got Work to his natural point guard position, surrounding him with the right pieces—like his partner in crime Timelycook—Talbot’s faith in the franchise’s first ever draft pick paid massive dividends in Season 3.

The accolades and results speak for themselves. Not only did Raptors Uprising become the first team to go undefeated in the regular season while winning two tournament banners along the way, Kenny Got Work also put forth the best individual season in league history as the focal point of the offence.

On top of becoming the first player in franchise history to win the NBA 2K League Most Valuable Player award, Kenny Got Work also became the first player in the league to earn two tournament MVPs, two Player of the Month awards, and four Player of the Week awards in the same season.

“I always knew I had the potential, I know what I’m capable of,” said Kenny Got Work. “I’ve got the right people around me and they believed in me, and they got me stops, and that’s why we went on that tear last season, so I’m not surprised.”

Now, the reigning MVP enters his fourth season in the league on the heels of last year’s impressive run with expectations higher than ever. But the hype around him and Raptors Uprising in 2021 doesn’t seem to faze the cool, calm, and collected 30-year-old pro, especially knowing that he’s surrounded by what he believes is an even better foundation to support his game this upcoming season.

Along with retaining Timelycook and ReeceMode, Raptors Uprising acquired one of the premier big men in the game in Type, a move that has Kenny Got Work eager with what could potentially be in store.

“It was kind of bittersweet because we went 16-0, we won two banners last season, it’s like how do you get better from that?” said Kenny Got Work on the Raptors Uprising offseason. “But when you get a guy like Type, he’s one of a kind in our league. He’s top-three, maybe the best big in the league.

“And now you got Kenny Got Work and Timelycook—the Defensive Player of the Year and MVP—with him, so sky’s the limit.”

On top of the acquisition of their new centre, Raptors Uprising re-acquired former Season 1 & 2 alumni All Hail Trey and TsJosh to surround their star playmaker with even more familiarity. All five players are guys that Kenny Got Work has known for years and has a close relationship with, and it’s that sort of unspoken bond that’s instilling an enormous amount of confidence in the Raptors Uprising leader.

“We have more chemistry off the court,” said Kenny Got Work. “We obviously have to get those reps and those scrimmages in to develop that on-court chemistry, but it is fair to say that we have (even more chemistry than last year).”

As for what he expects Raptors Uprising’s identity will be in 2021? From that perspective, not much has changed. Fans can still expect the same old Kenny coupled with an ever better supporting cast behind him.

“We’re going to be a team that’s going to get after you on defence, that’s what we hang our hats on, like always,” added Kenny Got Work. “We’re going to be that same defensive team—if not better.”

With everyone once again buying into the philosophy that this is Kenny Got Work’s team, the reigning MVP understands that the buck once again stops with him. His game-changing talent is no secret anymore and you can bet teams will come with a gameplan to try and slow down the Raptors Uprising star.

Which is why this past offseason, the NBA 2K League veteran has been working tirelessly to ensure his game keeps on improving and he doesn’t take his foot off the gas pedal in Season 4. In fact, Kenny Got Work once again found himself completely immersed in the game this past offseason, putting in over 300 hours of time spent on NBA 2K21, honing in and perfecting his craft.

“… I played the game to stay on top of my game because after you win the MVP you don’t want to be complacent,” said Kenny Got Work.

Another reason you’ll always find the Memphis native in the lab is because there’s still an ultimate prize that evades the fourth-year pro. This season, it’s not about accolades. It’s not about Player of the Week or Player of the Month awards. It’s not even about winning the MVP anymore.

For Kenny Got Work, he has his sights set on one thing—and one thing only: bringing a championship back to the city he considers to be his second home.

“Winning the championship is my personal goal,” said Kenny Got Work. “It’ll mean everything—that’s why I’m here.”

The start of the 2021 NBA 2K League campaign is right around the corner with Raptors Uprising looking to defend their banner at THE TIPOFF Tournament, which kicks off May 19. Keep it locked to @RaptorsGC on Twitter for further updates on the 2021 season.