Features

The Friday Five: 5 Players Who Abruptly Left the NBA

The Friday Five

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Friday Five! The Friday Five is a feature that I post every Friday in which I give my thoughts on a topic that’s related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games, as well as the real NBA, and other areas of interest to our community. The feature is presented as either a list of five items, or in the form of a Top 5 countdown. This week’s Five is a list of five players who left the NBA quite abruptly.

Not all NBA players receive a big send-off when they call it a career. Farewell tours are generally reserved for future Hall of Famers, and even then, that’s something that only happens when a player makes a definitive declaration that the current season will be their last. Even when a player leaves the NBA without a big announcement or much fanfare, it isn’t necessarily a surprise. If they’re getting on in years and have already enjoyed a lengthy career, there’s usually no mystery as to why they’ve decided to hang it up, and are no longer a fixture after being around for so many years.

And then, there are the players who appear to leave the NBA quite abruptly and without any kind of statement, even when they seem to have several seasons left in them. Some quietly go overseas to play, or officially retire a few years later, but whatever the case, they’ll fail to latch on with a team and then that will be the last we’ll ever see of them in the NBA. While that’s inevitable given the limited amount of roster spots and the constant influx of new talent, we are left wondering what happened when prominent players seemingly just disappear. Here are five such players whose NBA careers came to a rather abrupt halt.

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Wayback Wednesday: Midweek Patch Report & Webmaster News

Patrick Ewing in the Complete Update for NBA Live 96

This is Wayback Wednesday, your midweek blast from the past! In this feature, we dig into the archives, look back at the history of basketball gaming, and indulge in some nostalgia. Check in every Wednesday for retrospectives and other features on older versions of NBA Live, NBA 2K, and old school basketball video games in general. You’ll also find old NLSC editorials re-published with added commentary, and other flashback content. This week, I’m taking a look back at my old columns, the Midweek Patch Report and Webmaster News.

If you’ve been around the community for a long time or perhaps read some of my previous articles, you may know that I used to run a site called the NBA Live Domain before I took over the NLSC in August of 2001. It started out as a place for me to host my own patches for NBA Live, but after a while, I felt like branching out with feature articles and the like. I experimented with the odd opinion piece and even created a subsite dedicated to covering the real NBA, but the columns that stuck were the Midweek Patch Report, and Webmaster News.

Both were regular weekly columns that became fixtures of the NBA Live Domain until I closed the site in December 2001, in order to properly focus on updating and developing content for the NLSC. They were instrumental in my development as a content creator though, so join me today as I take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: The Worst Pass in Playground History

Andrew & Arcane at The Playground (NBA 2K18)

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Start your week here at the NLSC with a feature that’s dedicated to opinions, commentary, and other fun stuff related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games. This week, I’m tipping things off with a video of what might just be the worst pass in the history of The Playground and MyPARK, and a few thoughts on the circumstances surrounding it.

As discussed in Episode #230 of the NLSC Podcast, Arcane and I have been heading to The Playground for a few games after wrapping up our sessions of 2K Pro-Am with the NLSC squad. We’ve enjoyed a victory over a couple of Playground veterans, and after donning our Gatorade t-shirts, also managed to rack up five wins to earn some bonus VC. In some respects, our time on the online virtual blacktop in NBA 2K18 has been more enjoyable than our recent Pro-Am games, which have been rather rough. However, there was a moment of particular frustration after the ball was checked to Arcane, and his pass to me went completely awry.

I now present to you what may be the worst pass in the history of The Playground, and indeed, any mode of basketball gaming.

While miscues like that do make basketball games more realistic, I’m not sure that any NBA player would mess up a pass that badly, in that particular situation. It’s one of my main gripes with NBA 2K18’s gameplay, and something that often happens in our online games. In an effort to inject more realism into the experience, errors like that will happen at random, often feeling very artificial and predetermined as a result. Notice how my player doesn’t even try reaching out to catch the pass! We’ve had similar experiences in 2K Pro-Am with players being unable to catch or accurately throw what should be easy passes, time after time.

There is merit in having mistakes and sloppy moments in basketball video games, in order to make them feel more dynamic and realistic. However, in a situation like this, you just end up feeling cheated by the game. Moving forward, I’d like to see miscues and mess-ups handled in a way that feels less canned, and more in tune with both a player’s abilities and the action on the court. The Winner’s Outs rule in 2v2 on The Playground can make things tough enough when you’re facing a couple of cheesy players, without the game being against you as well. As it stands, we definitely found ourselves having a Shaqtin’ a Fool moment on this particular occasion.

