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Rob Dillingham and Aaron Bradshaw face off in charity Esports event

Samuel Colmar
Rob Dillingham smiles while being handed the check after winning the charity matches after the Rob Dillingham vs. Aaron Bradshaw NBA 2K Charity Match on Thursday, Feb. 29, 2024, at the UKFCU eSports Lounge in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Samuel Colmar | Staff

While they’re teammates on the hardwood, for one night in The Cornerstone, Kentucky basketball players Rob Dillingham and Aaron Bradshaw were opponents on the digital court.

The pair faced off in NBA 2K on Thursday night at the UK Esports Lounge with the winner of a best-of-three matchup donating $2,500 to the charity of their choice.

The event began with Bradshaw selecting the Golden State Warriors and Dillingham selecting the Dallas Mavericks and Dillingham would pull out to an early lead before some technical difficulties struck.

The PlayStation 5 that was being used failed and had to be swapped out for another PlayStation, but the difficulties wouldn’t end there as the second console didn’t have NBA 2K installed and had to be swapped for an Xbox Series X.

With the initial game being deemed a warm up, the competition began in earnest and both players would shake things up and change teams as Bradshaw would pick the Los Angeles Lakers and Dillingham picked the Phoenix Suns.

The first game was a comfortable win for Dillingham off the back of Kentucky legend Devin Booker’s scoring and, with game two looming, Bradshaw decided to change his strategy and pick the Denver Nuggets.

“(Nikola) Jokic is one of my favorite players and, as you can tell, I can get a bucket whenever I want,” Bradshaw said regarding the decision.

The strategy seemed to be more effective as the second game was much closer, but eventually Dillingham would pull ahead and win game two.

With his victory in the head-to-head matchup, Dillingham donated his winnings to the Autism Society of the Bluegrass, a charity dedicated to improving the lives of all those affected by autism through education and support.

“You don’t want to just make money for yourself,” Dillingham said. “You would rather give back and help, so anytime I can help I try.”

Despite the loss, Bradshaw did not lose sight of the importance of charity and his platform at Kentucky.

“That’s the main reason I wanted to do it,” he said. “Anything involving kids and making a community at least a bit better.”

A sense of community could be felt as dozens of spectators watched the event unfold and, during the final match a young fan in the crowd began to chant Bradshaw’s name anytime he scored in the game.

“It really warms my heart,” Bradshaw said.

With both players coming together and “gaming for good,” they’ll return to the hardwood on Saturday, March 2, as teammates to face off against Arkansas as the SEC Tournament draws near.

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Samuel Colmar, Assistant Photo Editor

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