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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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Wayback Wednesday: NBA Live 09 & Fallout 3

Wayback Wednesday: NBA Live 09 & Fallout 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 looking back at how NBA Live 09 led me to discover Fallout 3, and the way that the games are linked in my nostalgia for them.

I’m sure that some of you are thinking this is quite an unusual topic for a Wayback Wednesday feature. Of course, if you’re a long-time listener of the NLSC Podcast or a member of our Forum, you may well be aware that I’m also an enthusiastic fan of the Fallout series. Along with Bart vs. The Space Mutants, mentioning it on the podcast is something of a running gag. At the same time, my love of Fallout 3 in particular has a connection to basketball gaming. More specifically, when I reflect on Fallout 3, I’ll often associate it with NBA Live 09.

That may seem quite esoteric, but there’s a reason why the two games are linked for me. No, NBA Live 09 doesn’t exactly have any post-apocalyptic themes, and apart from basketballs being present as a junk/miscellaneous item in Fallout 3, it doesn’t have much to do with the hardwood, virtual or otherwise. Nevertheless, the two games are linked in my memory, and today I’m reflecting upon that connection. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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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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The Friday Five: 5 Things NBA Live 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 Live doesn’t get enough credit for.

We’re getting to the point in our 25th Anniversary of NBA Live celebrations where I’m talking about the fall of the series, and the struggles that it has endured for more than a decade now. It’s unfortunate that the retrospectives aren’t as positive as the earlier releases in the series, but it’s the truth, and a part of its history that needs to be discussed. It’s even more unfortunate that it’s the prevailing image for NBA Live: a struggling series that hasn’t been able to get things right for a couple of generations, and as such, remains lagging way behind NBA 2K; a game it once outsold annually.

After all, it wasn’t always that way. Because it’s been so long, it’s all too easy to forget that there are many things that NBA Live innovated and did well. To that end, the series doesn’t always get the credit it deserves, both from gamers who switched to 2K many years ago, and those who are too young to remember when the NBA Live series was king. On top of that, it’s quite easy to focus on the negatives and take things for granted. With that in mind, I’ll also be writing similar articles on things that NBA 2K and NBA Jam deserve more credit for. For now though, let’s take a look at five aspects of NBA Live throughout the years that do deserve more credit.

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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 Ways I’ve Changed MyCAREER Habits

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 ways that I’ve changed my habits when it comes to MyCAREER.

Today’s my birthday, and for those who are interested, I’ve turned 36. Yes, I was just a couple of months shy of turning 17 when I took over the NLSC in August 2001; time sure has flown! In that time, I’d like to think I’ve grown, matured, and gained a new perspective. Of course, there are some people who might say that running a site dedicated to video games at the age of 36 isn’t a sign of maturity, but hey, let’s leave the cynicism to Next Gen! I say that as long as you keep things in perspective and take care of your responsibilities, video games are a perfectly acceptable adult hobby.

Of course, as I’ve grown older and basketball games have evolved, so too have my tastes. As I’ve mentioned before, I always considered myself a franchise gamer, as I became a huge fan of those modes once they were introduced in the late 90s/early 2000s. Over the past decade however, I’ve spent more time with career modes and their connected online experiences. Mind you, the way I play MyCAREER has also changed from when I first got hooked on the mode back in NBA 2K13. Some habits have been influenced by the changes in recent titles, while others could probably be attributed to me getting older, grumpier, and less patient. Here are five examples!

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Wayback Wednesday: The Pressbook in NBA 2K

Wayback Wednesday: The Pressbook in NBA 2K

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 Pressbook that appeared in only a few NBA 2K games.

As much as I enjoy looking back at games and their major features in my Wayback Wednesday articles, it’s also nice to appreciate the little things. While the appeal of basketball video games lies in enjoyable gameplay and engaging modes, the little things can be that extra touch that really makes the experience. Sometimes they add convenience, or simply enhance the overall atmosphere of a game. They may be something that a lot of people overlook or never really use, but if it’s a feature that you do enjoy or find useful, you’ll miss it if it’s removed.

Case in point: the Pressbook in NBA 2K. It’s a very small feature in the grand scheme of things, and it probably isn’t something that most of us would use after every single game we played. Nevertheless, it was a good idea, yet one that only appeared in a few NBA 2K releases. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: Cynicism as a New Generation Looms

Monday Tip-Off: Cynicism as a New Generation Looms

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 how previews of NBA 2K21 Next Gen have inspired cynicism for me, rather than excitement.

When the NBA 2K21 Next Gen trailer dropped, I was compelled to post a few Tweets outlining my initial impressions. As you can probably gather from that thread, as well as comments I’ve made in our Forum and on the NLSC Podcast, I wasn’t blown away by the trailer, or pumped up about the game. If you follow me on Twitter, take part in our Forum, read my articles, or listen to our Podcast, you’ll probably also know that I’m not the biggest fan of NBA 2K21 Current Gen, either. My disappointment with NBA 2K21 and other recent releases has set the table for some Next Gen cynicism.

