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Monday Tip-Off: Do We Take Basketball Gaming Too Seriously?

Monday Tip-Off: Do We Take Basketball Gaming Too Seriously?

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 by reflecting on a rather pertinent question: do we take basketball gaming too seriously?

The Dark Knight may be twelve years old at this point, but Heath Ledger’s portrayal of The Joker still resonates with many avid fans of Batman movies and comics. A number of lines from that film have penetrated pop culture, from Alfred’s speech about some men just wanting to watch the world burn – a favourite of so many edgelord trolls who fancy themselves Machiavellian puppet masters – to the Joker’s wry and sinister quips. One that comes up a lot, especially out of context when someone happens to utter the words, is “Why so serious?

As such, even all these years later, it’s difficult to pose a question about taking something too seriously without that scene coming to mind, or someone quoting it in response. It’s also admittedly an odd question to pose on a fansite that’s dedicated to a hobby. After all, we’re all about basketball gaming, so we obviously approach the matter with a certain amount of dedication and emphasis on its significance. “It’s only basketball gaming” feels like an out of place rationale and reprimand in a community of virtual hoops enthusiasts. Of course, it always pays to keep matters in perspective. To that point though, have we lost that perspective over the years?

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Wayback Wednesday: The Instant Replay “Cheat” in Old Games

Wayback Wednesday: The Instant Replay "Cheat" in Old Games

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 “cheat” that was possible using instant replay in old basketball video games.

I’ve said it so often in these Wayback Wednesday features that I’m sure it’s starting to sound trite, but basketball video games have come a long way since I first got into them. There are older titles that still hold up quite well and are fun to revisit, but even then, technology has allowed their successors to implement graphics and features that definitely weren’t possible all those years ago. To that end, old hoops titles have a few quirks that tend not to be found in modern games. Some of those quirks can be quite amusing to look back on.

That’s not to say that we didn’t recognise them as being quirky at the time, of course. They were the things that we noted in both amusement and frustration, and talked about when we compiled our Wishlists. Over the years they’ve become somewhat nostalgic, although we’re not exactly clamouring to see them return. One of those quirks was an instant replay glitch that was often listed in the Cheats sections of gaming magazines and websites alike. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: Virtual Hooping With Non-Fans

Monday Tip-Off: Virtual Hooping With Non-Fans

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 virtual hooping with and against people who aren’t big fans of basketball.

As our community is obviously made up of people who are big fans of both real and virtual basketball, we don’t really look at hoops gaming from the point of view of people who aren’t into the sport. After all, basketball and sports games in general are – to some extent – aimed at a very specific crowd. Sim titles in particular are intended for the avid fans that are more likely to want a realistic depiction of the sport. That’s not to say they can’t be for everyone – I’m not a fan of gatekeeping – but their focus on authenticity and minute details generally appeals to the more hardcore hoop-heads.

That means despite their success and popularity, basketball games and other sports titles are still somewhat niche. To put it another way, many of us basketball gamers will also play games like Fallout, Call of Duty, Grand Theft Auto, Mario, Zelda, Mass Effect, and so on, but a majority of the gamers who play those titles aren’t necessarily interested in virtual hooping, or fans of real basketball for that matter. If anything, they’re more likely to enjoy an arcade title like NBA Jam as it’s easier to pick up and play, and has a broader appeal. Some non-fans will dabble with the sim titles as well though, and virtual hooping with them is often an interesting experience.

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The Friday Five: 5 Basketball Gaming Shower Thoughts

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 shower thoughts I’ve had about basketball gaming.

Contrary to what you might believe, I don’t think about basketball gaming 24/7. It’s obviously a passion of mine – I wouldn’t have been running the NLSC for 19 years and counting if it wasn’t – but I do have other interests and hobbies. It is something that is on my mind fairly regularly though, either when I’m playing a game, or creating content for the NLSC. A thought will stroll into my head – sometimes related to what I’m doing, sometimes out of the blue – and I’ll wonder how it didn’t occur to me before then.

