Features

The Friday Five: 5 Teams to Rebuild in Franchise Modes This Year

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 teams that you might consider trying to rebuild in this year’s franchise modes.

Last week, I discussed some of the most appealing options in terms of teams to use in this year’s franchise modes. This week, I’m looking at some of the more challenging options, in the form of teams that are currently rebuilding. Admittedly a couple of the teams that I mentioned last week are in rebuilding phases themselves, but they also happen to have a bit more talent on their rosters, including players with definite superstar potential. The teams I’m focusing on this time around generally aren’t quite as talented, but still present some interesting scenarios for franchise gamers.

Assuming control of a rebuilding team in a franchise mode can be an unusual experience. Depending on your skill on the sticks, lottery-bound teams can greatly overachieve, even pulling off unlikely championship victories in year one. Of course, you’ll certainly have your work cut out for you, and the rosters of teams who are bottoming out or trying to claw their way back to respectability aren’t always fun to play with. At the same time, the challenge they present can be an enjoyable change of pace. With that in mind, let’s take a look at five teams that you can try to rebuild in the franchise modes of NBA Live 18 and NBA 2K18.

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Wayback Wednesday: NBA Live 96 Complete Update

Kobe Bryant 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 the Complete Update mod I made for NBA Live 96 PC.

Maybe it’s because it’s been a while since I’ve worked on a major roster project, or perhaps it’s talking about old mods in recent editions of Wayback Wednesday, but recently I’ve been feeling somewhat nostalgic about the days when I was more active in the modding community. I’ve talked about my 1996 season mod for NBA Live 2004 (which will be receiving further updates, thanks to Murat) and the NBA Live PC project for NBA Live 06 (which I’d love to update if I had the time), but this time I’m going back even further, to the Complete Update that I made for NBA Live 96.

Even though it’s obviously been far surpassed by the numerous games that have followed it, the PC version of NBA Live 96 remains one of my all-time favourite basketball games. Indeed, it was for that very reason that I was still making updates for it as late as 2001, even though it was already becoming something of a relic. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: Everything’s Coming Up THRILLHO!

NLSC THRILLHO in NBA 2K17's 2K Pro-Am

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 highlight reel from NLSC THRILLHO’s season of 2K Pro-Am in NBA 2K17.

When NBA 2K17 was released, the very first thing that Arcane, Kenny, The X, Valor, and I did was to play a game of 2K Pro-Am. We’d had a lot of fun with the mode in NBA 2K16, and having created our players in last year’s Prelude, we decided to jump right into the 2K Pro-Am experience. With the exception of a short break earlier this year, we’ve been enjoying some regular sessions over the past twelve months. However, as we discussed in last week’s Podcast, with this year’s Prelude and NBA 2K18 both right around the corner, we’ve been rapidly approaching the end of our season. On Saturday, we enjoyed a win that felt like a great game to end on.

Through all the ups and downs, we’ve had some really fun times running with our NLSC THRILLHO squad in 2K Pro-Am. We’re still deciding whether we’ll keep the name for NBA 2K18, but in the meantime, I’ve put together an extended highlight reel of memorable moments where everything was definitely coming up THRILLHO! Check it out below, or catch it here on our YouTube channel.

I hope you enjoyed the reel! If you’d care to check out some of our less spectacular moments, last December I put together a reel where it definitely seemed like nothing was coming up THRILLHO. Thanks to Arcane, Kenny, The X, Valor, and zzcoolj21 for being great teammates and a lot of fun to chat to and joke around with as we play. Here’s to more fun times NBA 2K18’s 2K Pro-Am, which of course is now part of The Neighborhood. Hopefully, the mode will be great from the moment we enter our name, THRILLHO or otherwise.

The Friday Five: 5 Teams To Use in Franchise Modes This Year

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 teams that are appealing prospects to play with in this year’s franchise modes.

We’re just a couple of weeks away from the release of NBA Live 18 and NBA 2K18! Although I anticipate spending time with modes like MyCAREER, The One, 2K Pro-Am, MyTEAM, and Ultimate Team, I’m also looking forward to returning to my roots as a franchise gamer. Given its incredible depth, MyLEAGUE will likely be my mode of choice, but I’m still undecided as to which team I’ll use. My beloved Chicago Bulls are naturally always an option, but with the team entering a rebuilding phase, they’re not exactly the most appealing squad. I can’t help but think back to my attempts to play Franchise Mode with the Ron Mercer-led Bulls in NBA Live 2001!

