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25th Anniversary of NBA Live: NBA Live 98 Retrospective

25th Anniversary of NBA Live: NBA Live 98 Retrospective

To mark the 25th Anniversary of NBA Live, we’re taking a look back at every game in the series with retrospectives and other fun content! This also includes re-running some features from our 20th Anniversary celebrations, with a few revisions. Whether you’re a long-time basketball gamer who grew up with NBA Live and are keen on taking a trip down memory lane, or you’re new to the series and want to learn about its history, we hope that you enjoy celebrating the 25th Anniversary of NBA Live here at the NLSC! Today, it’s a retrospective of NBA Live 98.

In a Friday Five some five years ago, I discussed the five biggest leaps in basketball video games, within the span of one production cycle. While I stand by the choices I made when compiling that countdown, I have to admit that it was a mistake not to at least include NBA Live 98 as an honourable mention. Whenever I dust off the game for a trip down memory lane, I not only recall a lot of the improvements that were made over NBA Live 97, but also that it’s a game I personally underrated for a long time. I never disliked it or thought it was a bad game, but because I didn’t buy the PC version as soon as it came out, I didn’t appreciate how good it was back then.

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25th Anniversary of NBA Live: NBA Live 97 Retrospective

25th Anniversary of NBA Live: NBA Live 97 Retrospective

To mark the 25th Anniversary of NBA Live, we’re taking a look back at every game in the series with retrospectives and other fun content! This also includes re-running some features from our 20th Anniversary celebrations, with a few revisions. Whether you’re a long-time basketball gamer who grew up with NBA Live and are keen on taking a trip down memory lane, or you’re new to the series and want to learn about its history, we hope that you enjoy celebrating the 25th Anniversary of NBA Live here at the NLSC! Today, it’s a retrospective of NBA Live 97.

Depending on which platform you were playing it on, NBA Live 97 was either a step up from NBA Live 96, or more of the same. If you were playing the game on the 16-bit consoles, you’d notice a couple of new features and some new animations, but it was still quite similar to its predecessor. On PC and PlayStation, however, we saw a far more significant improvement. It wasn’t as big of a jump as NBA Showdown to NBA Live 95 was, but it was still noticeable, especially when it came to graphics. Let’s take a look back at the game that described itself as the “soul of hoops”, and proudly announced that it featured Shaq.

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The Friday Five: 5 Players In More Video Games Than NBA Games Played (Part 3)

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 part three in a series on players who have appeared in more video games than real NBA games.

While I enjoy using The Friday Five to analyse topics in five points, rank items in a Top 5 countdown, or offer up some other opinions or commentary, I really enjoy using this feature to share obscure basketball gaming trivia. A topic that I’ve found particularly fascinating to research is the number of players who ended up appearing in more video games than they did actual NBA games. Thanks to early roster cut-off dates and last minute roster cuts before the season tips off, several players have made their virtual hardwood debut without ever playing an official minute in the league.

My research has turned up ten such players, who I talked about in parts one and two of this series. Not only had they managed to be included in video games without ever making it to an official NBA game, but some had appeared in multiple titles despite never making their league debut! I’ve got five more examples for you today, but this list is a little different. All five of these players have played in the NBA, appearing in just one game apiece. However, they’ve ended up in the rosters of more than one video game, meaning that their appearances on the virtual hardwood outnumber their real life career total. Let’s take a look at these one-and-not-quite-done players!

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Wayback Wednesday: Throwback Jerseys in Video Games

Wayback Wednesday: Throwback Jerseys in Video 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 throwback jerseys in basketball video games.

Yes, it’s a throwback article about throwback jerseys; the circle is complete! Just as the real NBA celebrates its history and recognises great teams and players from the past, so too does the virtual hardwood pay tribute to yesteryear. I’ve covered several examples in Wayback Wednesday, from the appearance of retired players as secret characters and the introduction of Legends, to modes such as The Jordan Challenge and NBA’s Greatest. I’ve also mentioned how I enjoy the retro content in Ultimate Team and MyTEAM in some of my other features.

