Monday Tip-Off

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.

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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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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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!

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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Monday Tip-Off: The Value of Virtual Currency in The Neighborhood

2K Pro-Am Player of the Game (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 breakdown of the in-universe value of Virtual Currency in The Neighborhood in NBA 2K18.

Yes, I’m writing about Virtual Currency and NBA 2K18 again. I guess I’m a hater, a biased NBA Live fanboy looking to bash 2K at every turn. According to at least one disgruntled former reader, that’s exactly what I am. Or maybe, just maybe, I’m simply a dissatisfied consumer who believes that all of us who play NBA 2K18 deserve to be treated more fairly. Whether it’s NBA 2K, NBA Live, NBA Playgrounds, or any other game that we play, we do ourselves a disservice by not speaking up when there are issues. There’s no guarantee that we’ll get the result we want, but if we don’t speak up, we can pretty much guarantee that we won’t see the changes we desire.

Frankly, I’m still talking about Virtual Currency because it’s an on-going issue. After dropping the prices of hairstyles, facial hair, and hair colours in an early patch, Visual Concepts haven’t made further adjustments to VC earnings and in-game prices. Well, that’s not entirely true. They’ve reduced the reward for Player of the Half and Player of the Game in 2K Pro-Am. What they haven’t done is increase the VC rewards, bring back the difficulty multiplier, or reduce the prices of clothing and consumables. This is particularly infuriating when you consider the actual in-universe value of Virtual Currency. Thanks to our MyPLAYER card, that’s something we can easily figure out.

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Monday Tip-Off: A Call For More Nicknames

2K Magazine in MyCAREER (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 few thoughts on nicknames in NBA 2K.

When I finally succeeded in getting my face scanned into NBA 2K18 – or more specifically, The Prelude – it didn’t turn out anywhere near as good as my NBA Live 18 scan. As I noted on my Twitter at the time, it ended up looking a little like a combination of young Adam Sandler circa Billy Madison, and young Alan Ruck from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Once the full game came out and I was able to visit Doc’s barbershop – expensive haircuts and all – I was able to add a beard. While it still isn’t a great likeness, at least it looks a little less like a Sandler-Ruck mash-up.

A few weeks back, I ended up giving my MyPLAYER longish hair, in the process making him look a little like Jaime Lannister from the early seasons of Game of Thrones. I briefly reconsidered renaming him, and even went so far as to outfit him with some yellow wrist tape, in an effort to imitate Jaime’s golden hand (uh, spoilers for anyone who still hasn’t gotten into GoT yet). I also looked at changing the audio nickname, but the most appropriate choice was probably “Cold Hands”. It got me thinking that the selection of nicknames for MyPLAYERs in NBA 2K could definitely stand to be much larger, and more varied.

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Monday Tip-Off: Planning a Return to Franchise Modes

Starting a new Franchise Game (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 few thoughts on making a return to franchise gaming this year.

My recent Wayback Wednesday series on franchise modes in NBA Live and NBA 2K served to remind me of just how much fun I’ve had with them over the years. I’ve wanted to return to franchise gaming for a while now, and writing those articles only added to my enthusiasm. I’ve gravitated towards MyCAREER and other modes in recent years, which is funny given that in MyLEAGUE and MyGM, we now have some of the deepest franchise experiences in the history of basketball video games. There are reasons why my habits have changed, of course, but I do feel like it’s time to make a return to franchise modes.

Now that NBA Live 18 and NBA 2K18 have been out for over a month, receiving multiple official patches and roster updates, it’s an opportune time to dive into the franchise experience. With the 2018 season tipping off, my interest in creating a fictional reality on the virtual hardwood has also been piqued. I do still have an interest in the card collecting modes, online team play experience, and MyCAREER, so I’ll have to ration my basketball gaming time accordingly. Beyond that, however, I do have a few other matters to consider as I plan a return to the franchise experience that I enjoyed so much as a younger basketball gamer.