MyLEAGUE does offer the flexibility of controlling multiple teams, switching control of teams, and of course, creating a brand new expansion team. However, I must admit that I’d personally prefer to take control of one franchise, and a real NBA team at that. I can’t rule out trying to make things work with the Bulls, but there are quite a few interesting possibilities heading into the 2018 season. If you’re looking for a team that can be competitive out of the gate, but also provide options in terms of wheeling and dealing, here are five teams that you may want to consider using in the franchise modes of NBA Live 18 and NBA 2K18.

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Wayback Wednesday: Legends & Champs Rosters for NBA Live

Isiah Thomas in the Legends Roster for NBA Live 2000

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 Legends and Champs rosters for NBA Live on PC.

The announcement that NBA 2K18 will be receiving new historical content, not only in the form of additional classic teams but also All-Time squads, drew a lot of excitement from gamers who are also enthusiastic NBA history buffs. While there have been omissions and other issues, historical content is something that the 2K series has generally done a great job with since NBA 2K11. Of course, as more than a couple of people have pointed out here and on social media, All-Time Teams are not a completely original concept, as many fan-made rosters featuring such squads have been created in recent years.

However, the concept goes back a lot further than that. Rosters comprised of All-Time squads date all the way back to the early days of patching NBA Live on PC, as Lutz’s Legends rosters demonstrate. For that matter, the concept of classic teams was also utilised by his Champs rosters. It’s been a while and a lot of newer basketball gamers probably aren’t aware of those influential mods, so let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: Metacritic Scores & Basketball Games

Giannis Antetolounmpo dunks the basketball 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 Metacritic scores, and how they relate to basketball games.

We’re less than three weeks away from the release of NBA Live 18 and NBA 2K18. It won’t be long before publications are getting their hands on the finished games, and vying to be the first to post their reviews. The most glowing reviews will be shared by the games’ official social media accounts, while we basketball gamers discuss the merits of each reviewer’s critique. At the end of the day, however, their approval or disapproval of each game will contribute to their respective Metacritic scores. Like all developers, both EA Sports and Visual Concepts will be hoping for the best result possible, as Metacritic scores are the yardstick for successful releases.

Generally speaking, that’s an understandable approach. While there can certainly be a disconnect between the opinions of professional reviewers and the general public, along with sales, Metacritic scores are a reasonable barometer for a game’s success. At the same time, when it comes to basketball games, and sports games in general for that matter, I’d argue that they’re not always accurate or fair. I’m not a huge fan of awarding numerical scores to games of any genre, and as far as basketball games are concerned, the extent to which the importance of Metacritic scores can be overblown is comparable to the overemphasis on overall ratings in the games themselves.

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The Friday Five: 5 Changes I’d Make To The NLSC & Community

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 discusses some of the changes I’d like to make to the NLSC and our community in general.

Tomorrow marks my sixteenth anniversary as webmaster/administrator of the NLSC. I took over the site from Tim on August 26th 2001, a little less than two months before my seventeenth birthday. In other words, at this point I’ve basically been running the site for half of my life, which is kind of an overwhelming thought to be honest! I’ve had my ups and downs during that time – personally, professionally, and with the NLSC itself – but I don’t regret taking the gig for a minute. It’s given me a lot of creative satisfaction, fascinating insight into one of my favourite hobbies, and some tremendous opportunities.

Like a lot of people, I often look at milestones and anniversaries as an opportunity to reflect and take stock of things. It doesn’t pay to dwell too much on the past, but no matter what you’re doing, it’s important to learn from experience. One of my goals is to keep the NLSC relevant and maintain a certain level of quality, while also looking to get even better. I’d like to think that I’ve had some success in that regard, but at the same time, there’s still work to be done. I may be covering some familiar ground here, but as I look forward to bigger and better things, here are five changes that I’d like to make to the NLSC and our corner of the basketball gaming community.

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Wayback Wednesday: Quick Pick Play in NBA Live 08

Quick Pick Play Menu Option in NBA Live 08

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 Quick Pick Play in NBA Live 08.