For those unfamiliar with the term, “shower thoughts” are ideas or epiphanies that occur to us while doing mundane activities such as taking a shower (which is where the term originates), or carrying out some chore. They’re not all profound pearls of wisdom; indeed, if you go looking for shower thoughts on Reddit or elsewhere that they’re collected, you’ll find a lot of puns and folksy observations. To that end, I can’t promise that these basketball gaming shower thoughts – a couple of which did in fact come about in the shower – will be profound and mind-blowing. Hopefully they’ll at least be amusing or interesting talking points, though.

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The Friday Five: 5 Retro Purchases That Didn’t Pan Out

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 five retro purchases that didn’t pan out the way that I was hoping.

When I was a young basketball gamer, my parents didn’t quite understand the concept of annual releases. I remember buying NBA Live 97, and my father saying something along the lines of “OK, you don’t need any more basketball games.” It’s funny to look back on now considering how much my collection has grown since then, to the point where acquiring basketball games is as much my hobby as playing them. Given that I’m a content creator, they’re also an investment that helps out with that venture, but I also enjoy searching for bargains and adding some obscure or difficult to find titles.

Expanding my collection beyond the games I bought and played when they were new has allowed me to experience some titles that I missed the first time around. As I’ve said before, some are good, and some are bad. Some I wish I played more of when they were new, and some I can safely say I was right to avoid. Either way, I don’t regret my retro purchases because I enjoy collecting, and checking them out not only creates material for Wayback Wednesday but is also a fun adventure. Unfortunately, not all of my retro purchases have panned out. It’s the risk you take when you hunt down second hand titles, but fortunately none of these busts have broken the bank.

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The Friday Five: 5 Pettiest Moments in Basketball Gaming

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 lists some of the pettiest moments we’ve seen in basketball gaming.

Is it fair to say that some of the most talented and creative people are also among the pettiest? As someone who grew up reading Roald Dahl’s books, such as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Danny, Champion of the World, The Twits, and other classics, I’d have to say yes. Comparing the stories to Dahl’s autobiographical works, Boy and Going Solo, it’s obvious that he based many of his villains on people that he’d met and didn’t care for. In Danny, Champion of the World, he flat out named Danny’s abusive teacher after one of his own schoolmasters whom he loathed (I’d say quite rightfully).

With that in mind, it’s probably fair to say that spite is a driving influence in a lot of people’s creative process. The amount of recording artists who have released songs written about an ex – famous or otherwise – also stands as a good example here. As a creative medium in which there’s competition, video games likewise invite some petty potshots and snarky slams. With there once being a heated rivalry between NBA Live and NBA 2K, both EA Sports and Visual Concepts have been guilty of pettiness. On the other hand, pettiness has also resulted in some amusing Easter eggs and design choices. Without further ado, here are five of the pettiest moments in virtual hoops!

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Wayback Wednesday: Familiar Faces Back in Familiar Places (Part 2)

Wayback Wednesday: Familiar Faces Back in Familiar Places (Part 2)

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 ten more familiar faces who found themselves back in familiar places.

Just as there are have been several familiar faces that ended up in strange places, there are more familiar faces who made it back to familiar places than I can possibly fit into just one list of ten! To that end, I’m also making this spinoff topic an ongoing series for Wayback Wednesday. As I previously noted, these homecomings can be just as interesting as the strange stints of well-known players, as they can also end up flying under the radar and being forgotten due to being unremarkable returns. In other cases, it’s the original stint with a team that is overlooked.

Either way, they’re fun to look back on. We can obviously do that by going back and watching old games, but it’s also possible to revisit these tenures through the virtual hardwood. I’ve grown quite fond of referring to basketball video games as interactive almanacs and time capsules to the point where I’m probably overusing the expression. It is quite apt though, and with that in mind, I’m using video games to demonstrate these examples of familiar faces back in familiar places. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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The Friday Five: 5 Nifty Features That Weren’t Advertised

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 nifty features that weren’t advertised, and we had to discover on our own.

Over the years, the preview season has grown shorter and less exciting. I’ll admit that for my part, there’s a certain amount of cynicism that’s inevitable after covering hoops games for so many years. Features and entire games that didn’t live up to the hype do leave one jaded, or at the very least, taking every preview with a grain of salt. On top of that, with only one game guaranteed to come out every year, we’ve lost that back and forth, those attempts at one-upmanship coming out of EA Sports and 2K Sports. Indeed, the preview season has been reduced to a handful of blogs close to launch.