Something that I haven’t touched upon yet is throwback jerseys. They’ve obviously become a big part of basketball culture, as Hardwood Classics jerseys and retro uniforms for current players are fashionable to wear. NBA teams themselves will also celebrate specific eras by wearing throwback jerseys on designated nights. This trend has been around for some time, and it’s come to be represented in NBA video games as well. What is the history of throwback uniforms on the virtual hardwood? Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: A Week Playing in The Rec

Monday Tip-Off: A Week Playing in The Rec

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 recap of a week playing in The Rec in NBA 2K20.

Because I’ve been casually playing a bit of MyCAREER while waiting for the season to start and the rosters to be updated for a MyLEAGUE game, my player has levelled up enough to be viable to play with online. As such, I’ve gone to The Rec a couple of times to see what it’s like this year. Not much has changed in terms of the quality of play or stability of the servers, but it’s had its moments. To that end, I figured if I was able to keep my expectations low, it’d be fun to jump on every once in a while for a change of pace. It’s a way of earning extra VC for MyTEAM packs if nothing else.

That led me to wonder if there were better nights than others to jump into The Rec for a game or two. I recalled that when the NLSC squad was playing multiple sessions of 2K Pro-Am per week in NBA 2K17, some days yielded more enjoyable experiences with good competition, while other days brought frustrating times with opponents who exploited cheesy tactics. I decided that I’d play The Rec every night for a week in order to see which night – if any – was the best to jump on. I was also interested to see how quickly I’d get sick of it, and whether I’d end up too frustrated with the mode to play it any more. What follows is a recap of my week playing in The Rec!

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The Friday Five: 5 Players Who Only Appeared on Certain Teams in Games

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 players who only appeared on certain teams in video games.

I’ve mentioned that one of the fun aspects of revisiting old games for my Wayback Wednesday features is that they’re a snapshot of the NBA at the time. It’s interesting how it can jog your memory when you fire up an old title, see a familiar name, and think “Oh, I forgot he played for them!” For me it happens with a lot of journeyman who I recall from the 90s and early 2000s, and even a couple of stars who had brief stints with unusual teams at the end of their careers. With the way that some players change teams, it can be difficult to immediately find them in older titles.

Of course, the snapshot that games can provide of the NBA of yesteryear isn’t always completely accurate. Older titles had roster cut-off dates and no official updates, so players would end up on teams they were cut or traded from by the time a title was released. Other players might indeed spend time on a team’s roster during the season, but never actually play a single game for them due to injury or other factors, thus only appearing for them on the virtual hardwood. As with the players who have appeared in more video games than NBA games, I find it to be an interesting trivia note. Let’s look at five players whose stints with teams only came on the virtual hardwood!

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Wayback Wednesday: Unused Retro Files in NBA 2K11

Wayback Wednesday: Unused Retro Files 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 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 unused retro files in NBA 2K11.

For as long as we’ve been tinkering with basketball video games and poking around in their files, we’ve been discovering unused assets and leftover data from cut content. It’s always fun to discover such content, speculate on what might have been, and in some cases put those assets to use in mods. Examples include custom coach faces in NBA Live 2004, which would appear to be remnants of a scrapped custom team feature, and the leftover retro team player data in the PC version of NBA Live 08, which hints at the original plans for the game’s bonus content.

The latter example is particularly interesting because of the history of retro content in basketball video games. NBA Live and NBA 2K had both featured Legends and All-Decade teams in some capacity, but it wasn’t until NBA 2K11 that we saw full retro teams as part of The Jordan Challenge. However, digging through the game’s files reveals that even more content may have been planned. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: Revisiting My NBA 2K18 Dunking Issue

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 revisiting my issue with dunking back in NBA 2K18’s MyCAREER.

From the first iteration of MyPLAYER Archetypes to NBA 2K20’s pie charts, player builds have been a contentious aspect of MyCAREER and its connected modes. The approach is intended to balance the game and allow us to create the type of player that best suits us, but in reality, it’s proven to be very restrictive. Only a handful of builds are viable – especially when it comes to online play – and those tend to be noticeably overpowered. Conversely, a lot of the builds that aren’t as viable are often outright broken, and not enjoyable to play with.

