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NLSC Top 10 Plays of the Week: June 18th, 2022

NLSC Top 10 Plays of the Week

Get ready for more fantastic highlights from the basketball gaming community in the NLSC Top 10 Plays of the Week, curated by Dee4Three! New and old games alike are featured in this celebration of spectacular moments on the virtual hardwood. To submit your clips, post them in this topic, or hit up Dee on Twitter.

What does the scouter say about the power level of this week’s NLSC Top 10 Plays? With characters from Dragon Ball Z hitting the virtual hardwood via mods, it’s over 9000! There’s also a ridiculous alley-oop to Kevin Garnett in NBA Live 2002, more dominance from 1995 Shaquille O’Neal in NBA 2K19, Michael Jordan doing what he does best in NBA 2K17, and my NBA 2K14 MyPLAYER pulling off something that I definitely cannot do in real life. It’s another great countdown of highlights, with seven different games in total spanning from NBA Live 2002 through to NBA 2K22!

What was your favourite highlight this week? Sound off in the comments below, and once again, get in on the fun by sending us your best plays! Remember, as long as it’s a basketball game, it’s eligible for the countdown. Also, don’t forget to subscribe to us on YouTube for more basketball gaming videos.

The Friday Five: 5 Reasons NBA Jam: On Fire Edition is the Best Jam Game

Welcome to another edition of The Friday Five! Every Friday I cover a topic related to basketball gaming, either as a list of five items, or a Top 5 countdown. The topics for these lists and countdowns include everything from fun facts and recollections to commentary and critique. This week’s Five is a list of five reasons that I rank NBA Jam: On Fire Edition as the best release in the NBA Jam series.

We really need another NBA Jam game. I know there were gamers that skipped the NBA Jam games by EA Sports, either because they were burned by previous non-Midway Jam titles, they didn’t trust or want to support EA, or a mixture of both. I understand having that stance, but frankly, you missed out on a couple of really good NBA Jam games! They were faithful to the originals, while also bringing something new to the table. It’s because of this that NBA Jam: On Fire Edition remains my pick for the best NBA Jam game to date.

I know that’s a big claim to make, especially when the original NBA Jam still holds up today. Tournament Edition was a fantastic follow-up to that, and though Midway lost the Jam moniker, NBA Hangtime was a worthy sequel to TE. NBA Showtime: NBA on NBC and NBA Hoopz were also fine games in Midway’s branch of the lineage; Acclaim’s titles, not so much. In short, there is some stiff competition for NBA Jam: On Fire Edition, yet I do believe that it stands above the rest. While EA were struggling with NBA Live by the early 2010s, they made great use of the NBA Jam license, creating the definitive Jam experience with NBA Jam: On Fire Edition.

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Wayback Wednesday: NBA Live 2003 vs NBA Live 2004

Wayback Wednesday: NBA Live 2003 vs NBA Live 2004

This is Wayback Wednesday, your midweek blast from the past! From retrospectives of basketball games and their interesting features, to republished articles and looking at NBA history through the lens of the virtual hardwood, Wednesdays at the NLSC are for going back in time. This week, I’m comparing NBA Live 2003 and NBA Live 2004, in a new edition of “Versus”!

Once again, I’ve gone a while between posting a new “Versus” feature for Wayback Wednesday. There is a reason for that, though. With so many retro basketball games and retro basketball gaming topics to cover, it can take a while to circle back to titles I’ve already talked about. I’d also prefer not to profile games for the first time with a direct comparison to another game, as that would get in the way of a comprehensive retrospective. However, it is fun and interesting to rank and rate old favourites, having had plenty of time to enjoy and reflect on them.

