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NLSC Podcast #302: 25th Anniversary of NBA Live (Part 2)

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Episode #302 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! This week, it’s Part 2 of our celebration of the 25th Anniversary of NBA Live. Join Dee4Three and I as we cover NBA Live 07 through to NBA Live 19, look ahead to the future, and reflect on the series as a whole. If you haven’t caught Part 1 yet, be sure to tune in here!

We continue our conversation with a look back at NBA Live 07, a strong candidate for the worst game in the series. As we proceed to break down each game year by year, we reflect on the downfall of NBA Live, and the mistakes that have led to its continued struggles. We discuss what could have been, from the cut retro teams in NBA Live 08 and the full season version of Be a Pro in NBA Live 09 on PS2, to the disastrous change of direction with NBA Elite 11 and cancellation of NBA Live 13. The importance and selection criteria for cover players also comes up, and we reveal the NBA Live 13 cover player that was never officially announced. That brings us to the current generation as we recap the series’ ups and downs since returning with NBA Live 14, and how it’s looking as of NBA Live 19. Once again, we touch on what we want to see in NBA Live 21 and beyond. We wrap up with our fondest memories of NBA Live, our favourite games in the series, and thoughts on what it’s meant to us these past 25 years.

Tune in below!

What are your memories of NBA Live 07 through NBA Live 19? What are your thoughts on the future of the series? Sound off in the comments section below, or join in the discussion here in the Forum! Additionally, feel free to hit us up with any feedback on the episode, as well as suggestions for topics that you’d like to hear us discuss in future episodes. For more information on the NLSC Podcast including episode guides, check out this page in our Wiki.

The Friday Five: 5 Types of Retro Content We Haven’t Seen Yet

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 retro content that we haven’t seen in basketball video games yet.

For over twenty years, we’ve seen some form of retro content in contemporary hoops games. It began with the inclusion of Legends and Decade All-Stars teams in NBA Live and NBA 2K around the turn of the millennium, and exploded with the addition of historical squads thanks to The Jordan Challenge and NBA’s Greatest. Since then we’ve also seen the addition of All-Time teams for every NBA franchise, the return of All-Decade squads in NBA 2K20, pre-built historical Draft Classes, and the inclusion of retro content in MyTEAM. Everything’s been done, right?

Not quite! I can think of at least five examples of retro content that we haven’t seen in NBA Live or NBA 2K yet, but I’d love to see implemented at some point. Some of it is easier said than done, and with the current backlash against nostalgia and the NBA of the 80s and 90s – all that “plumbers and dentists” nonsense – it probably isn’t a high priority for Visual Concepts or EA Sports. Nevertheless, these ideas are always fun to discuss, and who knows; some day, a couple of these ideas may become a reality! It never hurts to have extra content in the game – particularly for modding purposes – and with that in mind, here are some untapped ideas for retro content.

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Wayback Wednesday: The Weird Virtual Career of Junior Harrington

Wayback Wednesday: The Weird Virtual Career of Junior Harrington

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 rather unusual string of appearances former NBA player Junior Harrington made in video games.

I love finding little quirks and oddities in old basketball video games that make for interesting trivia notes. Sometimes it’s serendipity, as I find them when I’m revisiting a game for another topic altogether, and that’s immensely satisfying. Other times, an idea will come to me and I’ll have to dust off various games to do some research, and that’s always fun as well. This is how I’ve come up with lists of players who have appeared in more video games than actual NBA games, players who only appear for certain teams in games, and other unusual occurrences on the virtual hardwood.

In that vein, how about a player who tended to appear more often in video games when he wasn’t actually in the league, but was still active? That player is Lorinza “Junior” Harrington, who had a brief NBA career from 2002 to 2007. His career in the virtual NBA was quite unusual, and to date, I don’t think there have been many other players – if any – who have found themselves in quite the same situation. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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NLSC Podcast #301: 25th Anniversary of NBA Live (Part 1)

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Episode #301 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! This is Part 1 of a two-part episode, as Dee4Three and I celebrate the 25th Anniversary of NBA Live. We’re covering the series’ origins through to NBA Live 06 in Part 1, with retrospectives, trivia, and personal memories. Be sure to catch Part 2 next week, when we cover NBA Live 07 through to the present!