Hopefully, the previews for the Next Gen version of NBA 2K21 will shake things up. It’s the version that’s received the most attention after all, whereas the Current Gen release was outsourced to another studio. Of course, it doesn’t hurt when a few things are left for us to discover. Indeed, even when the preview season felt longer and more exciting, developers wouldn’t go into absolutely every detail about the games. There were always a few nifty things that didn’t make the previews, or the list of features on the back of the box. It’d be nice to discover a few gems in the newly released Current Gen version of NBA 2K21, though; gems such as these nifty features in past games.

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The Friday Five: 5 Times Games Received Surprising Updates

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 lists five times that basketball games received surprising updates.

These days, basketball games receive more updates than ever before. Official patches are more frequent and numerous. Content updates, from current rosters and new player faces, to MyPLAYER clothing and MyTEAM challenges and cards, are also pushed through all season long. At some point however, these updates will cease. Developers have to move on to next year’s title after all, and there’s only so much that can be addressed in patches. New content beyond the NBA Finals, and certainly for a game that’s over a year old, is quite rare.

It’s not unprecedented, however. There are extenuating circumstances, such as when the cancellation of NBA Elite 11 resulted in NBA Live 10 being updated for the 2011 season. On top of that, there are times when video games receive content that we simply wouldn’t expect because it doesn’t seem feasible due to technical or licensing limitations. It’s a nice surprise when a title does receive new content or a fix that seemed unlikely, though at the same time, it’s difficult not to approach some of these unexpected updates with a certain amount of cynicism. Nevertheless, here are five times that games received updates that were surprising for one reason or another.

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Wayback Wednesday: Familiar Faces in Strange Places (Part 4)

Wayback Wednesday: Familiar Faces in Strange Places (Part 4)

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 yet more NBA players who became familiar faces in strange places, and those stints in video games.

Just when you thought I was done talking about familiar faces in strange places, here is part four in an ongoing series of Wayback Wednesday articles! Not all of these players are Hall of Famers or even perennial All-Stars, but they are nevertheless significant and recognisable, thereby qualifying as familiar faces. They’re also players that we grew accustomed to seeing play for one or two teams in particular, so the strange places they ended up in do make for a jarring sight, both in real life and on the virtual hardwood.

Once again, I’m looking at these familiar faces in strange places through the lens of basketball video games, in part because that’s obviously what we cover here at the NLSC, but also because it emphasises how games like NBA Live and NBA 2K in particular act as time capsules and interactive almanacs. From past champions and the glory days of the game’s brightest stars, to the forgotten and overlooked stints I’m recalling here, those memories come flooding back upon firing up old favourites. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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The Friday Five: 5 Cancelled Games (Other Than NBA Elite 11)

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, other than the infamous NBA Elite 11, that were cancelled.

If we’re talking about cancelled basketball games, then NBA Elite 11 is obviously one that springs immediately to mind. I’m sure that everyone knows that story, but the short version is that the demo was poorly received and widely mocked due to both gameplay issues and the infamous “Jesus Bynum” T-pose bug. This led to the full version being pulled five days before release so that it could receive further polish, with the delay eventually becoming cancellation. It’s a disaster that’s set the NBA Live series back years, and while it’s a significant event, it’s also a very familiar tale.

To that end, I thought it’d be more interesting to talk about some cancelled games in a list that doesn’t include the obvious example of NBA Elite 11. That’s not to say that these games are obscure and their stories unknown, but at least a couple of them aren’t talked about all that much. Please note that I’m also excluding the recent examples of NBA Live 17/The Drive to NBA Live, NBA Live 20, and NBA Live 21, as they were either never really officially announced, or there isn’t much to say except EA decided that they weren’t fit to launch. I’d like to think that there are some interesting stories with these other cancelled games though, so let’s take a look!

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The Friday Five: 5 Things Developers Got In Trouble 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 things that the developers of basketball video games found themselves in trouble over.