That brings us to NBA Live 2003 and NBA Live 2004, back-to-back releases in the Golden Age of NBA Live; or possibly the series’ second Golden Age, depending on how you rate NBA Live 2001 and NBA Live 2002. Among older basketball gamers, there’s a ton of nostalgia for both games. If you’re my age, you’ll remember them as fun games from early adulthood. If you’re slightly younger, they may have been your entry into basketball gaming! The question is: which game is better? I’ve broken up my arguments into five categories, so let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: Free-to-Play & Triple-A Basketball Games

Monday Tip-Off: Free-to-Play & Triple-A Basketball Games

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Join me as I begin the week here at the NLSC with my opinions and commentary on basketball gaming topics, as well as tales of the fun I’ve been having on the virtual hardwood. This week, I’m tipping things off with some thoughts on the prospect of Triple-A basketball games being free-to-play (aka F2P).

It’s no secret that NBA Live, once the brand leader in sim NBA video games, has been struggling for well over a decade. It hit a low point with the failed attempt to rebrand and revamp the series with NBA Elite 11, one that it hasn’t been able to recover from to date. With its inability to topple NBA 2K, or even just make some inroads into gaining a bigger share of the market, I’ve seen people suggest that the console version of NBA Live become a free-to-play title. The argument is that it would be a lower risk, and encourage more gamers to give it a try.

Interestingly, I’ve also seen suggestions that NBA 2K become a free-to-play game. In this case, the suggestion has nothing to do with quality, but rather finance. As you’re undoubtedly well aware, the nature of NBA 2K being an annual release means that in modes such as MyCAREER and MyTEAM, there’s a reset on our progress with each new game. That means more grinding, and more money spent. With annual sports titles often being derided as glorified roster updates, it’s no surprise that a free-to-play model, or perhaps a new game every few years with subscriptions for updates in between, are ideas that have been floated. I certainly have some thoughts on that.

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NLSC Top 10 Plays of the Week: June 11th, 2022

NLSC Top 10 Plays of the Week

Get ready for more fantastic highlights from the basketball gaming community in the NLSC Top 10 Plays of the Week, curated by Dee4Three! New and old games alike are featured in this celebration of spectacular moments on the virtual hardwood. To submit your clips, post them in this topic, or hit up Dee on Twitter.

On a recent episode of the NLSC Podcast, we discussed how it tends to be easier to create offensive highlights compared to spectacular defensive plays. Appropriately enough, this week’s NLSC Top 10 Plays demonstrates that great defense does indeed create memorable moments on the virtual hardwood, especially when it leads to impressive buckets at the other end. On top of some impressive D, this week’s countdown also features the usual assortment of entertaining dunks and crafty moves. Once again, these great plays came from a variety of titles, from NBA Live 2001 to NBA 2K22.

What was your favourite highlight this week? Sound off in the comments below, and once again, get in on the fun by sending us your best plays! Remember, as long as it’s a basketball game, it’s eligible for the countdown. Also, don’t forget to subscribe to us on YouTube for more basketball gaming videos.

The Friday Five: 5 Cover Players That Won Titles The Same Year

The Friday Five: 5 Cover Players That Won Titles The Same Year

Welcome to another edition of The Friday Five! Every Friday I cover a topic related to basketball gaming, either as a list of five items, or a Top 5 countdown. The topics for these lists and countdowns include everything from fun facts and recollections to commentary and critique. This week’s Five is a list of five cover players that won NBA titles in the same season their game came out.

Last week, I listed five players who graced video game covers in the same year that they made the NBA Finals. More specifically, I was referring to players who made the Finals, but were ultimately the runners-up. Obviously, cover players who won titles while being the face of a game technically qualify as examples for last week’s list as well. However, I did want to draw a distinction between the cover players who “only” made it to the Finals that same year, and those who actually won titles. While both are accomplishments and interesting trivia, the latter is naturally rather more special.

To that end, the number of cover players that won titles in the same year is smaller than the already select group of names who made the Finals while being the face of NBA Live, NBA 2K, or another title. As I noted last week, publishers like EA and 2K are no doubt more interested in a player’s popularity and marketability than whether they’ll be in the Finals, or NBA Champions. I have no doubt that they’re happy when it does occur, but given that it’s a gamble even if they ink a deal with a player from a contender, it’s a bonus boost to the brand at the end of the day. NBA Champion cover players are something that a handful of titles can boast however, including these five.