Custom teams were once a staple of both NBA Live and NBA 2K, from the original four squads in NBA Live to the fully customisable teams in later games. Unfortunately, neither game currently features custom teams, at least in the traditional sense. NBA 2K has expansion team creation and team relocation and rebranding in MyLEAGUE and MyGM, but the old method of adding a new team to a roster is no longer available. NBA Live 2000 was the last Live to feature custom teams, and as such, they became a popular Wishlist item. In NBA Live 08 for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, EA Sports tried to grant that wish by way of a new mode: Quick Pick Play.

It’s another mode that probably isn’t too well-remembered, even among hardcore NBA Live gamers. However, like a lot of long-forgotten features in basketball video games, it’s worth another glance all these years later. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: PC Basketball Gamer? Get a Gamepad!

NBA Playgrounds PC Gamepad Configuration

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 some advice to PC basketball gamers, regarding the necessity of a dual analog gamepad.

With last week’s gameplay blog, we’ve learned that there will be a few tweaks to the controls in NBA 2K18. Beyond those changes however, the general approach will remain the same. The game will still feature the Pro Stick, which is used to perform both dribbling moves and specific types of shot attempts on cue. Dual analog controls aren’t an issue on Sony and Microsoft’s consoles, which have made use of controllers with two sticks for a few generations now. The approach can cause problems for PC users however, especially if they prefer to use the keyboard to play games.

It’s admittedly less of an issue than it used to be. Both NBA Live and NBA 2K have featured dual analog controls for over a decade now, so a majority of gamers have made the adjustment and picked up a gamepad for their PC. There are a few holdouts, though. Every so often, someone will ask for help using the keyboard with a PC version of NBA 2K or NBA Live, or complain that the keyboard controls are lacking. This is fair enough, as everyone has their own preference, and the keyboard is a viable option for many other games. However, if you’re a PC basketball gamer who wants to have complete control, there’s really only one solution: get a gamepad.

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The Friday Five: 5 More Basketball Game Features Ahead of Their Time

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 takes a look at five basketball game features that were ahead of their time.

I guess I’m in the mood for sequels at the moment. After following up an older Friday Five with another list of random basketball game facts a couple of weeks ago, I’ve got another Part 2 column for you today. Back in October of last year, I talked about five basketball game features that were ahead of their time. Since the list is obviously much longer than just those five, and we’re in the midst of learning about the new additions and innovations in this year’s games, I thought I’d take the opportunity to discuss five more basketball game features that were ahead of their time when they made their debut.

Like I said in my previous column, it can be surprising to see how long ago it was that certain features made their basketball game debut. Conversely, it’s also somewhat disheartening when you remember that some of them can’t be found in more recent titles. On a more positive note, some features and gameplay mechanics have definitely been enhanced since they were first implemented, or paved the way for similar and ultimately superior concepts. With that in mind, here are five basketball game features that demonstrated great foresight and technological achievement.

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Wayback Wednesday: NBA Live 2004 Print Ad & Trailer

Vince Carter dunks the basketball in NBA Live 2004

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 an old print ad and trailer for NBA Live 2004.

A few weeks ago, I was using the Wayback Machine at Archive.org to try and find a downloadable version of the official patch for NBA Live 2003. As I mentioned in a recent Friday Five feature, it’s a file that’s no longer available, and I was hoping that I could retrieve it via an archived copy of the game’s official website. Unfortunately I didn’t have any luck in that regard, but I did manage to find some old preview media for NBA Live 2004 and NBA Live 2005. Among them was a print ad featuring cover player Vince Carter, and a gameplay trailer.

NBA Live 2004 is definitely a classic, and I’m sure that long-time members of our community have many fond memories of it. Since we’re also in the thick of the preview seasons for NBA Live 18 and NBA 2K18, I thought it’d be fun to take a look back at how games used to be promoted in the lead up to their release. With that in mind, let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: How My Basketball Gaming Habits Changed

Ben Gordon in NBA Live 06

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 my basketball gaming habits have changed over the years.

I’ve been playing basketball games for quite a while now. It’s an interest that began as I was entering my teenage years, intensified in my mid-to-late teens when I created the NBA Live Domain and then subsequently took over running the NLSC, and has since continued into adulthood. Now that I’m in my early thirties, I’m finding that I’m approaching the hobby differently. I’m still passionate about it, but with different priorities and responsibilities, I’ve had to ration my time and make a few adjustments to the way that I play. Of course, there have been gradual changes to my habits ever since the very beginning of my interest in basketball gaming.