The Friday Five: 5 Most Useless Features in Basketball Games

The Friday Five

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Friday Five! The Friday Five is a feature that I post every Friday in which I give my thoughts on a topic that’s related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games, as well as the real NBA, and other areas of interest to our community. The feature is presented as either a list of five items, or in the form of a Top 5 countdown. This week’s Five is a list of some of the most useless features and functions that we’ve seen in basketball games.

We’ve come to expect a significant amount of depth in basketball video games, not only in terms of the modes and gameplay, but also features and functionality. Be they big or small, glamorous or mundane, frequently used or just handy to have when we need them, there are numerous features and functions that go a long way in providing a well-rounded basketball gaming experience. And then, there are the features that aren’t so useful. Of course, usefulness can be subjective. If you enjoy outfitting your player in different clothing, for example, you’ll find that feature a lot more useful than someone who has no interest in that aspect of the career modes.

Taking a look at features of questionable usefulness, some are good ideas that just haven’t been executed well, while others are pointless at best. Certain features have seen their usefulness decline over time, either due to neglect or redundancy. Whatever the case may be, sometimes you’ll see a feature or function in a basketball video game, and wonder why the developers spent any time implementing it. Other times, you may wish that they spent a little more time on a feature, in order to make it more worthwhile. Without any further ado, here are five features that we’ve seen in basketball games – past and present – that I would rank among the most useless.

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Wayback Wednesday: Replay Editing in NBA Live 09

Replay Editing in NBA Live 09

This is Wayback Wednesday, your midweek blast from the past! In this feature, we dig into the archives, look back at the history of basketball gaming, and indulge in some nostalgia. Check in every Wednesday for retrospectives and other features on older versions of NBA Live, NBA 2K, and old school basketball video games in general. You’ll also find old NLSC editorials re-published with added commentary, and other flashback content. This week, I’m taking a look back at the replay editing and uploading functionality in NBA Live 09.

Instant replay is nothing new in sports video games. Bulls vs Lakers, the sequel to Lakers vs Celtics, introduced the feature to EA’s original basketball series. Since then it’s become a staple of the genre, one that we’ve used to re-watch our finest (or most frustrating) moments on the virtual hardwood. Although subsequent games have introduced welcome features such as multiple camera angles, the ability to manually trigger cinematic replays, and even video exporting functionality, not many games have had extensive replay editing tools. EA’s Michael Jordan in Flight was an early title that did, but since then, it’s generally been a rarity.

When the ability to save replays returned in NBA Live 09, EA Sports took things a step further and included replay editing tools, as well as sharing functionality. With some of the other improvements in NBA Live 09, such as the implementation of Dynamic DNA, it’s a feature that is arguably somewhat overlooked. It’s well worth revisiting however, so let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: How Modding Projects Fall Apart

Abandoned 1998 Season Modding Project (NBA Live 2003)

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Start your week here at the NLSC with a feature that’s dedicated to opinions, commentary, and other fun stuff related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games. This week, I’m tipping things off with a look at how modding projects fall apart, while discussing a recent personal example.

Although I’m not as involved with modding as I once was, I won’t deny the lure of working on roster updates. I’ve previously discussed some of the mods that I’d like to make, should I be able to put aside the free time and get sufficiently motivated. That certainly still holds true, and as previously mentioned, I do have a list of modding ideas, similar to my lists of topics for the Monday Tip-Off, Wayback Wednesday, and Friday Five features. Every so often, I might do a little bit of preliminary work on one of those ideas, but aside from one or two beta releases, a majority of them haven’t progressed any further than that.

I’ve really enjoyed producing my Wayback Wednesday content since I introduced the feature a couple of years ago, as it’s been a way to reminisce about old favourites, and talk about some interesting modes, community history, and basketball gaming trivia. It’s also provided an opportunity to indulge in some retro gaming, which I enjoy doing across a variety of genres. Of course, I sometimes find myself becoming drawn towards an old release, especially if it’s one that I’ve spent a considerable amount of time modding. Such was the case with NBA Live 2003, where I recently toyed with the idea of a mod, only to be reminded of how easily projects can fall apart.