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Wayback Wednesday: Familiar Faces Back in Familiar Places (Part 6)

Wayback Wednesday: Familiar Faces Back in Familiar Places (Part 6)

This is Wayback Wednesday, your midweek blast from the past! From retrospectives of basketball games and their interesting features, to republished articles and looking at NBA history through the lens of the virtual hardwood, Wednesdays at the NLSC are for going back in time. This week, I’m taking a look back at another ten players that became familiar faces back in familiar places.

Since there are a number of players who became familiar faces back in familiar places at some point in their career, its time for the sixth instalment of this series! For those who are unfamiliar with the topic, I’m taking a look back at players who returned to teams that they’re usually most closely associated with, after stints elsewhere. While many big names never had a proper reunion with their former clubs until after they retired, others did don the same jersey once again (or an updated version of it). The same goes for players who weren’t stars, but still noteworthy names that we recall.

Of course, sometimes we forget about their return stints, especially if they were brief and towards the end of their career, and there was no hoopla of an “official” farewell tour. As I’ve said before, one way to recall these familiar faces being back in familiar places is to fire up an old video game, and see them there in the rosters. It’s why I’m looking at these examples through the lens of basketball video games, on top of them being what we’re all about here at the NLSC. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: The Worst Virtual NBA Finalists

Monday Tip-Off: The Worst Virtual NBA Finalists

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Join me as I begin the week here at the NLSC with my opinions and commentary on basketball gaming topics, as well as tales of the fun I’ve been having on the virtual hardwood. This week, I’m tipping things off with a look at the worst virtual NBA Finalists that I’ve encountered in all my years of basketball gaming.

Simulation engines are far from infallible. They already have a tough task as far as generating realistic results, given that the actual NBA can produce some unexpected outcomes. However, some of the results we see in our virtual seasons are definitely unrealistically favourable to upsets and underdogs. It makes me wonder about the articles that simulate the forthcoming season in NBA 2K. Did they run with the first simulation, or did they have to keep trying until the game produced more believable results, with realistic NBA Finalists and Champions?

Having finished seasons in multiple games, I’ve encountered a variety of virtual NBA Finalists, including a few surprising ones. The Minnesota Timberwolves in Year 3 of my NBA 2K14 MyCAREER would definitely qualify as such a squad. Indeed, when I mentioned to Dee4Three that they were my opponent, and sent him a screenshot of their roster, he observed that they were a strong candidate for the worst team to ever make the NBA Finals. Dee suggested that they merited a closer look in an article, and I liked the idea; especially as it got me thinking about some of the other virtual NBA Finalists I’ve faced in games, and whether any were as weak as those Timberwolves.

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NLSC Top 10 Plays of the Week: June 4th, 2022

NLSC Top 10 Plays of the Week

Get ready for more fantastic highlights from the basketball gaming community in the NLSC Top 10 Plays of the Week, curated by Dee4Three! New and old games alike are featured in this celebration of spectacular moments on the virtual hardwood. To submit your clips, post them in this topic, or hit up Dee on Twitter.

This week’s NLSC Top 10 Plays features eight different games, ranging from the Super Nintendo version of NBA Live 98 through to NBA 2K22. You’ll see Isaiah Rider pulling off the East Bay Funk dunk in NBA 2K13 using URB, Larry Johnson throwing it down in NBA 2K19 thanks to the 1995 season mod, and eras colliding with a Doctor J windmill in NBA 2K17. There’s even one of my highlights from NBA Live 15 Ultimate Team, discovered in the archives and remastered by Dee! In short, it’s another countdown filled with flashy moves and fun moments on the virtual hardwood.

What was your favourite highlight this week? Sound off in the comments below, and once again, get in on the fun by sending us your best plays! Remember, as long as it’s a basketball game, it’s eligible for the countdown. Also, don’t forget to subscribe to us on YouTube for more basketball gaming videos.

