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Wayback Wednesday: Former NBA Teams & Video Games

Wayback Wednesday: Former NBA Teams & 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 former NBA teams, and their now-nostalgic appearances in video games.

Something that I’ve explored in several of my Wayback Wednesday features this year is the way that old video games act as interactive almanacs. Yes, it’s fun to revisit old hoops titles simply to remember what the gameplay was like. Certain games hold up quite well, and for some gamers, their simplicity can even make them more appealing than the newer releases. However, as I’ve said on many occasions, there’s something really enjoyable about looking back at a snapshot of the NBA by scrolling through the rosters and seeing now-retired players, as well as familiar faces in strange places.

To that point, I’ve mostly been focusing on the players, but there’s a lot of nostalgia with the teams as well. Not only is it a fun trip down memory lane to see lineups that we’ve forgotten – some of them full of “What Ifs” – but it’s great to see all of the old branding as well. From logos that teams used for years, to short-lived uniforms and the classic jerseys that still rank as our favourites, we can see it all when we dust off old games. With a handful of franchises relocating and/or changing their names over the past couple of decades, we can also see those former NBA teams live on through the virtual hardwood. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: Annual Rituals & Goals in NBA 2K

Monday Tip-Off: Annual Rituals & Goals in NBA 2K

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 reflections on my annual rituals and goals in NBA 2K games.

I buy NBA 2K every year. In fact, throughout this past generation, I’ve double-dipped with copies for PC (for mods) and PlayStation 4 (for online play). I suppose that makes me a part of the problem as far as supporting the game despite having gripes with it, but in my defense, I’m both a collector and a content creator. Without at least one copy of the game, it’s difficult to provide coverage post-release. I know this all too well, having covered NCAA Basketball 10 throughout its preview season, and then not at all afterwards because I couldn’t import the game (I since have for PS3).

It’s also my aim to enjoy the game every year, and with the NBA Live series being rather underwhelming or completely absent from the basketball gaming space for much of the past decade, I’ve been getting my virtual hoops fix from NBA 2K. As such, there are a few rituals I engage in, and goals that I strive for, in each new NBA 2K title. In some respects, it’s probably made it difficult to break some of the habits I’ve formed, especially in MyCAREER. On the other hand, it always provides me with some baseline goals from which I can derive a sense of accomplishment, as well as completion. If I manage to attain these goals, I feel like I’ve got my money’s worth.

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The Friday Five: Top 5 Unfixed Bugs in NBA 2K21 Current Gen

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 countdown of the Top 5 unfixed bugs in the Current Gen version of NBA 2K21.

Whenever a new console generation launches, you can guarantee that the version of the game that the existing platforms receive is going to be an afterthought. It only stands to reason that Next Gen is the focus, given the new technology that developers have to work with, and the desire for strong sales numbers that the suits desire. In the best case scenario, the Current Gen version will still be a solid release for gamers that aren’t ready – or this time around, able – to upgrade to the new consoles. It’s certainly not uncommon, however, for the Current Gen release to be a sloppy or subpar one.

That’s exactly how I would describe NBA 2K21 Current Gen. I’m tempted to call it a copy and paste job, except that it lacks the quality of NBA 2K20. Not only does the game feature a myriad of legacy issues that have persisted throughout the generation – or even longer in some cases – but there are new bugs and gameplay problems, too. Furthermore, the post-release support has likewise been disappointing. Although the game has received a number of patches, there are still some major bugs that remain unfixed as of the last update. Please note that I’m only referring to technical issues and not gameplay problems here, as that’s a whole other topic for another time.

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Wayback Wednesday: NBA Live 08 Practice Arena

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 practice arena in NBA Live 08.

For artists working on sim basketball games, there isn’t always a lot of room for creativity. Since the aim of the genre is to depict the NBA, its teams, and its players as realistically as possible, there aren’t as many opportunities to take liberties and utilise creative license. However, there are a few areas of the game that invite an artistic flourish, including settings such as The Neighborhood and The City, special effects in MyTEAM, fictional street courts, certain clothing items, and the frontend in general. Oh, and the practice arena.