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The Friday Five: 5 Quietest Additions in Basketball Games

The Friday Five

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Friday Five! The Friday Five is a feature that I post every Friday in which I give my thoughts on a topic that’s related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games, as well as the real NBA, and other areas of interest to our community. The feature is presented as either a list of five items, or in the form of a Top 5 countdown. This week’s Five is a list of some of the quietest additions that have been made in basketball games over the years.

Not all additions to basketball games receive a big announcement and a lot of fanfare, be they a brand new feature, or content pushed through during the season. As demonstrated just last week, new content in particular can be added very quietly. Of course, when it comes to the preview season, both EA Sports and Visual Concepts do tend to go to much greater lengths to inform us about new additions to NBA Live and NBA 2K. It stands to reason, as along with improvements to existing features, any exciting new additions are strong selling points that are likely to move units.

With that being said, even during the preview season, there are additions that seem to fly under the radar. There are a few reasons as to why this may happen. A long time ago, the preview season wasn’t as comprehensive and in-depth as it is now. There’s also oversight, and underestimation of a feature’s appeal. Alternatively, something may be kept under wraps to keep it a surprise, though this runs the risk of wasting a good selling point. Some additions may be kept quiet to avoid potential controversy. Whatever the case may be, there have been several additions to basketball games that have had little to no hype or promotion. Let’s look at five of them.

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Wayback Wednesday: Lakers vs Celtics and the NBA Playoffs

Lakers vs Celtics and the NBA Playoffs

This is Wayback Wednesday, your midweek blast from the past! In this feature, we dig into the archives, look back at the history of basketball gaming, and indulge in some nostalgia. Check in every Wednesday for retrospectives and other features on older versions of NBA Live, NBA 2K, and old school basketball video games in general. You’ll also find old NLSC editorials re-published with added commentary, and other flashback content. This week, I’m presenting a video retrospective of Lakers vs Celtics and the NBA Playoffs.

The rivalry between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Celtics stretches back decades in NBA lore. It seems only fitting that as the latest chapter of their epic saga was drawing to a close in the late 1980s, Electronic Arts decided to name their new five-on-five basketball game after the rivalry that had produced so many memorable moments. A forerunner to the NBA Live series, Lakers vs Celtics and the NBA Playoffs was EA’s first real effort to make a sim-oriented NBA title. Over the years, it’s rightfully come to be considered a classic, introducing many features that have since become staples of basketball gaming. Let’s take a look back…way back…

Check out the retrospective over on our YouTube channel if you can’t see it embedded here. Speaking of retrospectives and looking back at the history of the NBA Live series, I’m hoping to finally finish up our extended 20th Anniversary of NBA Live content by the end of 2017. Wayback Wednesday will of course remain a regular feature here at the NLSC, so check in each and every week for more retro basketball gaming content. In the meantime, do you have any memories of Lakers vs Celtics that you’d like to share? Add them in the comments section below, and as always, feel free to take the discussion to the NLSC Forum!

Monday Tip-Off: Fans, Not Fanboys; Critics, Not Haters

Dwight Howard Dunks (NBA Live 18)

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Start your week here at the NLSC with a feature that’s dedicated to opinions, commentary, and other fun stuff related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games. This week, I’m tipping things off with a few thoughts on how we can be better fans and critics, and avoid being haters and fanboys.

In one of the earliest Monday Tip-Off features that I posted, I discussed the issue of fanboys and haters in the basketball gaming community. Glancing back at a couple of the comments, I perhaps didn’t explain my point clearly enough. Needless to say, it’s virtually impossible for anyone to be completely impartial. We’re all going to have our own preferences, and a bias that’s tough to completely put aside. To a certain extent, a strong devotion or aversion to a brand is a justified reaction to continued enjoyment or disappointment. Taken to the extreme, however, we just end up getting on each other’s nerves, and ultimately doing ourselves a disservice.

The motto I’ve adopted in regards to the NLSC is “fans, not fanboys; critics, not haters”. In other words, we should look to enjoy basketball gaming and celebrate our hobby, but at the same time, we shouldn’t shut down criticism and pretend that there aren’t any problems. Similarly, we should point out the things that we dislike and make constructive criticisms, but we shouldn’t blindly bash the games, nor tell our fellow gamers that they shouldn’t enjoy themselves. It’s easy to forget that enjoyment and criticism aren’t mutually exclusive, and that we’re not all divided into fanboys and haters. At least, we certainly shouldn’t be aiming to be in one of those two groups.