The Friday Five: 5 Cover Players That Made the Finals The Same Year

Welcome to another edition of The Friday Five! Every Friday I cover a topic related to basketball gaming, either as a list of five items, or a Top 5 countdown. The topics for these lists and countdowns include everything from fun facts and recollections to commentary and critique. This week’s Five is a list of five cover players that made the NBA Finals in the same season their game came out.

The 2022 NBA Finals are upon us! Fittingly, in this 75th Anniversary season, the two teams squaring off are the Golden State Warriors, and the Boston Celtics. Not only are they two of the original three BAA/NBA teams – the New York Knicks being the third – but the Warriors and Celtics have plenty of championship history between them. The Warriors were the inaugural BAA champions, and have gone on to win another five titles since. Boston, meanwhile, were long-time record holders for total NBA championships, and are currently tied with the Los Angeles Lakers with 17.

While there’s plenty of real life history involved with this year’s Finals matchup, it is lacking a tie-in with the virtual hardwood, namely involving cover players. There was only one game on the market for the 2022 season – NBA 2K22 – and while it boasted a few different covers, none of them featured a player that will be competing in this year’s championship series. Popularity and marketability are obviously the deciding factors when EA Sports and Visual Concepts choose their cover players, rather than likelihood of winning or at least competing for a title that year. Of course, it’s quite fortuitous when they do! Here are five cover players that made it as far as the Finals.

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Wayback Wednesday: Signature Skills in NBA 2K

Wayback Wednesday: Signature Skills in NBA 2K

This is Wayback Wednesday, your midweek blast from the past! From retrospectives of basketball games and their interesting features, to republished articles and looking at NBA history through the lens of the virtual hardwood, Wednesdays at the NLSC are for going back in time. This week, I’m taking a look back at Signature Skills in NBA 2K.

A key improvement as basketball video games have evolved is the way in which different player abilities are represented. Indeed, the difference between an old basketball video game that shows its age and a title that holds up extremely well is that in the former, every player tends to play the same. Whether it’s their speed, shooting ability, or another part of their game, they might as well be generic. Of course, in games like Double Dribble, they were! It worked there, but NBA games that utilised real players needed to accurately represent their skills and athleticism.

This led to the implementation of player ratings, many of which became standard across basketball video games. As games became more sophisticated, ratings alone weren’t enough. Player-specific moves and animations, as well as tendencies, helped games take the next step. There needed to be a mechanic that went beyond ratings, though; something that represented an uncanny knack or specialised skill. These days, NBA 2K achieves this through the use of Badges. Before Badges however, we had Signature Skills. In some ways, they were better than their successors. If nothing else, they paved the way for them. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: Year 3 in NBA 2K14 MyCAREER

Monday Tip-Off: Year 3 in NBA 2K14 MyCAREER

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Join me as I begin the week here at the NLSC with my opinions and commentary on basketball gaming topics, as well as tales of the fun I’ve been having on the virtual hardwood. This week, I’m tipping things off with a recap of Year 3 in my ongoing NBA 2K14 MyCAREER.

How enthusiastic was I to dive into Year 3 of my NBA 2K14 MyCAREER game? Well, it was only at the end of March that I was recapping Year 2, and noting how the adventure continues in the mode. By mid May, I’d played through another 82 games, and tipped off my third postseason. I found myself under the weather with a couple of illnesses and ailments this past month, and playing MyCAREER served as “comfort food”. I was already keenly playing through the third season from the time I posted my last recap, but that did allow the journey to move along even swifter.

Entering Year 3 of NBA 2K14 MyCAREER, I had a few goals. I wanted to beat the previous year’s record of 72-10, establishing a new mark for excellence in the regular season. Obviously, I wanted to win a third consecutive championship, and take home another MVP trophy. While I’d already averaged a triple-double in Year 2, ticking off that familiar goal, it was still my aim to post big numbers once again. However, I also had some – shall we say – less selfish goals. I also wanted to get Carmelo Anthony more involved in the offense, and to help Terry Hanson win the Rookie of the Year award. So, how did Year 3 of my NBA 2K14 MyCAREER ultimately turn out?