Over the years, a lot of creativity has gone into creating an appealing practice arena for us to shoot around in, particularly in NBA Live. We’ve had The Temple in NBA Live 06 and 07, The Hangar in NBA Live 10, and the adidas-branded gym in NBA Live 15. NBA Live 09 introduced us to the NBA Live Academy. In NBA Live 19, we were even invited to design our own court where we could shoot around. A setting that is often overlooked, however, is the humble practice arena in the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 version of NBA Live 08. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: Unplayable Is A Strong Word

Monday Tip-Off: Unplayable Is A Strong Word

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 a word that I’m seeing a lot of basketball gamers using at the moment: unplayable.

In last week’s Friday Five, I talked about the tell-tale signs that allow us to spot a shill in the basketball gaming community, and by extension, why shills are such a pain. I stand by that, but it’s important that we look at both sides of the coin, so to speak. Shills and fanboys pollute the discourse, but so do haters. Even if we aren’t being outright haters, we can make ourselves look bad through exaggerated criticism, especially when we allow our frustration with an issue to get the better of us. This is when we’ll opt for clichéd buzzwords (usually snarky ones).

When we’re disgusted with a game, we want to express ourselves in the strongest possible manner. Words like “dreadful” pack so much more of a punch than just plain “bad”; at least until they’re overused. A good example of a popular word that lost its critical value through overuse is “cartoonish“, though it was often poorly defined to begin with. A word that I’ve seen used a lot lately is “unplayable”. It’s a strong word, in this context implying a complete lack of quality and enjoyment. There are times when it’s appropriate to describe a game as unplayable, but it’s a word we need to be careful about using. After all, used indiscriminately, it’ll lose impact and credibility.

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The Friday Five: 5 Ways to Spot a Shill

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 provides a guide to spotting a shill in the basketball gaming community.

Contrary to what some people might think, I don’t relish writing critical articles. It’s something that I like to balance, because I believe that we should enjoy and celebrate basketball gaming. After all, my motto for the NLSC is fans, not fanboys; critics, not haters. However, it’s also important to point out issues with the games, as well as our community, and the wider basketball gaming community in general. It’s vital that we stand up for ourselves as consumers, which means not remaining silent when there are problems, or defending bad practices. In short, it means not being a shill.

Now, what’s the difference – if any – between a fanboy and a shill? There’s obviously a large amount of overlap between the two, but I would say that a shill tends to take things much further. They also tend to be louder voices in the community, wielding some level of influence, and enjoying certain perks as a result. Fanboys contribute to very frustrating discussions and muddy our attempts to provide constructive feedback, but a shill shuts down the conversation, and throws their fellow gamers under the bus. The shills aren’t going anywhere, but if you know how to spot them, you can at least take their words with the scepticism that they deserve. These are the tell-tale signs.

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Wayback Wednesday: Stints Spanning Two Generations

Wayback Wednesday: Stints Spanning Two Generations

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 players whose stints with their current team runs through the past two generations of consoles.

It seems almost inevitable that the stars of the NBA will play for more than one team these days. While player movement is nothing new, and some of the biggest names in NBA history had stints with more than one team, we’re seeing more and more future Hall of Famers jump ship in their prime. With the retirement of Tim Duncan, Dirk Nowitzki, and the late Kobe Bryant, we may have seen the last players to spend their entire career with one franchise, or at least retire where they had their most success. It’s certainly becoming more of a rarity, as the culture of the league continues to shift.

At the same time, there are a few players who are in the midst of lengthy tenures with their current teams. With the launch of a new generation of consoles, there’s a group of players who are still with the same teams they played for at the beginning of the previous generation. How many do they number, and how does that compare to older eras and console generations? Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: A Ticking Clock on Current Gen

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 my thoughts on how there’s a ticking clock on the relevance of NBA 2K21 Current Gen, and indeed, the generation as a whole.

Last Thursday, I managed to secure a pre-order for a PlayStation 5, specifically the run that will be released in Australia circa December 8th. This means although I’ve missed out on the launch, it won’t be nearly as long a wait as I’d anticipated. It also means that I’m starting to get more excited about and interested in NBA 2K21 Next Gen. When it appeared as though I might not be able to actually play it until 2021, it was naturally difficult to get hyped. Now I can actually look forward to checking it out – and producing content for it – in the not too distant future.