Something that a lot of basketball gamers don’t seem to understand is that when it comes to licensed titles, developers are under certain restrictions that are imposed by the licenser. Most people understand that certain former players can’t be included because they haven’t granted the use of their likeness, though you’ll get the occasional person who’ll angrily claim that EA Sports or Visual Concepts have “forgotten” about those historical players. The NBA also isn’t really big on modding because of the way it skirts such licensing, which is why we don’t have any official modding tools.

There are plenty of other examples of these restrictions, such as an inability to include unsportsmanlike technical fouls, or fights beyond a bit of post-whistle shoving that’s out of our control. Bottom line, if it’s in NBA Live or NBA 2K, then the NBA itself has given it the green light…usually. There are occasions where developers have tried to sneak something into the games, and subsequently upset the NBA or another license holder in the process. These incidents have usually resulted in a reprimand, but on a couple of occasions, lawsuits have been involved. Here are five things that basketball game developers did that landed them in trouble, if only temporarily.

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Wayback Wednesday: Familiar Faces Back in Familiar Places

Wayback Wednesday: Familiar Faces Back in Familiar Places

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 some examples of familiar faces returning to familiar places, and the games where we see those stints.

In an ongoing Wayback Wednesday series, I’ve been taking a look back at familiar faces in strange places; in other words, well-known players and their stints with teams that are less talked about and usually weird to see, and the video games where those stints were represented. This week, I’m inverting the idea and taking a look back at familiar faces back in familiar places; in other words, well-known players who made a return to a team they’re most closely associated with, after leaving to play elsewhere in the NBA.

On the surface, this may not seem as interesting as seeing familiar faces in strange places. However, these return stints are interesting in their own right, as they have their own stories. Some of them were brief and essentially retirement tours, while others lasted longer and saw more success. Oddly enough, it can also feel strange to see a player back in an old uniform after we get used to seeing them in a new one. As I like to say, basketball games act as interactive almanacs for these stints of note, so let’s use them to take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: Influencers on the Virtual Hardwood

Monday Tip-Off: Influencers on the Virtual Hardwood

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 influencers in the basketball gaming community, and the influence they wield on the virtual hardwood.

If you take part in basketball gaming Twitter, you’ll recall that not too long ago, Flight publicly rebuffed overtures from Ronnie 2K to be brought into the fold as one of the “official” influencers for NBA 2K. I won’t go into the whole history of everything that happened between Flight and Ronnie, in part because it’s not really my brand, but also because there are others that can tell the story in more detail. The tl;dr version is that Ronnie publicly blackballed Flight from getting a logo, calling him a “bully” over some of his remarks. He’s since changed his tune, but for Flight it’s little, too late.

Look, while I can appreciate brands and digital marketers picking and choosing who they want to work with, and find it understandable if they’re hesitant to collaborate with someone when there’s been some friction, I really have to commend Flight in this situation. The exposure and other perks influencers gain from having agreements with 2K would be tough for most people to turn down; even if it does mean giving up some autonomy in your content. To rebuff Ronnie’s offer that came now that his audience makes him too appealing to blackball shows guts and integrity on Flight’s part. It’s an example that all influencers in the basketball gaming community should follow.

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NLSC Podcast #333: Just Two Creatures of Habit

NLSC Podcast Logo

Episode #333 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! Derek (aka Dee4Three) and I are your hosts for this week’s show.

Would you pay $16,000 for a promotional copy of NBA 2K15? Someone on eBay is hoping that you will! We’ve spent considerably less on recent additions to our collections, which we were excited to pick up. Speaking of collectables, a few copies of Slam City with Scottie Pippen have also popped up on eBay, leading us to reflect on that somewhat forgotten game. Meanwhile, an influx of new gamers in NBA 2K20’s online scene has further emphasised the need to implement proper ranking and matchmaking measures (and inspired another rant). We also discuss what it takes to change our gaming habits on the virtual hardwood, and how some of those habits were formed in the first place.

What’s your take on this week’s conversation? Sound off in the comments section below, or join in the discussion here in the Forum! Additionally, feel free to hit us up with any feedback on the episode, as well as suggestions for topics that you’d like to hear us discuss in future episodes. For more information on the NLSC Podcast including episode guides, check out this page in our Wiki.