I encountered a very strange issue with dunking back in NBA 2K18, playing as a Sharpshooting Playmaker. Despite increasing my ratings, equipping the appropriate animations, and being very familiar with the advanced shooting controls, I was rarely able to get my player to dunk. Hearing that there might be an issue with tendencies for point guards created in The Prelude, I contacted 2K Support. Predictably, they were no help whatsoever. I’ve since made a few observations when creating similar builds in NBA 2K19 and NBA 2K20, and so this week, I’m briefly revisiting NBA 2K18’s MyCAREER to see if I can actually resolve my dunking issue.

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The Friday Five: 5 Ways We Can Be Less Toxic

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 describes five ways that the basketball gaming community can be less toxic towards each other.

Toxic behaviour and video game communities: name a more iconic duo, right? I’ve talked about toxicity in our community before, and the situation hasn’t improved in the past twelve months. That’s not unexpected of course, because unfortunately it’s something that’s rather ingrained in online culture. However, with some of the issues that basketball gaming is facing at the moment, it’s a shame that we can’t all get on the same page more often. We’ve never been in complete agreement and we never will be, but it does feel like we’re more divided these days.

With that being said, there’s no reason that we can’t try to bridge the gap and strive to change the culture. If nothing else, we can set ourselves up to have more positive experiences, and simply avoid some of the more toxic aspects of the hobby. To that end, in addition to pointing out ways that we can be toxic, I’m proposing solutions to make the basketball gaming community a nicer scene. Considering how certain toxic behaviours not only cultivate an unfriendly atmosphere, but actively work against our best interests as consumers, it’s a matter of cutting off our nose to spite our face if we don’t at least try to change the way we think and interact.

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Wayback Wednesday: Players I Remember Because of Video Games (Part 2)

Wayback Wednesday: Players I Remember Because of Video Games (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 some more players that I remember because of video games.

Back in September, I listed ten players that I remember in large part because of basketball video games. I could have easily listed many more, but I didn’t want the article to be too long. I also figured that it was a topic I could revisit from time to time, much as I’ve done with my series of Friday Five articles on retro teams that I’d like to see in NBA 2K. Furthermore, it’s something I enjoyed doing the first time around, as the players we used to play with and against in old basketball games make up a big part of our nostalgia for them.

Although I may also remember these players from watching real games, or collecting basketball trading cards, video games tend to be the main reason that I recall their names and faces. Through playing with and against them on the virtual hardwood, they remain familiar to me all these years later, even though they weren’t NBA All-Stars or future Hall of Famers. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: 2K’s Overlooked Gambling Mechanic

Monday Tip-Off: Overlooked Gambling Mechanic

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 an often overlooked gambling mechanic in NBA 2K.

When rating and reviewing the last few NBA 2K games, a common sentiment is that the core gameplay delivers, the modes are deep and engaging, and there’s a lot of fun to be had, but the recurrent revenue and gambling mechanics are off-putting. In other words, there are a lot great things about NBA 2K on this generation, but there’s also a distinct lack of goodwill and an undeniably predatory business model. Notably, these complaints haven’t yet hurt 2K’s bottom line as sales and recurrent revenue are at an all-time high, though user scores and trust in the brand are considerably down.

There have been several articles, videos, and social media posts discussing the most problematic aspects of current gen NBA 2K. Progression in MyCAREER and a lack of matchmaking online has created a more forceful push towards spending money on VC in order to level up quicker. MyTEAM is arguably more controversial as its packs can be compared to loot boxes, which are widely considered gambling mechanics and thus inappropriate in games rated for minors. Both issues are concerning, but there’s an even more brazen gambling mechanic present in NBA 2K, and for some reason, it never seems to get any attention despite its overt nature.

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The Friday Five: 5 Suspended Players in NBA Video Games

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 players who have appeared in basketball video games after being suspended from the league, either permanently or temporarily.

