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Smooth Operator: Devin Booker’s Call of Duty Collab is a Dream Come True

The Phoenix Suns shooting guard — and his dog Haven — have entered Warzone. Boardroom caught up with Book and COD executives to learn the business behind it.

Devin Booker is the newest playable character in Call of Duty.

Teased in April and arriving today, the Activision appointment follows in the footsteps of Kevin Durant entering the arena in 2023. It also comes on the heels of Booker starring in COD’s 20th-anniversary campaign this past October.

Perhaps more importantly, it comes after years of the All-Star shooting guard being a legend in two games — pro hoops and Warzone — simultaneously.

“Book is elite,” Durant said of his teammate’s Call of Duty skills on Aux Money. “Elite.”

A process years in the making, Devin’s debut as a playable character in Call of Duty comes after nine seasons of NBA accolades all while holding his own against gamers of both the infamous and anonymous variety.

“It honestly started as just a dream,” Booker told Boardroom. “My rookie year when they made me scan in for 2K? I immediately thought, ‘Man, I wish I could put this shit in Call of Duty.'”

Decked out in his signature style and bringing his dog Haven along for the ride, Boardroom caught up with Book and the Activision team to hear how this cross-category collaboration came to be.

Swimming with the Sharks

To be the best in any field, you have to be an animal in every field.

Case in point? Michael Jordan golfs with Tiger. Alex Rodriguez plays poker with whales.

In this era, such an edge is epitomized by Book going beast mode in Call of Duty against Faze Clan.

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Like elite athletes of generations prior, Booker’s competitive streak runs far beyond the lines of the court.

Just as the country club, card table, or car lot brought the edge out of All-Stars looking to rumble with the best in other arenas, Book seeks the premium pick-up bump in Warzone when it comes to competing with all-world gamers.

“Book gets like 16 [kills], he averages at least 12 a game in Resurgence,” Durant said. “Book runs with the real pros.”

For Book, being competitive is a lifestyle. While working on his All-NBA craft on the court, his COD credibility continually climbed to the same status.

“I’ve been a fan for so long,” said Booker. “When competitive gaming first started, it was Optic, Nadeshot, and Scump. I always tell them I was fans of them before I was in the NBA and they even knew who I was!”

Before long, the fanfare became mutual.

“Once I had reach through social media, Matt Nisha is probably where my relationships first started,” said Booker. “Just playing games with him? I met so many other professional gamers that I was already aware of.”

Soon, that awareness spread from the e-sports stars to video game execs.

Inside the offices at Activision, the Suns shooting guard became lauded for his ability to attack A-list gamers in the same fashion he attacks All-NBA defenders and anyone in the arena looking to jaw.

“They expected me to play at an athlete level at first,” Booker said. “But when I show them I’m a little better than that? They get hype.”

“I won’t pick favorites,” Michelle Bresaw, Vice President of Product Management and Marketing for Activision, told Boardroom. “But let’s just say I wouldn’t get mad if he was on my squad dropping into Warzone.”

Online and in person, the hype was indeed real. The aggressive streak that runs through Book’s blood extends even to video games, proving that even recreational activities are not for play-play.

So much so that Booker isn’t just a Pro-Am standout in Call of Duty circles, but an actual player in every sense of the term.

Licensed to Kill

On the court, Devin Booker channels the assassin spirit of Kobe Bryant.

Razor-sharp footwork, dart-like accuracy, and the ability to weaponize his shoulders and elbows allow Booker to carve up defenses with similar striking power to that of the late, great Black Mamba.

Famously, Kobe’s competitive advantage was not only his maniacal attention to detail and sweat equity but also an emphasis on mental warfare. For the latter, Booker calls on COD, as do his teammates.

(Christian Petersen / Getty Images)

“It puts me in the right headspace,” said Booker. “Kevin plays a lot, Brad [Beal] plays a lot, we’ve got a solid team on the court and off the court. We spend a lot of time playing the game.”

In their introduction as teammates, Kevin and Devin connected on the court through competition and off the court in quieter quarters through Call of Duty.

When the veteran sniper arrived in The Valley, Durant was full of free game but tight-lipped regarding his operator arriving in Warzone. Once the announcement of Durant joining the COD universe became public, Booker privately inquired just how he could make the same leap.

“We had the conversation,” said Booker. “‘Bro, how did you do that? How did you get in?'”

(Sam Hodde / Getty Images)

Quickly the exchange between Book and KD became a dialogue between Book and Activision. Having formally formed a relationship with the brand back in 2015, familiarity with Booker around the office and inside gaming circles gave it the green light.

But what would he wear?

“When they gave me the okay to do it, it was all about going in and putting in my own creative design,” said Booker. “I was talking with the homies and our first thought was it has to be all black. That’s for unspoken reasons, people know why you want a black operator.”

A man of authenticity and aesthetics, Booker balanced performance perks and streamlined style in COD no different than he does on the court or in the tunnel.

“Uniform dressing,” Booker said. “It’s the same thing repeated, just different colors and vibes depending on the different environments. It’s just a flow.”

Rather than choose a backward hat, baggy khakis, and an oversized overcoat, the sharpshooter twice over doubled down on a stealth silo that was strictly business.

“I wanted his hitbox as small as possible,” said Booker. “How thin can I make him? So I automatically thought of a tailored suit.”