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The Friday Five: 5 Little Details Basketball Games Have Nailed

The Friday Five

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Friday Five! The Friday Five is a feature that I post every Friday in which I give my thoughts on a topic that’s related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games, as well as the real NBA, and other areas of interest to our community. The feature is presented as either a list of five items, or in the form of a Top 5 countdown. This week’s Five is a list of five concepts and little details that basketball games have captured extremely well.

It bears repeating that it’s alright to criticise basketball games. As I’ve previously discussed, and will no doubt touch upon again in the future, it’s something that gaming communities can easily forget. Any gaming community that censors and discourages criticism is doing a disservice to the games that they’re interested in, and ultimately, themselves as consumers. Constructive criticism should always be encouraged over nastiness and abuse, but we must remember that it’s OK to point out the things that we dislike, while also discussing the elements that we enjoy.

By the same token, of course, it’s also fine to take a break from criticising the aspects of basketball games that we don’t like, to marvel at the things we do enjoy about them. In that regard, it’s quite often the little things that really make the experience. Basketball games have come a long way, and while improvements to graphics, AI, controls, and so forth are often more readily apparent, there are a lot of concepts and smaller details that are very impressive in their own right. They may be subtle, but often contribute that extra bit of authenticity to the overall experience. Here are five examples of little details that basketball games have really nailed in recent years.

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Wayback Wednesday: Dynamic Season in NBA Live 10

Dynamic Season in the Main Menu (NBA Live 10)

This is Wayback Wednesday, your midweek blast from the past! In this feature, we dig into the archives, look back at the history of basketball gaming, and indulge in some nostalgia. Check in every Wednesday for retrospectives and other features on older versions of NBA Live, NBA 2K, and old school basketball video games in general. You’ll also find old NLSC editorials re-published with added commentary, and other flashback content. This week, I’m taking a look back at Dynamic Season in NBA Live 10.

While I still consider the PC version of NBA Live 06 to be the last truly well-rounded instalment in the NBA Live series, NBA Live 10 has to be given its due. It holds up quite well, and EA Sports definitely should’ve continued to build on it rather than changing directions with NBA Elite 11. Had EA not elected to take that risk, the series might be in much better shape, and the landscape of basketball gaming would likely have been very different these past seven years. In addition to its mechanics and overall gameplay being very solid, NBA Live 10 also featured some innovative modes and concepts, including the one we’re looking at today: Dynamic Season.

Dynamic Season was an effective way of implementing an idea that basketball gamers had wanted to see for some time, and it’s something that EA Sports should definitely consider bringing back in future NBA Live games. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: NLSC GrindTime vs. Elite Team in 2K Pro-Am

NLSC GrindTime in 2K Pro-Am (NBA 2K18)

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Start your week here at the NLSC with a feature that’s dedicated to opinions, commentary, and other fun stuff related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games. This week, I’m tipping things off with a video of NLSC GrindTime taking on an Elite tier team in NBA 2K18’s 2K Pro-Am.

As Arcane and I discussed in Episode #228 of the NLSC Podcast, our 2K Pro-Am squad for NBA 2K18, NLSC GrindTime, has been having some competitive games as of late. Although we had a rough start to this year’s campaign, our record has been improving, and we’ve had some enjoyable sessions in recent weeks.

We’re at the point where we’re starting to get matched up with some Elite teams, which naturally puts our stick skills to the test. One of our recent matchups with an Elite tier squad turned out to be quite a game right from the opening tip. I present to you that game in its entirety, accompanied by some classic NBA Live menu music.

You can also catch it here on our YouTube channel, if you can’t see the embedded video. With any luck, we’ll be able to reach the Elite rank at some point this year, and implement our full NLSC branding as we did with THRILLHO in NBA 2K17. No doubt we’ll be sharing more highlight reels from time to time, in addition to our other video content, so be sure to subscribe. Our 2K Pro-Am sessions are a staple of the “Our Week in Basketball Gaming” segment of the NLSC Podcast, so tune in every week for recaps and commentary on our latest sessions on the virtual hardwood.

Who else has been spending some time playing 2K Pro-Am or The Playground in NBA 2K18? What have your online experiences been like? Sound off in the comments section below, and as always, feel free to take the discussion to the NLSC Forum!