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Monday Tip-Off: Late 90s Basketball in NBA 2K18

NBA 2K18: Michael Jordan Dunk

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 handful of screenshots from a game between the ’98 Chicago Bulls and ’97 Miami Heat in NBA 2K18.

Today, I turned 33. It’s funny to think that I’ve now been running the NLSC for around half my life! As I’ve said in previous articles, it’s hard to say just how long I’ll keep doing this, but I’m not intending on giving it up anytime soon. I still have a great deal of passion for basketball video games, as well as creating content based on them. After all, I’ve been playing basketball games and watching the NBA for a long time now. It’s a little overwhelming to think that it’s been twenty years since I was getting ready to watch the 1998 season, the last year that the Chicago Bulls were champions. Unfortunately, I don’t think that they’ll be anywhere close to that this season!

It’s important that we keep moving forward, and as I said in Episode #226 of the NLSC Podcast, it’s my intention to try to enjoy this season a little more than I have in recent years. There’s nothing wrong with reminiscing from time to time however, and thanks to the historical content in NBA 2K18, I can indulge in that nostalgia on the virtual hardwood. For this week’s Tip-Off, I’d like to share some screenshots that I took during a game of NBA 2K18 PC, using the 1998 Chicago Bulls against the 1997 Miami Heat. It was a fun game to play, and I’m looking forward to using the historical squads a little more often this year. Without further ado, here are the screenshots!

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Monday Tip-Off: Roster Editing & NBA Live

Kyrie Irving dribbles 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 the current lack of roster editing functionality in NBA Live.

With NBA Live 18, EA Sports’ long-running basketball series has taken some pleasing steps forward. While there’s still room for improvement, it’s had the best reception of any NBA Live game on the current generation, among gamers and reviewers alike. There’s more fluidity on the sticks, the controls have been expanded, and with The One, the game has a much deeper career mode along with some solid connected experiences. NBA Live appears to be on the right track, and even cracked the top twenty downloaded games on the PlayStation Network in September.

The team at EA Tiburon has to feel pleased with the more positive reaction to NBA Live 18, not to mention motivated as they begin work on next year’s game. However, there is one feature that’s conspicuous by its absence in NBA Live 18, and that’s roster editing. We haven’t seen roster editing in the series since NBA Live 10, and gamers are understandably getting impatient to see it return. While other areas of the game have rightfully been prioritised, roster editing is a staple that must return in NBA Live 19. That’s assuming, of course, that there isn’t a way for it to be implemented in this year’s game.

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Monday Tip-Off: Recreating Game Covers in NBA 2K18

NBA Live 06 Cover in 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 some recreations of past video game covers in NBA 2K18.

I’d like to tip this week off with something fun. It’s not that I don’t enjoy tackling more serious topics related to basketball gaming, as last week’s feature demonstrates. After all, it’s important that we critique, and share constructive ideas about our hobby. At the same time, we should also celebrate our passion for basketball gaming, and there’s always room for some levity. Although I have my criticisms, I’ve been having fun with both NBA Live 18 and NBA 2K18 so far. As I mentioned in Episode #224 of the NLSC Podcast, I’ve enjoyed playing some games with the classic teams in NBA 2K18.

While I was messing around with the retro squads, an idea came to mind. The huge amount of historical content in NBA 2K18 means that the game includes many former basketball video game cover players, spanning as far back as the mid 90s. With that in mind, I thought that it might be fun to try to recreate some of those old covers, using NBA 2K18’s classic teams. The results are a little mixed as some were definitely easier to recreate than others, but hopefully you’ll enjoy seeing what I’ve managed to put together. Let’s tip things off with a classic.

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Monday Tip-Off: Goodwill, Greed, and NBA 2K18

The Neighborhood in 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 some thoughts on the current controversies surrounding NBA 2K18, and the goodwill that Visual Concepts has lost.