The evolution of basketball gaming, as well as my own changing tastes, have both played a role here. Picking up two annual releases rather than just the one is a major factor as well. With NBA Live 18 and NBA 2K18 coming out next month, I’ll once again be faced with the prospect of dividing my time between two current games. Just how much I enjoy those games will also depend on my expectations and tolerance for legacy issues, which have been shaped by all my years of basketball gaming. As I prepare for the next batch of previews, and the new games themselves, I thought that I’d reflect on how my habits have changed over time.

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The Friday Five: 5 Basketball Games I’m Oddly Nostalgic For

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 basketball games that I’m oddly nostalgic for.

We each have our all-time favourite basketball games. Even when they’ve been surpassed by new titles, it’s natural to feel nostalgic towards old favourites. In the best case scenario, some of them may still hold up reasonably well, and be fun to play years later. As far as the sim-oriented basketball games are concerned, my list would include NBA Live 95, NBA Live 96, NBA Live 2000, NBA Live 2004, NBA Live 2005, NBA Live 06, and now that a few years have passed, NBA 2K11, NBA 2K12, and NBA 2K13. In terms of arcade basketball games, there’s NBA Jam Tournament Edition, NBA Street Homecourt, and more recently, NBA Jam: On Fire Edition.

I’m nostalgic for those titles because they rank among my all-time favourites, but then there are also basketball games that I feel an affinity for, even though they wouldn’t make my personal top five or ten. Some of those games are quite flawed, or at the very least haven’t aged too well, yet there’s something that draws me to them. Sometimes it’s the general atmosphere, sometimes it’s an ultimately inconsequential detail such as the soundtrack, and sometimes it has more to do with when they came out and where I was at in my life at the time. Whatever the case may be, these are five basketball games that I’m oddly nostalgic for, given the circumstances.

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Wayback Wednesday: NBA 2K12 Promotional Copy Opening

Promotional Copy of NBA 2K12

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 opening up a sealed promotional copy of NBA 2K12 for Xbox 360 that I found on eBay.

In recent years I’ve continued to expand my collection of basketball video games, not only buying the latest releases, but also picking up older games that I’ve found on eBay at an affordable price. Some of those games I’ve previously owned and sold, while others I’ve never owned or even played before. I’ve also bought different versions of games that I already own, in order to experience them on other platforms. While browsing eBay looking for deals, I found a sealed, promotional copy of NBA 2K12 for the Xbox 360. Intrigued as to what might be in the box – perhaps a code for the 2002 Sacramento Kings and 1991 Golden State Warriors? – I decided to pick it up.

Since I was going to have to tear open the seal anyway in order to check it out, I figured that I might as well make a sort of unboxing video feature out of it. For your entertainment, let’s open up this sealed promotional copy of NBA 2K12 for Xbox 360, and take a look back…way back…

Check it out here on the NLSC’s YouTube channel if you can’t see the embedded video. I’ll be looking to create video content a bit more often moving forward, so be sure to subscribe! If you’d like to check out more Wayback Wednesday content related to NBA 2K12, be sure to read this retrospective of NBA’s Greatest.

Monday Tip-Off: Gameplay vs. Game Modes

MyCAREER in NBA 2K17 with the Denver Nuggets

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 the debate regarding the importance of gameplay vs. the importance of game modes, in basketball video games.

For the most part, we basketball gamers can generally agree that we want to see the games that we play get better and better with each release. Of course, we’re not always on the same page as far as the specific improvements are concerned. At the very least, we may prioritise them quite differently. We need to realise that these differing points of view are equally valid; it’s perfectly fine to like different aspects of the games, and as such, have a keener interest in seeing them improve compared to others. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to see your fellow basketball gamers talking about something that doesn’t interest you, and not feel that they’re missing the point.

Perhaps the best example of this is the whole gameplay vs. game modes debate. It’s fair to say that most basketball gamers would agree that both gameplay and game modes are the most important aspects of any given release, but disagree on the importance of those aspects in relation to one another. I’ve recently seen a few comments that have derided the importance of game modes, and over the years, there have been more than a couple of remarks that have downplayed the necessity of getting the gameplay experience right. To that end, I thought that I’d offer up my thoughts on the debate regarding gameplay vs. game modes.

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