Of course, this places the Current Gen version in limbo, a situation that most gamers predicted would happen. The PC version has the benefit of the modding community, but generally speaking, any excitement that surrounded the Current Gen release has given way to hype for Next Gen. Now that I’ll be able to play that version as well, I’m left wondering what to do with NBA 2K21 Current Gen for the next few weeks. I’ve also been wondering about the future of basketball gaming on the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. I’m optimistic that the PC will receive a Next Gen port as early as NBA 2K22, but the clock has to be ticking on the current generation of consoles.

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The Friday Five: 5 Amusing Graphical Glitches

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 amusing graphical glitches found in various basketball games.

Generally speaking, nothing spoils a game quite like glitches. In the worst case scenario, glitches impede progress and render games unwinnable, or perhaps corrupt save data. They can be advantageous to exploit, yet frustrating if you’re not the one benefiting from them. Graphical glitches tend to be ranked much lower on the scale of annoying bugs and gameplay quirks, though they can still detract from the atmosphere in a title that’s aiming for stunning, realistic graphics. If nothing else, they don’t represent a game at its visual best.

Of course, graphical glitches in particular can be very amusing, and few games are immune to them. Basketball games are no exception, and over the years, various hoops titles have included some funny graphical glitches. To the developers’ credit, some of them are only noticeable in instant replay, where it’s possible to advance frame by frame and really scrutinise the animations. Graphical glitches from the early days of basketball gaming are obviously the result of primitive technology, but are nevertheless good for a laugh. With that in mind, here are five graphical glitches from an assortment of games that I hope you’ll also find amusing.

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Wayback Wednesday: NBA 2K14 PS4 & X1 Retrospective

Wayback Wednesday: NBA 2K14 PS4 & X1 Retrospective

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 NBA 2K14 on PS4 and X1.

The age of the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S is upon us! Although many of us will miss out on getting the consoles at launch – and I’m in that group – many other gamers will be hitting the virtual hardwood and blacktop in NBA 2K21 Next Gen over the coming days, weeks, and months. The rest of us will have to make do with NBA 2K21 Current Gen, or the hoops game of our choice that’s available on PS4, X1, or PC. That doesn’t mean we can’t get our virtual basketball fix of course, but it does mean that we miss out on the excitement and hoopla of a Next Gen release.

Honestly, it doesn’t feel like it was seven years ago that we were experiencing that with NBA 2K14 on PS4 and X1. After the OMG Trailer more than lived up to its name and blew us all away, we were eager to see if the game played as good as it looked. It seems as though many basketball gamers do have a lot of nostalgia for NBA 2K14 on PS4 and X1, but looking back, did it live up to the hype, and how well does it hold up now? As a new generation launches and Current Gen becomes Last Gen, let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: How We Really Feel About VC

Monday Tip-Off: How We Really Feel About VC

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 look at how the community really feels about VC in NBA 2K.

Back in October, I posted a poll on Twitter and in the NLSC Forum, asking a two-part question about Virtual Currency. The question I posed to my fellow basketball gamers was whether they had ever bought VC, and if so, did they buy it regularly and readily. I was interested to see the results, because the community’s thoughts on VC aren’t always as obvious as you might think. While it would likely be a very small minority that would argue that NBA 2K needs to have microtransactions, not all basketball gamers are completely against them.

As such, the matter of how we feel about VC isn’t open and shut. When you look at the poll numbers and opinions that people have offered up on the subject, it’s fair to say that the consensus is that we’re not fans of microtransactions and NBA 2K’s general approach with its freemium-like in-game economy. At the same time, being against the practice doesn’t mean that people don’t partake in it. Likewise, partaking in buying VC – at least somewhat willingly – doesn’t mean that someone necessarily disagrees with the criticism. Throw in staunch opposition and general apathy, and the question of how we feel about VC doesn’t always have an obvious answer.

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The Friday Five: 5 Things NBA Jam Doesn’t Get Enough Credit 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 NBA Jam doesn’t get enough credit for.

