Wayback Wednesday

Wayback Wednesday: Recreating Magic & Bird’s NBA Debuts

Moses Malone and Larry Bird in the Ultimate Base Roster for NBA 2K14

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.

On this day in 1979, NBA history was made on opening night. In a 114-106 victory over the Houston Rockets, the Boston Celtics’ Chris Ford made the very first three-pointer in league history with 3:48 remaining in the first quarter. In that same game, the legendary Larry Bird made his professional debut, scoring 14 points to go along with ten rebounds and five assists. Elsewhere, Bird’s rival Magic Johnson also made his NBA debut, scoring 26 points and enjoying a 103-102 victory over the San Diego Clippers, courtesy of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s gamewinning skyhook.

The arrival of Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, along with the debut of Michael Jordan five years later, propelled the NBA into a new golden age. All three legends appeared on separate covers for NBA 2K12, but since I’ve already talked about NBA’s Greatest in a previous Wayback Wednesday feature, I thought I’d do something a little different to mark the occasion. Using HAWK23’s amazing Ultimate Base Roster, I replayed the NBA debuts of Magic Johnson and Larry Bird using NBA 2K14 PC. Could I replicate their numbers and success?

With the help of UBR, let’s take a look back…way back…

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Wayback Wednesday: Finishing The Jordan Challenge (Part 4)

Michael Jordan celebrates title number six in NBA 2K11's Jordan Challenge

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.

Game 6 of the 1998 NBA Finals came down to one final shot by Michael Jordan, so it seems only appropriate that my attempts to go back and finish the Jordan Challenge in NBA 2K11 come down to that same game. The last challenge standing between me and finally finishing the mode (and unlocking MJ: Creating a Legend) all these years later is Michael’s Last Dance, which involves re-creating the performance that clinched MJ’s sixth NBA title.

Now, the outcome of my game probably isn’t going to come down to one final shot, but out of all the games in the Jordan Challenge, this is the one that I expect I’ll need to attempt at least a few times before I complete it. I’ve tried it a few times in the past, and have always come up short on one statistical mark. However, it’s time to give it another try, in order to finally finish the Jordan Challenge. Join me as I re-live Michael’s Last Dance with the Chicago Bulls…most likely more than once.

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Wayback Wednesday: Finishing The Jordan Challenge (Part 3)

Michael Jordan celebrates title number four in NBA 2K11's Jordan Challenge

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.

With only three games left to complete, I’ve almost finished the Jordan Challenge in NBA 2K11. As you’ll know if you’ve caught the first two parts of this series, I haven’t been completing them sequentially. Instead, I’ve been playing through them according to how difficult and frustrating I expect them to be. My goal has been to avoid getting burned out on NBA 2K11 or the Jordan Challenge before I can finish it; to that end, I’ve tried to leave the harder games – or at least, what strikes me as the harder games – until last.

On one hand, mission accomplished, as I’ve been eager to keep playing through the Jordan Challenge even though NBA 2K17 is out now. On the other hand, the time has come to play through those final challenges, if I want to complete the mode. In Part 3, I’m taking on 69 Points (the game against the Cleveland Cavaliers in which MJ scored his career high) and Father’s Day Victory (Game 6 of the 1996 NBA Finals). Read on to find out how they went down.

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Wayback Wednesday: Finishing The Jordan Challenge (Part 2)

Michael Jordan vs. Larry Bird in NBA 2K11's Jordan Challenge

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.

NBA 2K17 is out now, so my retro gaming is temporarily on hold. However, before I got my hands on this year’s release, I did manage to complete another couple of games in NBA 2K11’s Jordan Challenge. I expect that I’ll mostly be playing NBA 2K17 over the next couple of weeks, but my inner completionist is definitely eager to once again pick up NBA 2K11 in the not too distant future, so that I may continue taking care of my unfinished business.

In Part 2 of this feature, I’m tackling the challenges from Michael Jordan’s second year in the league, and second-to-last year with the Chicago Bulls: The Arrival, and The Flu Game. Both contests were defining moments in the career of His Airness, with statistical marks that are tough to match. Needless to say, the eight minute quarters of the Jordan Challenge make them even tougher, especially The Arrival. Join me as I continue my quest to finally complete the Jordan Challenge, and unlock MJ: Creating a Legend without the cheat code!