To mark the 25th Anniversary of NBA Live, we’re taking a look back at the history of the series with retrospectives and other fun content. We’re extending those deep dive retrospectives to the NLSC Podcast, as we start at the beginning with the precursor to the NBA Live series: Lakers vs. Celtics. From there, we move on to the game that started it all – NBA Live 95 – and go through the series year by year, discussing improvements to gameplay, debuting features, modding, and the overall evolution of the series. Along the way, we share some personal anecdotes of our time with the earlier titles, and compare them to the other releases they were competing with. We also discuss how and why the quality of the early NBA Live games is too often forgotten. Part 1 ends with NBA Live 06, a significant turning point for the series that it’s still feeling the effects of today.

Tune in below!

What are your memories of NBA Live 95 through NBA Live 06? Sound off in the comments section below, or join in the discussion here in the Forum! Additionally, feel free to hit us up with any feedback on the episode, as well as suggestions for topics that you’d like to hear us discuss in future episodes. For more information on the NLSC Podcast including episode guides, check out this page in our Wiki.

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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NLSC Podcast #300: Hunters & Collectors

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Episode #300 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! Join Dee4Three and myself as we mark the 300th episode of the NLSC Podcast with a conversation about some recent controversies in the community, the thought-terminating cliches that bother us, Basketball Classics, and the joy of collecting basketball video games, new and old.

As we celebrate 300 episodes, we reflect on one of our favourite shows: our interview with Tim Kitzrow back in Episode #280. Recalling his passion for NBA Jam, we’re reminded of how it’s too easy to be dismissive of what came before as pure nostalgia – on the real and virtual hardwood alike – and resort to cliched buzzwords to shut down criticism of newer things. That leads us to note the fantastic fusion of the old and new with Basketball Classics, as we share some more impressions of the game. After touching on the recent hack of NBA 2K accounts and issues with ad links in our modding community, we finally get to our featured discussion topic: collecting basketball video games. We talk about our collections, the process of tracking down older titles, the problems that digital content and releases present for collectors, and the fun of playing our old favourites and checking out games we missed out on the first time around.

Tune in below!

What are your thoughts on the recent controversies? Do you consider yourself a collector of basketball video games? Sound off in the comments section below, or join in the discussion here in the Forum! Additionally, feel free to hit us up with any feedback on the episode, as well as suggestions for topics that you’d like to hear us discuss in future episodes. For more information on the NLSC Podcast including episode guides, check out this page in our Wiki.

NLSC Podcast #299: What Basketball Gamers Want

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Episode #299 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! Dee4Three joins me again as we react to the recent announcement that the NBA Live 15 servers will soon be shutting down, and have an in-depth discussion about what basketball gamers want out of the hobby.

EA Sports has announced that the NBA Live 15 servers will be shutting down as of December 1st, 2019. We react to the timing of the announcement compared to the NBA Live 14 shutdown, and reflect a little on NBA Live 15 itself. This leads to some thoughts on why we dust off older titles, and sometimes seeing them in a new light (and sometimes not). Our feature discussion this week is a deep dive into what basketball gamers want; not just expectations of the virtual hardwood and blacktop, but also our relationship with developers, and approach to game design. We also talk about toxic attitudes, and how we clash with one another over what we want out of the basketball gaming experience.

Tune in below!

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

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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Monday Tip-Off: When The Idea Is More Fun

Monday Tip-Off: When The Idea Is More Fun

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 an idea for a franchise mode game can turn out to be less fun than it originally seemed.

As I’ve mentioned before, this year I’m intending to move away from MyCAREER and return to my roots as a franchise gamer. A generation ago, I was unsatisfied with NBA Live’s Dynasty mode as it lagged behind NBA 2K’s offering, an issue that I still have with EA’s game. I ended up missing out on the quality franchise experience that Association provided as by the time I got into the NBA 2K series, career modes felt fresher, and vital for online team play. I’m ready to return to franchise gaming though, and with the depth of MyLEAGUE, my previous complaints shouldn’t be an issue.

However, there’s a hurdle beyond the depth and quality of a franchise mode: your idea for your game, the scenario you want to create for yourself. If you’re invested in the team you’ve chosen and the situation you find yourself in, you’ll be hooked on your franchise game. Conversely, if the appeal of the scenario quickly wears off, you’ll be far more likely to abandon your franchise within the first five to ten games. On the surface, the solution is to carefully consider all aspects of your franchise game as you set it up, and avoid an unappealing scenario. Unfortunately, all that foresight goes out the window when a seemingly fun idea turns out to be less appealing than expected.