Following on from my articles about the things that NBA Live and NBA 2K don’t get enough credit for, this week I’m giving NBA Jam the same treatment. As with NBA 2K, that may seem strange as NBA Jam is still held in high regard and remembered quite fondly. When it comes to games from the 90s, NBA Live’s image has easily suffered more, due to its struggles dating back to the mid 2000s. Although there have been some forgettable NBA Jam games (mainly the ones made by Acclaim), the best titles – including the sequels under different names, like NBA Hangtime – are revered.

And yet, there are times when it feels like NBA Jam doesn’t receive the credit that it deserves. I’ve seen gamers say they don’t get what’s so special about it, either because they prefer sim games, or in some cases, that they’re fonder of NBA Street. It’s been nearly ten years since the last NBA Jam game was released, and I imagine there’s a large contingent of the current basketball gaming demographic that didn’t grow up with it as I and other 90s kids did. Whatever the case may be, NBA Jam should be appreciated for its impact on basketball gaming. In particular, I would suggest that NBA Jam unquestionably deserves credit for these five things.

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Wayback Wednesday: Familiar Faces Back in Familiar Places (Part 3)

Wayback Wednesday: Familiar Faces Back in Familiar Places (Part 3)

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.

Yes, there are even more examples of familiar faces in familiar places, and video games that represent those tenures! Many well-known players who leave the team they’re most closely associated with ultimately end their careers in strange (or at the very least, different) places, but quite a few of them do end up donning a familiar jersey once again. As I’ve said before, while one might think that the familiarity of the situation would make those stints stand out, sometimes we end up forgetting that stars and key rotation players returned to their former team.

On the other hand, there are also players whose returns were quite successful, and thus tend to be remembered. Of course, whether it’s a low-key homecoming, a high profile farewell tour, a brief reunion, or the welcome return of a player that still has a lot left in the tank, they lead to some interesting situations in the real NBA, and on the virtual hardwood. Once again, I’ve compiled ten more examples to reminisce about through the lens of basketball video games, so let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: Ending Online Sessions on a High Note

Monday Tip-Off: Ending Online Sessions on a High Note

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 the desire and the difficulty of ending online sessions of NBA 2K on a high note.

It’s now several months too late to pay tribute to the late Kenny Rogers, as well as somewhat out of place in content about basketball gaming. However, his signature song, “The Gambler“, provides an apt metaphor for this week’s topic. As the song tells us, in life – as in playing poker – there’s wisdom in knowing when to hold ’em and when to fold ’em; when to walk away, when to run. The metaphor resonates because it’s important to know when to call it quits, when to persevere, and how to play the hand you’ve been dealt, literally and figuratively speaking.

Not everything has the same stakes, of course, but the metaphor works for a variety of scenarios. On this occasion, I’m applying it to online sessions in NBA 2K. Getting into the online scene over the past few years has been an interesting experience. It’s been frustrating at times, but also a lot of fun at others. Something that I and the rest of the NLSC Pro-Am squad have learned is that it’s very easy to play one game too many, and thus end the night on a sour note. It’s disappointing to end an evening of online hoops that way, and unfortunately, it isn’t always easy to avoid. Even when you know you ought to fold ’em, you can end up sticking around for a few more hands.

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The Friday Five: 5 Things NBA 2K Doesn’t Get Enough Credit 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 NBA 2K doesn’t get enough credit for.

Last week, I discussed five things that NBA Live doesn’t get enough credit for. As I mentioned, I’d planned similar articles for NBA 2K and NBA Jam, and this week it’s 2K’s turn. It may seem odd to suggest that NBA 2K doesn’t get enough credit for things given its current position as the brand leader when it comes to sim basketball games, not to mention its record sales and recurrent revenue figures. True, various issues with quality and a lack of goodwill have contributed to some low user scores on Metacritic in recent years, but it still receives a lot of acclaim.

Nevertheless, there are things NBA 2K doesn’t get enough credit for, despite its popularity and positive professional reviews. For those of us who have been playing the games for years, it is easy to get jaded by legacy issues, though as I alluded to, there have also been practices in recent titles that understandably draw focus away from the good parts. We’re well within our rights to criticise those aspects, just as we critique NBA Live and any other games, but it’s only fair that we recognise the great things as well. After all, some of them don’t get the credit they deserve, and to that end, here are five things in NBA 2K that are due some recognition and appreciation.

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