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Wayback Wednesday: Finishing The Jordan Challenge (Part 1)

Michael Jordan in NBA 2K11's Jordan Challenge

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.

Going back to NBA 2K12 and completing the games of NBA’s Greatest that I never finished has inspired me to revisit NBA 2K11, and take care of some unfinished business in the Jordan Challenge. I’d actually made a couple of attempts to play the Jordan Challenge games before going back to NBA 2K12, but found the gameplay too frustrating. Having spent a little more time with both games and reacquainted myself with the controls – while also avoiding doing the things that only work in more recent NBA 2K titles – I’m finding that I’m far better on the sticks, and the games are less frustrating…for the most part.

When I first bought NBA 2K11, I was still making the transition from NBA Live, and NBA 2K’s controls felt very foreign. As such, I only completed three out of the ten challenges back in the day. Clearing the remaining challenges by hitting all of the necessary statistical marks was beyond my abilities as a relative newcomer to the series, and after some frustrating attempts, I ended up leaving them uncompleted. Now that I have some more experience with the series, and I’ve brushed up on NBA 2K11’s controls, I’m giving the Jordan Challenge another try. In Part 1 of this challenge, I’m attempting The Shrug and the 1991 NBA Finals.

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Wayback Wednesday: Courtside Comedy in NBA Live 2003

Rasheed Wallace argues with a referee in NBA Live 2003

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.

Our (belated) 20th Anniversary of NBA Live content is on-going, and next up will be a retrospective of NBA Live 2003. Before we get to that, however, I wanted to profile one of the game’s most notorious features: its “Courtside Comedy” cutscenes. On top of gameplay that wasn’t quite as sim as most basketball gamers would’ve liked, NBA Live 2003 also took a more light-hearted approach to its atmosphere, with several cutscenes involving players joking around and goofing off.

While the comedic cutscenes weren’t universally disliked, I think it’s fair to say that most gamers were not sorry to see them gone in NBA Live 2004. For my part, I can see the humour, and I do have a certain amount of nostalgia for the sheer oddity of them, but they definitely didn’t create the atmosphere that I wanted for NBA Live. Nevertheless, they are fun to look back on, especially because some of them could be truly ridiculous. Ahead of my detailed retrospective of NBA Live 2003, here are some of the most memorable courtside comedy cutscenes.

Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Wayback Wednesday: NBA’s Greatest in NBA 2K12

NBA's Greatest Menu in 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.

I’ve been watching some classic NBA games recently, and it got me in the mood to play with some retro teams in NBA 2K. I can do that in NBA 2K16 of course, but only NBA 2K11 and NBA 2K12 have dedicated modes for the historic squads, namely the Jordan Challenge and NBA’s Greatest respectively. After catching Michael Jordan’s 63 point game against Larry Bird’s Boston Celtics, I originally opted for NBA 2K11, with an eye towards finishing the Jordan Challenge games I never completed. When that didn’t go so well, I turned my attention towards NBA 2K12, and my unfinished challenges in NBA’s Greatest.

I’d ultimately complete my unfinished business, clearing all of the remaining challenges over the weekend. I found myself having a lot of fun, and the experience certainly made me appreciate NBA’s Greatest all over again. In fact, it had me wishing that we still had some sort of mode for the classic teams in the newer games. Since I’ve finally completed all fifteen games and unlocked all of the included retro teams at long last, it only made sense to profile NBA’s Greatest for this week’s Wayback Wednesday feature.

Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Wayback Wednesday: NBA Live 95 Nintendo Power Articles

Anfernee Hardaway in NBA Live 95

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 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.

Beyond retrospective articles and videos – and of course, actually dusting off retro video games to play them – there’s another way for us gamers to get a nostalgia hit: old magazines and articles. To this day, I regret throwing out my entire collection of Nintendo Magazine System mags, as there are times when I’d love to look back on them and reminisce. With basketball video games coming as far as they have, it’s interesting to look back on old reviews and previews to see the things that once excited us, as they often seem mundane many years later.

Recently, Arcane stumbled across a couple of Nintendo Power articles on NBA Live 95, the first game in the NBA Live series and a title that’s widely considered to be a classic. For this week’s Wayback Wednesday, I thought I’d share them with everyone, and offer up a few thoughts on their contents. So, let’s take a look back…way back…

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Wayback Wednesday: Larry Bird in NBA Jam Tournament Edition

Larry Bird on the Boston Celtics 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 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.