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NLSC Top 10 Plays of the Week: May 28th, 2022

NLSC Top 10 Plays of the Week

Get ready for more fantastic highlights from the basketball gaming community in the NLSC Top 10 Plays of the Week, curated by Dee4Three! New and old games alike are featured in this celebration of spectacular moments on the virtual hardwood. To submit your clips, post them in this topic, or hit up Dee on Twitter.

What’s on tap in this week’s NLSC Top 10 Plays? Deadeye shooters splashing deep threes from way downtown. Driving dunks, putbacks, and alley-oop finishes that leave the rim shaking. And, a very Jordanesque move from Michael Jordan himself, in an 80s vs 90s clash in NBA Live 06. Six different games are represented in this week’s countdown, once again underscoring the variety of titles that the community is enjoying. As always, if you’re looking for something to pump you up to play some basketball games this weekend, our Top 10 is just what you need!

What was your favourite highlight this week? Sound off in the comments below, and once again, get in on the fun by sending us your best plays! Remember, as long as it’s a basketball game, it’s eligible for the countdown. Also, don’t forget to subscribe to us on YouTube for more basketball gaming videos.

The Friday Five: 5 Ways Your Turnovers Are Inflated

The Friday Five: 5 Ways Your Turnovers Are Inflated

Welcome to another edition of The Friday Five! Every Friday I cover a topic related to basketball gaming, either as a list of five items, or a Top 5 countdown. The topics for these lists and countdowns include everything from fun facts and recollections to commentary and critique. This week’s Five is a list of five ways that your turnovers will be inflated in basketball video games.

In an era where stat-padding is encouraged – in real life and on the virtual hardwood – the turnovers column is one that you don’t want to fill. They indicate ballhandling blunders, and only serve to help the other team; especially live ball turnovers! Of course, a perfect game is easier said than done, as mistakes will happen. If you look at some of the best playmakers throughout NBA history, you’ll see that their turnovers are often high. The downside of handling the ball so often is that you will be targeted by master thieves, and you’ll have more passes to be intercepted or mishandled.

Turnovers in sim basketball games generally reflect the ways that players cough up the ball in real life, but the numbers can be inflated. The goal of representing real life mistakes can lead to contrived situations where the ability to keep control of the ball and make smart decisions is taken out of the user’s hands. In the worst case scenario, this leads to losses when the game decides that despite doing everything correctly, the user will commit a costly turnover at an inopportune moment. If nothing else, it will lead to inflated numbers that don’t quite tell the truth about a gamer’s ability to take care of the rock. Here are five ways that your turnovers are bound to be inflated.

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Wayback Wednesday: NBA Returns After Extended Absences (Part 2)

Wayback Wednesday: NBA Returns After Extended Absences (Part 2)

This is Wayback Wednesday, your midweek blast from the past! From retrospectives of basketball games and their interesting features, to republished articles and looking at NBA history through the lens of the virtual hardwood, Wednesdays at the NLSC are for going back in time. This week, I’m taking a look back at some more NBA players that made returns after extended absences from the league.

The time has come to profile another group of players that made returns to the NBA after several years, and the video games that reflected those comebacks. Well, for the most part. Some of these NBA returns occurred after the rosters were finalised, and thus the players appeared in the following year’s games, usually after their comeback run had concluded. And, while it’s probably giving away one of the examples, at least one of them occurred long before video games, thus it has no official representation on the virtual hardwood.

Because my aim is to revisit these moments in NBA history through the lens of video games, I was originally on the fence about including such examples. However, there are good stories and interesting trivia to share, and for the most part, I’m adhering to the original aim. Once again, credit to The BBall Pundit on Twitter for suggesting this topic! Let’s take a look back…way back…

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