I’ll admit that there’s a part of me that doesn’t want to write this column. I’ve already discussed the matter in Episode #223 of the NLSC Podcast and in the NLSC Forum, and I’d rather not sound like a broken record. Furthermore, it’s all too easy to come across like a hater, gleefully indulging in some opportunistic bashing simply because there’s a controversial issue that’s a hot topic at the moment. However, it is a big deal, and it’s something that we basketball gamers shouldn’t let slide. I am of course referring to the aggressive implementation of Virtual Currency in NBA 2K18.

By now, if you haven’t played NBA 2K18 and felt the sting of VC gouging, you’ve no doubt heard other basketball gamers expressing their outrage. Perhaps you’ve even read about 2K reaching out to a site that published a negative review, asking them to reconsider their score. These are disturbing and disheartening practices for a company that is the brand leader, with a vast majority of the market share. As a game, NBA 2K has gone from strength to strength in many aspects, stepping up to deliver great experiences on the virtual hardwood as the NBA Live series has faltered. That’s earned them the adoration of gamers, but right now, that goodwill lies in ruins.

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Monday Tip-Off: Is It MyCAREER, or The Shammy Wells Show?

Shammy Wells in NBA 2K18's MyCAREER

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 Shammy Wells is shaping up to be the real protagonist in NBA 2K18’s MyCAREER, at least in my game.

Early on in NBA 2K17’s MyCAREER, I remember feeling like Justice Young was the real star of the story. He was getting more shots, he was levelling up a lot quicker than I was, and in terms of the narrative, he was the one driving the action. As the year progressed, I surpassed him in Overall Rating and on-court performance, and by the time we hoisted the Larry O’Brien trophy, it was clear that The President of Basketball was indeed the protagonist of the story, and the star of the team. Despite my usual aversion to the story-driven approach in MyCAREER, I did enjoy last year’s tale. In terms of gameplay, I also liked having Justice as my teammate.

My reactions to the MyCAREER story in NBA 2K18 are…well, not so positive. I’ll go into that in greater detail at a later time, but suffice to say, I’m not a fan of the writing, characters, or the plot in general. As for the gameplay, I knew that I’d have to grind my way up again – it’s always the way – but I wasn’t counting on being outshone by a fictional player once again, and even more so than before. Through the early stages of MyCAREER in NBA 2K18, I have to admit that it doesn’t really feel like the story is actually about my career, at least on the court. Instead, it feels like D.J. is merely providing the soundtrack to The Shammy Wells Show.

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Monday Tip-Off: MyTEAM Packs vs. Real Card Packs

MyTEAM Lineup in NBA 2K17

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 comparing the value of MyTEAM packs to real packs of basketball trading cards.

The odds and overall value of the packs in MyTEAM have been discussed at length since the mode debuted in the NBA 2K series. As someone who used to collect basketball trading cards, I’ve often wondered how MyTEAM’s virtual packs stack up against the real thing. Are the pack odds as unfairly weighted as they sometimes seem to be? How would a box of packs in NBA 2K17’s MyTEAM, featuring a total of twenty player cards, compare to a couple of real packs of basketball trading cards, which generally include ten to twelve cards apiece?

I decided to put those questions to the test. A while back, I bought a box of League packs in MyTEAM, and spent a few minutes opening them all. I also picked up a couple of brand new packs of Panini NBA Hoops trading cards off eBay, and opened them up as well. The results were certainly interesting, and since I’ve been sitting on the footage for a while now, I’m pleased to finally present to you my comparison of MyTEAM Packs vs. Real Card Packs!

Check it out here on our YouTube channel if you can’t see the embedded video. Are you surprised by the results? What have your experiences been like when it comes to buying packs in MyTEAM? Let me know in the comments section below, and feel free to take the discussion to the NLSC Forum! With NBA Live 18 and NBA 2K18 coming out this week, I’ll be looking to do some more video features, hopefully on a more regular basis. Stay tuned, and be sure to subscribe to us on YouTube! In case you missed it, I also posted a video last week featuring some of NLSC THRILLHO’s best moments in NBA 2K17’s 2K Pro-Am. Catch it here if you haven’t seen it yet.

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.

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