The NBA Jam series is famous for its inclusion of secret players. From Will Smith in his Fresh Prince persona, to Mortal Kombat characters – excuse me, “kharacters” – Scorpion and Sub-Zero, a lot of special guests have hit the virtual hardwood for high-flying, arcade basketball action. Joining the cast of public figures, Midway developers, and NBA mascots in NBA Jam Tournament Edition was Boston Celtics great, Larry Bird.

Along with Hall of Famer Carol Blazejowski, Larry Legend is the only real former professional basketball player that is hidden and playable in NBA Jam TE. It’s actually something that I wasn’t aware of when I first got into the game all those years ago, as I never encountered him as an opponent after beating all of the NBA teams and seeing secret characters randomly appear as opponents. It wasn’t until my family got the Internet and I was able to look up some codes for the PC version that I discovered he was in the game, and playable. He’s also in the Super Nintendo version, though I wasn’t aware of that particular code, either.

Since tomorrow will be the 24th anniversary of his retirement from the NBA, I thought I’d reflect on Larry Bird’s presence in NBA Jam Tournament Edition. So, let’s take a look back…way back…

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Wayback Wednesday: Team USA Basketball (SEGA Genesis)

Team USA Basketball for the SEGA Genesis

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 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.

Whenever I’m deciding on what I want to talk about for Wayback Wednesday, it’s generally either a game I’ve been meaning to review or discuss for some time, or a topic that’s somehow related to the date or a current event. With the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro underway, and Team USA seeking another gold medal in basketball, it seems like as good a time as any to talk about Team USA Basketball for the SEGA Genesis.

For those who have never heard of it, Team USA Basketball is actually a spinoff of the NBA Playoffs series – EA’s forerunner to NBA Live – and was the first game to feature the legendary Dream Team, long before NBA 2K13. Released exclusively for the SEGA Genesis in 1992, it’s obviously very primitive compared to its successors, but what was it like, and how does it hold up today? I offer up my thoughts on this arguably lesser known EA basketball game, in a new video retrospective.

Let’s take a look back…way back…

Check it out here on our YouTube channel if you can’t see the embedded video. As I’ve said before, while I can’t always find the time to work on them, I do enjoy making video retrospectives, so hopefully you enjoyed watching it as well! Be sure to check in each and every Wednesday for more videos, articles, and other retro basketball video gaming content!

Wayback Wednesday: The 50s All-Stars in NBA Live 2000

50s All-Stars in 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 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.

On this day in 1949, the Basketball Association of America merged with the National Basketball League to form what is now known as the National Basketball Association. While the NBA has gone from strength to strength in the decades that have followed, it often pays tribute to its heritage, from throwback jerseys to naming the 50 Greatest NBA Players of All-Time in 1997. Of course, the players from those early years are made known to younger NBA fans not only through documentaries and old highlights, but also basketball video games. Some seventeen years ago, those early stars appeared as the 50s All-Stars in NBA Live 2000.

Seeing as how I grew up watching the NBA in the 90s, I must admit that I was more excited about the 90s All-Stars, in particular the addition of Michael Jordan, who was making his first official appearance in an NBA Live game. I also had an appreciation for the players who were big in the 80s, as there was a fair amount of overlap with the 90s in that regard. Nevertheless, it was cool to see the 50s, 60s, and 70s also represented in NBA Live 2000 by the best players of those eras; well, most of them, anyway. Since it’s the anniversary of the BAA-NBL merger, I thought I’d spotlight the 50s All-Stars team.

Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Wayback Wednesday: Michael Jordan in NBA 2K11

Michael Jordan in NBA 2K11

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 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.

Michael Jordan is the greatest player in the history of basketball. There, that’s a suitably controversial statement to open an article with, these days. For a long time, that was an acceptable assertion to make, but now it seems you’re a bitter old hater if you dare to suggest that there are arguments in favour of teams and players from older eras being superior. Well, contrary to some of the comments that I’ve read on YouTube lately, I would disagree that LeBron James is “clearly better than Michael Jordan”, and that the upcoming season will establish that “fact” once and for all. That’s not a knock on LeBron, by the way; MJ just happened to be pretty good.