Matched with his signature shootaround beanie, it’s a stark contrast to the field gear donned in-game by KD and Snoop Dogg or the stage styling of Nicki Minaj.

More importantly? The outfit isn’t even the best part.

“Haven is all through the game,” Booker said of his personal pet dog, who’s also entering the COD universe. “He’s part of the finishing move.”

Like all elements of the Book brand, the decision was both personal and informed by research and reference.

“I drew the idea from them having a German Shepard in one of the past seasons,” said Booker. “I said, ‘I’ve gotta get Haven in there.’ And more importantly, having him in the loading screen. Before you get in game? He’s with you. Throughout the game, he’s on my back, like a backpack or a satchel. He’s the charm off the gun also.”

Starting May 3rd, both Book and Haven will be playable for the world at large.

It’s a big moment for the partnership that’s been years in the making with hopefully much more to come.

The Bigger Big Map

Devin Booker is a true one-of-one where hoops and gaming are concerned.

True to his title, he operates in various worlds regarding the grind and the shine, the mud and the mix. He’s just as easily seen entering an arena with Drake as he is spending endless hours in a high school gym alone.

His particular presentation shows in products and partnerships. He’s able to go Goldeneye with his Activision ensemble, all while having the most niche Nikes on the market.

Because of his eye for detail, Book breaks through as a partner more interested in substance than sauce.

“Devin has been involved throughout the entire process of creating his Tracer Pack,” said Bresaw. “We went through lots of creative ideation on the concept, look, and feel in collaboration with Devin.”

It all aligns with a big year in which many of Book’s singular stylistic choices become mass. In practice and product, the Booker brand is one built on authenticity and individuality. One where intensity and calm cool mesh at all moments.

One in which millions of gamers who’ve never watched a Suns highlight will soon come in contact.

“That’s the beauty,” said Booker. “The video game reaches masses. People will learn about who D Book and Haven are for the first time. Anyways that I can storytell in an authentic way? Call of Duty is the perfect way to do that.”

Thus far, that storytelling has already taken shape via word of mouth. While KD kept his Tracer Pack on the hush, Book knew not to post but couldn’t keep quiet with his homies.

“I told all my friends,” Booker said. “Everyone I associate with I’ve been showing. Call of Duty did a great job of sending me in-game clips and trailers.”

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From sharing clips to unloading them, the Call of Duty drop-in is a major moment for the 27-year-old hooper hitting his prime.

Booker’s megastar status – one that boasts over five million followers on Instagram and an NBA salary of nearly $34 million a season – alludes an aura of audience and mass appeal few could fathom.

On the contrary, his connection to Call of Duty derives from a time when fame and friends were miles away.

“Growing up, it was a connection thing,” said Booker. “I moved from Grand Rapids, Mich., away from all my childhood friends, to Mississippi. I felt like I was still at school in Michigan because every day after school, we’d get on the game.”

For those at or below Booker’s age bracket, Call of Duty is the group chat and fantasy football all in one. A place to connect and compete. Now, those same friends who played online from the Mitten will be battling Book as Book.

“I want to do a private lobby with all the homies,” Booker said. “Everybody has to use the skin to see what it feels like to be stacked by four Books.”

From Phoenix to Lexington, Michigan to Mississippi, all of Book’s dogs will have a chance to compete in the game they love with the All-Star they endear.

For Booker himself, the emotion of being a part of the game he grew up loving, much like that of his NBA ascent, is one of great gratitude but also spooky surrealism.

On the hardwood, Book is lacing them up against those he grew up watching. Now in Call of Duty, he’s competing against friends, family, and total strangers parading as him.

“It’s gonna be a strange feeling,” said Booker. “I talked about it with KD. He said, ‘Man, it’s so funny when people murk me with my own character.’ Hopefully, I see a lot of it.”

Akin to “The Real Slim Shady” music video, or more a public library, he’ll be seeing plenty of Books.

Though the one-of-one shooter has been cloned as a weapon of mass consumption, it’s a scaling act for his brand that remains just as personal and particular as everything he does.

“I’m cool with keeping it core,” said Booker on his approach to partnerships. “As you know, I don’t do much. So I’ve always wanted to partner my name in things that I’m interested in. Call of Duty was a layup. I’ve been involved in it the whole time and had fun every step of the way.”

A layup for Book, and the COD community sniping as and at the four-time NBA All-Star.

“I want people using this game,” Booker said. “My Activision name is dbook, so hopefully, when people kill me with the skin, they put two and two together.”

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Ian Stonebrook

Ian Stonebrook is a Staff Writer covering culture, sports, and fashion for Boardroom. Prior to signing on, Ian spent a decade at Nice Kicks as a writer and editor. Over the course of his career, he's been published by the likes of Complex, Jordan Brand, GOAT, Cali BBQ Media, SoleSavy, and 19Nine. Ian spends all his free time hooping and he's heard on multiple occasions that Drake and Nas have read his work, so that's pretty tight.

About The Author
Ian Stonebrook
Ian Stonebrook
Ian Stonebrook is a Staff Writer covering culture, sports, and fashion for Boardroom. Prior to signing on, Ian spent a decade at Nice Kicks as a writer and editor. Over the course of his career, he's been published by the likes of Complex, Jordan Brand, GOAT, Cali BBQ Media, SoleSavy, and 19Nine. Ian spends all his free time hooping and he's heard on multiple occasions that Drake and Nas have read his work, so that's pretty tight.