MANHATTAN (KSNT) – Jerome Tang and K-State men’s basketball took the college hoops world by storm with a trip to the Elite 8 after being picked to finish last in the Big 12.
The excitement came in Tang’s first season with the ‘Cats, bringing new energy to the program after a couple of rough seasons. The Wildcats’ brand grew with Tang’s postgame dances in the student section, the pregame locker room dances to Lil Baby and coach’s postgame speech to the team that ended K-State’s season.
Now, that brand is reaching new heights as year two of the Tang era looms for K-State. K-State’s long-standing tradition, the Wabash Cannonball, is included in the new NBA 2K24 video game.
“I feel like [this program] deserved it,” NBA 2K developer Tim Parham told 27 News.
The story of how K-State’s dance ended up in one of the world’s top selling video games dates back decades.
Parham and K-State men’s basketball assistant coach Jareem Dowling were college teammates at Maryland-Eastern Shore in 2003. Their bond hasn’t faded in the 20 years since.
“You’ve heard blue blood, new blood, K-State is real blood,” Dowling said. “Tim doesn’t [include us in this game] if we don’t have real love.”
The idea to get in the world’s premiere basketball video did not come from within K-State’s program. Parham took note of the energy surrounding Tang and his program in just year one in Manhattan, and he reached out to Dowling about this possibility.
Dowling, who joined K-Nation for an exclusive interview during the 2023 NCAA tournament, says this is a testament to Jerome Tang simply “being who he is.”
Parham couldn’t confirm whether or not college team’s traditions have been included in the NBA video game prior to this addition but he said, “It’s rare.”
“It was organic,” Parham said about how the dance came to be included in this year’s game.
The ’emote’ isn’t directly attributed to K-State in the game. It’s called ‘Runner,’ but a source told 27 News the Wabash Cannonball and Tang’s postgame student section celebrations, served as direct inspiration.
The dance, which originated in 1968, isn’t available immediately when downloading the game. Players have to unlock the move through other in-game accomplishments.
“Millions of people all around the world are going to see this,” Parham said.
Adding a university tradition like this to a video game of this caliber can have an outstanding impact, Dowling said.
“It definitely impacts the growing of the program,” he said.
Click here to learn more about the history of K-State’s Wabash Cannonball.