Anyway, that’s a debate for another time. At the very least, most fans and analysts would agree that Michael Jordan is one of the best players we’ve ever seen, and one of the most significant and influential people in the history of basketball. During his career, he dazzled fans with his play, and his combination of highlights and success on the hardwood in turn sold a lot of merchandise. In retirement, his brand has remained just as strong. It’s no surprise that Visual Concepts made him the first retired player to appear on the cover of their game, when he became the face of NBA 2K11.

Michael Jordan’s appearance in NBA 2K11 was certainly a big deal, and definitely worth reflecting upon. So, let’s take a look back…way back…

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Wayback Wednesday: Yao Ming in Basketball Video Games

Yao Ming in NBA 2K16

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.

On this day in 2011, Hall of Famer Yao Ming announced his retirement from the Houston Rockets and the NBA. It brought an end to a career that was unfortunately marred by injuries, but was nevertheless successful, and marvellous to watch. While he wasn’t the first player over 7’3″ to find a home and make a legitimate contribution in the NBA, he remains the only one to achieve true superstar status. Only Rik Smits comes close, and that comparison still greatly favours Yao, to say the least. On the court, he was so much more than just an attraction, an oddity, or another very tall player.

Just as Yao Ming was a star on the court, so too did his digital counterpart find success on the virtual hardwood. Yao was a handy player to have in a Dynasty or Association game, with his combination of height and skill making him a very formidable opponent in the paint. Since it’s the anniversary of his retirement, I thought I’d take a look back at Yao Ming’s history in basketball video games, offering up a few tidbits about his virtual counterpart, and providing a few screenshots through the years.

Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Wayback Wednesday: Yinka Dare Dominates NBA Jam TE

Yinka Dare's Ratings in NBA Jam Tournament Edition on PC

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 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.

Today, I present you with a game of NBA Jam Tournament Edition on PC, featuring Yinka Dare. Now, NBA Jam TE is one of my all-time favourite basketball video games, and in my opinion, one of the best arcade hoops games ever made. Conversely, and with all due respect, the late Yinka Dare’s ranking among NBA alumni isn’t quite as stellar. As I’ve mentioned before, his ratings in the PC version of NBA Jam TE are some of the most insulting you’ll ever find in a basketball video game, having been severely nerfed from the Super Nintendo version. Outside of his Dunking, Blocking, and Power ratings, there isn’t a lot to work with.

However, despite ratings that are mostly made up of ones and zeroes, it’s possible to dominate with Yinka Dare in NBA Jam TE. In fact, not even a Clutch rating of zero can prevent Dare from getting the job done in crunch time! Don’t believe me? Well, let’s take a look back…way back…

Check it out here on our YouTube channel if you can’t see the embedded video. While it’s a little easier to accomplish feats like this in arcade basketball games, even in sim titles it can be a lot of fun to have big games with players whose ratings shouldn’t normally allow it. In that respect, it’s kind of like watching an unlikely player erupt for 50 points in real life. In any case, I hope you enjoyed the video; be sure to check in each and every Wednesday for more videos, retrospectives, stuff from the archives, and other Wayback content!

Wayback Wednesday: Free Agency in NBA Live 2004

Jason Kidd dribbles 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 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.

The first couple of weeks of free agency tend to be the most exciting part of the offseason. Twenty years ago, Shaquille O’Neal departed the Orlando Magic for the Los Angeles Lakers, signing one of the first $100 million dollar contracts. Six years ago, it was LeBron James’ turn to shock the basketball world, when he took his talents to South Beach. Just this week, Kevin Durant has just stirred up a mix of excitement and controversy with his announcement that he’ll join the Golden State Warriors. Of course, we’ve been able to make our own shocking signings in video games since Franchise Mode in NBA Live 2000, which became Dynasty Mode in NBA Live 2004.

Speaking of NBA Live 2004’s Dynasty Mode, it featured a couple of quirks when it came to free agency. While the mode added some nifty features that its predecessor lacked, it was afflicted by a couple of issues that did detract from the experience…or enhanced it, depending on how much you cared about realism and challenge. Thankfully, those issues were resolved in NBA Live 2005, but while we were all still playing NBA Live 2004, they were something that Dynasty gamers would consistently encounter.

Which issues am I referring to? Well, let’s take a look back…way back…

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