The Phoenix Suns have won three of their first five games to open the 2020 season. If they’re to keep racking up wins for the foreseeable future, they’ll be doing so without last year’s number one overall pick Deandre Ayton, who was suspended for 25 games after testing positive for a diuretic. Although no other banned substances were found in his system, the use of a potential masking agent nevertheless triggered an automatic ban under the league’s anti-drug policy. The NBPA is currently appealing the ruling, but even if they’re successful, Ayton will likely still miss several games.

That means that he’ll be on the inactive list in forthcoming roster updates for NBA 2K20, but still available in the game. Of course, getting suspended or banned from the NBA doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll be missing from the virtual hardwood. A handful of players have remained active in video games after they were suspended in real life, often in the free agents pool where they can be signed in a franchise game at affordable rates. A noteworthy exception is Chris Andersen, who didn’t appear in any games during his suspension in the mid 2000s. The following five players, however, were not removed after the league prohibited them from playing.

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Wayback Wednesday: EA Sports World

Wayback Wednesday: EA Sports World

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 EA Sports World.

I’ve taken a look back at some very old basketball video games in my Wayback Wednesday features, and it’s impossible not to marvel at how far the genre has come. Of course, even in the last ten years or so, we’ve seen some big leaps and changes. The improvements in graphics and the depth of modes are obvious talking points, but the concepts that became outdated and left behind are also quite interesting. I suppose it can be said of technology in general, but it’s funny to look back at ideas that once seemed revolutionary and the way of the future, but instead quickly became obsolete.

A prime example of that is the subject of this week’s Wayback Wednesday: EA Sports World. Supporting EA Sports’ lineup of titles including NBA Live 09 and NBA Live 10, it was designed as a hub for sharing content and utilising various online features. Today however, it’s long defunct. So, what was EA Sports World, and what happened to it? Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: Why NBA 2K Needs Matchmaking

Monday Tip-Off: Why NBA 2K Needs Matchmaking

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 an outline of why it’s important that future NBA 2K games implement proper matchmaking.

When NBA Live 08 implemented Online Team Play post-release, we were seeing the future of online basketball gaming. Although subsequent NBA Live titles would build upon that first iteration of the concept, it’s ultimately been NBA 2K that has taken the experience to new heights. The idea of creating your own player and joining up with other gamers to play multiplayer games where every player is user-controlled has become the most popular experience in NBA 2K. It’s even led to the founding of a professional eSports league, run in conjunction with the NBA itself.

Given the popularity that online play now enjoys, it’s both puzzling and disappointing that NBA 2K is lacking such a critical component of the experience: matchmaking. It’s kind of implemented in that there’s a rep system (albeit one that’s problematic), position logic behind teaming up players in the Rec Center, and a rough ranking system in team Pro-Am. However, it’s nowhere near as deep or effective as it needs to be, and in the case of The Playground, it’s completely non-existent. Simply put, if NBA 2K is going to cater to its large paying audience and establish a respectable competitive scene, it needs to have proper matchmaking.

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The Friday Five: 5 False Memories 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 is a list of five examples of false memories we have of basketball games, and how they came about.

False memories are recollections of something that didn’t actually happen or exist, or of something happening in a way that differs greatly from reality. There are plenty of examples such as misquoted lines from TV, film, music, and literature, not to mention recollections of completely non-existent works. False memories can also involve commonly held, yet erroneous beliefs. The latter phenomenon has been labelled the “Mandela Effect”, after the belief that Nelson Mandela had actually passed away in the 1980s. The spelling of the Berenstain Bears is another famous example.

Needless to say, video games provide us with plenty of examples of false memories and the Mandela Effect. This is usually due to rumours and urban legends that are perpetuated despite being debunked time and time again, or simply an incorrect recollection of a game you haven’t played in a long time. Other times, the memory may be accurate in that it’s something that was experienced, but inaccurate in that it was the result of a mod, or something seen in an early preview. As is often the case, basketball gaming provides us with its own examples of false memories, and today I’m taking a look at five of them, along with some possible explanations.

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