Thinking back to the release of NBA 2K14 for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, I don’t remember feeling quite as cynical. It’s unfortunate, as I’d prefer not to feel that way. I don’t want my content to come across as jaded and overwhelmingly negative, but beyond that, as an avid basketball gamer, I want to enjoy my hobby and look forward to new games when they’re on the horizon. As NBA 2K21 Next Gen looms and we get our first glimpses and insights into the forthcoming game, my cynicism definitely outpaces my optimism in a way that it didn’t seven years ago. Today, I’m reflecting upon that, and how things have changed over the course of a generation.

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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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Wayback Wednesday: NBA 2K11 Retrospective

Wayback Wednesday: NBA 2K11 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 2K11 with a tenth anniversary retrospective.

Monday marked the tenth anniversary of NBA 2K11, so I feel a retrospective is only appropriate. Before we get to that though, the fact that ten years have passed since the release of NBA 2K11 is, for me at least, mind-blowing. It doesn’t feel like a whole decade has gone by since basketball gamers were sinking their teeth into a title that many still consider to be one of the best (if not the best) hoops games ever made. Like NBA Live 2000 before it, it’s managed to hold a special place in our hearts long past its release, because it was such a great game for its time.

Of course, being a great game for its time doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s still the benchmark, which raises a few questions: just how good is NBA 2K11, and how well does it hold up? What makes it so special that a vocal contingent of basketball gamers opine that no game since has been able to top it? They’re pertinent questions for an NBA 2K11 retrospective to explore, so let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: Thoughts on Skill-Based Matchmaking

Monday Tip-Off: Thoughts on Skill-Based 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 some thoughts on skill-based matchmaking.

Did you know that the concept of skill-based matchmaking, commonly abbreviated to SBMM, is controversial? I’ll admit that I was surprised at first, but the more I thought about it, the more it made sense; especially given my experiences playing NBA 2K online. As the name implies, skill-based matchmaking is a system for matching both teammates and opponents in online play according to their abilities. The criteria and algorithms for this vary from game to game, but are generally based on winning percentage, ranking or reputation systems, and other statistics relevant to the genre.

Sounds like a good idea, right; the kind of proper matchmaking that we’d expect to see in a basketball game like NBA 2K, with all of its connected experiences? Well, you would think so, but not everyone is a fan of skill-based matchmaking. This disdain stretches beyond NBA 2K and the basketball gaming community, but the basic reasoning behind gamers’ objections to the concept remains the same. Frankly, this is unfortunate. SBMM is indeed a good idea, and would undoubtedly clean up the online scene in NBA 2K by reducing the toxicity and sense of gatekeeping. I’d like to explore why it’s necessary, and also examine the controversy surrounding SBMM.

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The Friday Five: 5 Community Issues NBA 2K21 Has Spotlighted

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 look at five issues within the basketball gaming community that NBA 2K21 has spotlighted.

NBA 2K21 Current Gen has been out for about a month, and following its release, gamers have had a lot to say about it. The game has had a mixed reception to say the least, and some of the new concepts haven’t resonated as positively as the developers no doubt hoped they would. A big patch came through on September 14th, which does seem to have allayed some concerns with the game. No release is ever perfect though, and not all issues can be caught before the game is in our hands, especially when the COVID-19 pandemic is presenting developers with several obstacles.

Gamers have been noting the issues with NBA 2K21 and sharing feedback with the developers accordingly, but I’ve noticed something else in the wake of the game being released. It seems as though NBA 2K21 has also spotlighted some issues within the community itself, both in the way we approach the games and how we interact with each other. These community issues aren’t necessarily new, and in some cases they’re the result of toxicity that’s compounded over the years. At the same time, I do feel as though certain aspects of NBA 2K21 have shone a light on some of these community issues, and I honestly feel that we could (and should) be doing better in these areas.

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Wayback Wednesday: Discovering an NBA Live 08 Roster

Wayback Wednesday: Discovering an NBA Live 08 Roster

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 an old custom roster for NBA Live 08 on Xbox 360 that I discovered in my archives.

Through looking back at old basketball video games for Wayback Wednesday, I’ve been able to make a few discoveries. Whether it’s changing my opinion on a game one way or another, recalling a forgotten feature, or even noticing an error that I’ve been able to some overlook for more than two decades, covering old games on a regular basis has resulted in some interesting experiences. There’s something very satisfying in gaining a new perspective, filling in a gap in your knowledge, and for that matter, simply discovering something cool. It’s like finding buried treasure.

Today, I’d like to talk about a different kind of discovery: a custom roster for the Xbox 360 version of NBA Live 08. Now, I’ve been able to go back and find a few roster mods and the like in my archives over the years, but they’ve generally been for the PC version of various NBA Live titles. Finding some original content for the console releases is much rarer, at least when it comes to my archives. As soon as I found it, I knew it was something I’d have to revisit and talk about here in Wayback Wednesday. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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