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 best names I’ve come across while playing 2K Pro-Am in NBA 2K17.
I’ll be honest with you, fellow basketball gamers. A couple of things made me grumble today, and I was all ready to scathingly vent about them in this week’s Friday Five, since I didn’t already have a column prepared. However, I decided that I didn’t want to do that. It’s not because I’m afraid to share my opinions, or reluctant to stand by them. No, I simply decided that I’d grumbled enough over matters that are very trivial compared to other things that are going on in the world right now, and felt it would be better to write something more positive. Venting can be cathartic and I like covering more serious topics, but there’s a time and place for lighter discussion, too.
So, I read through my list of topic ideas, and came across one that I’d previously done a little preparation for: the five best 2K Pro-Am team names that I’ve encountered in NBA 2K17. As you may know, the official NLSC squad’s name is THRILLHO, which is a reference to a classic episode of The Simpsons. We’ve often wondered if our opponents get a kick out of seeing the name, especially given some of the dornas Arcane has created for our arena. There have definitely been a couple of team names that made us chuckle; some are quite creative, some are witty references, and a few have found a way around the profanity filter. However, these five are my favourites.
1. The Nelsons
That probably sounds like a rather mundane team name, and therefore a strange choice, but let me explain. I’m not sure if this 2K Pro-Am team was actually making a Simpsons reference, and naming their squad after Nelson Muntz. They hadn’t yet hit the Elite level when we faced them, so they were using one of the customisable default logos, which didn’t exactly give out any clues in that regard. In all fairness, it could have been referencing one of squad members, someone they knew, a place, a historical figure, or even the professional wrestling hold. Given that The Simpsons is very popular in Australia though, Nelson Muntz seems like a good bet.
In any event, we certainly chose to take it as a reference to Nelson Muntz. After all, we encountered The Nelsons not long after we officially changed our team’s name to THRILLHO. It seemed only appropriate, given the…let’s say, antagonistic relationship between Milhouse van Houten and Nelson on the show. Maybe it was a tribute to Springfield’s resident vest-wearing bully, maybe it wasn’t. Whatever their intention or inspiration, it ended up being a good fit with our Milhouse-themed moniker. It certainly made us say “Haw-Haw!” in the party chat.
2. When Will We Win
Whether you’re off to a rough start after creating your 2K Pro-Am team, or you’re on a bit of a losing streak (as NLSC THRILLHO has experienced from time to time), you may find yourself asking “When will we win?” This team’s name asks that question right out of the gate, though it should be noted that they did already have a winning record when we faced them for the first time. Of course, that raises a few questions. Did they get off to a bad start and change their name out of frustration? Did they change their name in the midst of a losing streak? Are they just messing with everyone else’s minds with a wacky name?
Either way, I enjoy the low-key snark and self-deprecation of a name like that. It gives the impression of a 2K Pro-Am squad that does want to compete and try to win, but also isn’t taking themselves too seriously, so they’ve gone for a funny name. That’s basically been our philosophy with 2K Pro-Am, and the reason behind calling ourselves NLSC THRILLHO. Also, their logo was a dinosaur, which has absolutely no apparent context or relevance. Randomness is an overused device in comedy, but when it’s used properly, it can work to great effect. In this case, the choice is so random and absurd – or so it seems, anyway – I can’t help but find it amusing.
3. The Bunnings Snags
Alright, I’m going to have to explain the background for this one. Bunnings Warehouse is the largest chain of hardware stores here in Australia, and most people simply just refer to it as Bunnings. “Snags” is a slang word for sausages, especially beef and pork sausages that are being cooked on a barbecue. Most of the Bunnings stores have barbecue facilities that community and charitable groups can hire, in order to raise money by selling sausage sandwiches. Although the tradition of the sausage sizzle didn’t start with Bunnings, it’s come to be associated with the brand, and part of the shopping experience at their stores.
With that out of the way…as you can see, we came across a 2K Pro-Am team that named themselves The Bunnings Snags. Knowing the origins of the reference, and the fact that the team might as well be called The Sausages, I couldn’t help but crack a grin when I saw that. I don’t recall playing them again, so it’s possible that they disbanded or rebranded, but if they’re still out there, I hope they reached the Elite tier long enough to add a custom logo. This “Bunnings Snaghouse” t-shirt design – also referencing The Simpsons – immediately springs to mind as an ideal candidate.
4. Woody’s Round-Up
From Simpsons references to Toy Story references. I was eleven years old when the original Toy Story came out, and it ranks up there as one of my favourite childhood movies (though as with a lot of Pixar’s films, there’s plenty in there for adults as well). Toy Story 2 revealed that Woody the Cowboy was a collector’s item, and that the character had once been the star of his own in-universe show called “Woody’s Round-up”, which became the namesake of this 2K Pro-Am team. There’s no ambiguity in this reference, as the colours of the customised logos match Woody’s red, yellow, and blue attire.
Choosing it as the name for a 2K Pro-Am team is pretty funny in the first place, but I think it’s the customised logo that I enjoy the most. Woody’s character is cheerful, wholesome, and family-friendly. That logo, even with the bright colour scheme, is dark, glaring, and badass. I feel the sinister glowing red eyes in particular are a nice touch. It’s the gritty reboot of Toy Story we’ve all been waiting for, in the vein of The Dark Knight Trilogy! Alternatively, they’re taking their cues from the Minnesota Timberwolves, whose original wolf logo would go on to be replaced by a much fiercer one.
5. The North
Speaking of wolves, that brings us to the final 2K Pro-Am team on the list: The North. This one is unmistakably a reference to Game of Thrones (or alternatively the original book series, A Song of Ice and Fire). The team’s location is Westeros. The logo is a snarling wolf; in this case, a direwolf. Their dark colour scheme is reminiscent of The Night’s Watch, whose distinctive outfits inspired the in-universe euphemism of “taking the black”, as well as their pejorative name of “crows”. Given that Game of Thrones has become one of my all-time favourite television shows, I obviously approve.
Beyond the fact that I’m a big fan of the show being referenced, I also admire the commitment to the branding. The name is distinctive, and more creative than something like Dragons or Direwolves. I certainly give it more credit than names that are clearly kids finding a way around the profanity filter. The logo is well-chosen with black being a classic look, and a good fit given the circumstances. I can only hope that somewhere out there, there’s a 2K Pro-Am team called Hodor, located in Hodor, with “Hodor” all over their court. Or maybe “Hodel” would be more appropriate…you know, from “Hold This L” instead of “Hold the door”? Uh, spoilers…
Keep in mind that I’ve mostly been playing on the Australian/Asia-Pacific server, so I’m sure that there are many other teams with great names that I simply haven’t encountered. On top of that, I’m naturally biased towards names that fit my sense of humour, or reference pop culture that I’m a fan of. Have you come across any clever or funny names in 2K Pro-Am? Let me know in the comments section below, and as always, feel free to take the discussion to the NLSC Forum! That’s all for this week, so thanks for checking in, have a great weekend, and please join me again next Friday for another Five.