The Friday Five: 5 Thoughts As Space Jam Turns 21

The Friday Five

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Friday Five! The Friday Five is a feature that I post every Friday in which I give my thoughts on a topic that’s related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games, as well as the real NBA, and other areas of interest to our community. The feature is presented as either a list of five items, or in the form of a Top 5 countdown. This week’s Five is a reflection on the movie Space Jam, twenty-one years after its release.

Hey, everyone who grew up in the 90s! Want to feel old? A couple of days ago, it was twenty-one years since Space Jam was released in theatres. Yes, really! Time does indeed keep on slipping into the future. In retrospect, I should’ve covered Space Jam for this week’s Wayback Wednesday, as it fell on the actual anniversary of the film’s release, November 15th. However, I completely spaced on that (no pun intended), and I’ve also wanted to revisit NBA Jam Tournament Edition for a while, so I did end up overlooking an obvious opportunity. As such, I’m making up for that with a bit of additional retro content for this week’s Friday Five.

Even if you weren’t around in 1996, chances are that you’ve seen, or at least heard of, Space Jam. The plot basically has some fun with Michael Jordan’s stint playing baseball, suggesting that he was inspired to return to the hardwood after helping Bugs Bunny and the rest of the Looney Tunes defeat a group of aliens who had stolen the talent of five NBA players: Charles Barkley, Muggsy Bogues, Larry Johnson, Patrick Ewing, and Shawn Bradley. It’s popular and silly, often criticised, and also the highest grossing basketball movie of all-time. It even spawned a video game, which is also worth talking about. So, let’s take a look back…way back…in five points.

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Wayback Wednesday: Revisiting NBA Jam Tournament Edition

Alonzo Mourning in NBA Jam Tournament Edition

This is Wayback Wednesday, your midweek blast from the past! In this feature, we dig into the archives, look back at the history of basketball gaming, and indulge in some nostalgia. Check in every Wednesday for retrospectives and other features on older versions of NBA Live, NBA 2K, and old school basketball video games in general. You’ll also find old NLSC editorials re-published with added commentary, and other flashback content. This week, I’m taking another look back at one of my favourite arcade basketball games, NBA Jam Tournament Edition.

When you talk about titles that older basketball gamers are nostalgic for, NBA Jam will invariably be one of the most popular games to come up. It basically set the standard for what came to be known as arcade basketball games, with its over-the-top, high-flying dunks, relaxed approach to the rules of the sport, and simple gameplay. The original NBA Jam was a hit in arcades and with its home ports, appealing to basketball enthusiasts and more casual fans alike. It’s since spawned sequels, spiritual successors, and more than a couple of imitators with varying degrees of quality.

The original game is considered a classic and for good reason, but personally, I’ve always preferred its sequel, NBA Jam Tournament Edition. It’s a game I looked back at in the second ever Wayback Wednesday feature, around this time two years ago. Back then, I provided a few off-the-cuff thoughts on the game over some footage I’d been sitting on for a few years. I enjoyed doing that and it was a fun way to start getting into creating some video content, but I’ve always wanted to revisit NBA Jam Tournament Edition with a more fleshed out retrospective. That’s what I’m doing today, so let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: Battlefront II Events in NBA Live 18

Star Wars: Battlefront II Challenge in NBA Live 18

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Start your week here at the NLSC with a feature that’s dedicated to opinions, commentary, and other fun stuff related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games. This week, I’m tipping things off with a few thoughts on the recent Star Wars: Battlefront II events that were available in NBA Live 18.

As you may know, EA Sports recently introduced some crossover content in its sports titles, promoting the upcoming release of Star Wars: Battlefront II. For NBA Live 18, this took the form of Live Events challenges, all of which take place on a fictional Star Wars-themed court (located in Orlando, of course), with various Battlefront II-inspired gear and accessories available in the reward crates. As it stands, there’s currently a last call for the Battlefront II Challenge, giving gamers one final chance to earn some Inferno Squad-themed gear for their players to wear in The Streets.

I must admit that with all the grinding I’ve been doing to improve my NBA 2K18 MyPLAYER for 2K Pro-Am, I haven’t taken part in as many Live Events in NBA Live 18 as I’d like. However, having caught the trailer for the Battlefront II events, I wanted to make sure that I at least played a game or two before the promotion was over. The fictional court certainly looked cool, and I figured it wouldn’t hurt to stock up on some extra gear for my player to wear in The Streets. As such, I jumped online in NBA Live 18 last week, and managed to take part in a few games.

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