The Soapbox is a feature where NLSC community members can let their voices be heard on a range of topics related to basketball and basketball video games, through feature articles here on the main site. Today’s guest contributor is Kenny.
I always find it interesting how NBA video games are able to alter my perceptions. There are often songs within the soundtracks that I end up liking, despite my best efforts not to, and the same thing can happen with NBA players. While I generally like my favourite NBA players due to their performances in real life, NBA video games have also influenced me, because of the positive in-game moments I associate with particular players.
This is a list of five players that I have come to like purely because of my experience in the NBA video games I have played.
Michael Curry – NBA Live 98
My video game fandom for Michael Curry was probably the most accidental out of everyone on this list. Without features like MyPlayer, Dynasty/Association or MyLeague, I felt obligated to use more game modes in NBA Live 98. So I often found myself playing the Three Point Shootout mode.
In the Three Point Shootout mode, one of my recurring selections was Dell Curry (AKA Steph’s dad). Like his son, he was an elite shooter, so he seemed like a solid pick. One day, I decided to scroll to the player below him, which happened to be Michael Curry. Michael’s three point rating was average at best, but I decided to choose him to make things a little more interesting.
Little did I know that Michael Curry would go on to be the first player I ever scored a perfect 30 with. Not only did it defy his three point rating in the game, but it was particularly odd when you consider that he only had a three point percentage of 29.8 percent in his actual career.
After the Perfect 30, Michael Curry became a fixture within my NBA Live 98 GM Modes. Even though he ended up being a one-hit-wonder, he still remains to be one of my favourite players from NBA Live 98.
Andrei Kirilenko – NBA Live 06
After spending a long time not following the NBA, I picked up a copy of NBA Live 06 for my PC. At the time, one of the trades I made was Carmelo Anthony for Andrei Kirilenko. It may sound like a ridiculous trade by today’s standards, but the video game version of Kirilenko was almost the ultimate player on both ends of the court. He blocked shots, rebounded, stole the ball, finished fast breaks and even had pretty decent range.
Kirilenko is now a player I often acquire in my dynasties and associations. In fact, as well as my initial experience with AK47 in NBA Live 06, I acquired him in both my NBA Live 10 Nuggets dynasty and my NBA 2K13 Cavaliers association. And if I’m being perfectly honest, I haven’t ruled him out for my NBA 2k15 Nuggets association either. He may not be the player he was in NBA Live 06, but for some reason, I get great joy out of seeing Andrei Kirilenko on my bench.
Shaun Livingston – NBA Live 08
Much like Andrei Kirilenko, the first time I really paid attention to Shaun Livingston was in NBA Live 06, where he was a participant in the Rookie Challenge. Being a tall point guard with a big afro, he automatically stood out to me and he was always such a match up problem. But I didn’t become a fan of Livingston until NBA Live 08.
My housemate and I constantly started dynasties using the fantasy draft. It was a fun way to discuss how teams should be made up and which players best suited our systems. During the 7th or 8th round on one of our attempts, we were on the clock as the Seattle Supersonics and I saw that Livingston was still on the board. I said something along the lines of “oh, choose Livingston! He has cool hair!”
Ever since then, the “Livingston method” of scouting has become a part of my thought process, because Shaun Livingston turned out to be a hell of a player. With his height, he was a constant triple-double threat and he ended up taking Mike Conley’s place as the starting point guard of my franchise.
Of course, the rise of Livingston in NBA Live 08 didn’t match up with his real life counterpart. In fact, he missed the entire 07-08 season (the first season of NBA Live 08) because of that horrific injury he suffered in the previous season. Instead of shutting him down and playing along with the real life scenario, I took it upon myself to make sure Livingston lived up to his potential. The result was some of the most fun I’ve had playing Dynasty mode.
To this day, I still find myself rooting for him. Partly because of his determination to get back on the court, but mostly because he was such a beast in NBA Live 08.
J.R. Smith – NBA Live 10
J.R. Smith is easily the most contentious name on this list. His antics, both on and off the court, have made me cringe numerous times. He was even described once as a player who embodies both everything good and bad about the game of basketball. However, when you take away his propensity for moronic behaviour, he is one fun basketball player to control.
In NBA Live 10, I completed many alley-oops, pulled off 360 dunks and even won MVP trophies with J.R. Smith. The overachieving I did with Smith in the game often made me ponder what his ceiling could be if he just wasn’t such a headcase. I guess we will never know.
Tristan Thompson – NBA 2K13
For NBA 2K13, I was tempted to list Kwame Brown because of the amount of fun I had controlling him in Creating a Legend. However, Kwame didn’t really fall into the criteria of this list because I actually liked him before I started the Creating a Legend campaign (albeit ironically). Tristan Thompson, on the otherhand, was basically an unknown entity to me.
I always had an interest in the Cavs post-LeBron, because they were a team that had to develop a new identity, and a blank slate is always an attractive option for a dynasty or association. Aside from Kyrie Irving – who I still claim as an Australian – I didn’t know a whole lot about the team going into my 2k13 dynasty, simply because I didn’t see many Cleveland games once LeBron left.
Even though I did most of my scoring with Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters, Tristan Thompson stood out to me because he was the effort guy. He wasn’t flashy, but he was the type of player I always want on my team. He got rebounds, played great defense and was a double-double threat on a nightly basis.
Tristan Thompson may have been picked a few spots higher than he should have, but it could have been worse. After all, Jan Vesely was the 6th pick of the same draft. Unlike Jan, Thompson has developed into a nice role player and because of my experiences in NBA 2K13, he’s probably my second favourite player on the Cavaliers at the moment – just behind Matthew Dellavedova.
Honorable Mentions: Terrell Brandon (NBA Live 98), Popeye Jones (NBA Inside Drive 2000), Josh Childress (NBA Live 06), Michael Beasley (NBA Live 10), Derrick Williams (NBA 2K15).
Are any of these players on your list? Which players do you like because of basketball video games?