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Wayback Wednesday: How We Used to Create Rosters

1996 Mod for NBA Live 2004: Michael Jordan

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 way we used to create current and retro rosters for NBA Live.

Back when we were the NBA Live Series Center, our founders described the site as “the official home of the Roster Patches and the NBA Live Editors for Windows”. In those days, there were no official rosters pushed through by EA Sports, and limited in-game editing facilities. Modding existed before the NLSC, and the PC versions of NBA Live for that matter, but it’s fair to say that the efforts of Tim, Lutz, and Brien were instrumental in bringing the hobby to the virtual hardwood. It certainly blew my mind when I discovered the NLSC, and I was inspired to make my own rosters.

Of course, even with the editors that our founders created, it wasn’t always easy. I’ve talked about the technical aspects of editing those early games, and some of the tools that made it possible. In this week’s Wayback Wednesday, I’d like to reflect on the process of making rosters; in other words, how we found the necessary information that made those projects possible. It’s a process that’s become a lot easier as online resources have expanded, but back then, we had to hunt around a little more. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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The Friday Five: 5 Excuses We Must Stop Making For 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 excuses that we must stop making in order to downplay valid criticisms of basketball video games.

There are times when it’s only fair to make excuses for basketball video games. There are limitations to what can be achieved with the technology that’s currently available. Issues with likeness rights meant that certain historical players can’t be included. NBA games have a brutal development cycle compared to titles that don’t come out every year. In fact, you might be inclined to call these “reasons”, as the term “excuses” often has negative connotations. It’s splitting hairs on the definition in some respects, but it’s understandable that some people balk at the idea of “making excuses”.

The problem with excuses is that they can easily work against our best interests. If we don’t hold developers accountable for certain decisions and design choices, then we’ll have no choice but to endure whatever undesirable situation we find ourselves in with basketball video games. Look, I’d like to think that I’m as passionate about the hobby as anyone else in the community, and I also believe in being fair and constructive in our criticism. It’s just astonishing how far some people will go to make excuses for the games though, even when an issue is clearly detrimental to them. These are the excuses that we need to cut out, or else we’ll continue to suffer the consequences.

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Monday Tip-Off: Stealing Is Such an Ugly Word

Monday Tip-Off: Stealing Is Such an Ugly 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 recent suggestions that NBA 2K is stealing ideas and features from NBA Live.

Before the NBA 2K20 preview season tipped off, there was understandably a certain amount of scepticism about this year’s release. As a new generation of consoles looms on the horizon, many of us had expected it to be a throwaway year for NBA 2K; just a roster update and a few token bells and whistles ahead of a big jump next year. Based on what we’ve seen so far, however, that doesn’t appear to be the case. While most of us are reserving final judgement until we get our hands on the game, there has been a lot of good news so far in the preview season.

Of course, it hasn’t escaped notice that some of the features outlined in the previews so far bear a similarity to elements of NBA Live, past and present. Responses have varied somewhat, but there is a very vocal contingent of NBA Live fans that seem to be perturbed by the situation. Perhaps it’s because EA’s series is finally picking up some steam and support after years of being a punchline under 2K’s dominance, but there’s an eagerness to point out features and mechanics that were in NBA Live first, and accuse NBA 2K of stealing them. Don’t get me wrong; it’s nice to see passionate support for NBA Live, but I just can’t join in the outrage.

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Wayback Wednesday: Mystery Teaser Covers

Wayback Wednesday: Mystery Teaser Covers

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 mystery teaser covers that used to get us talking about upcoming cover player reveals.

As discussed in Episode #291 of the NLSC Podcast, there’s currently a bit of worried speculation regarding NBA Live 20, due to a lack of news. While there’s evidence to suggest that those concerns are jumping the gun, it is unusual that there haven’t been any official announcements regarding this year’s expected release from EA Sports. It isn’t the first time that news about NBA Live has been slow, or that the cover player ended up being announced quite late, but given the series’ rocky history over the past decade, the speculation is at least understandable.

Speaking of cover players and reveals, that’s something which has become a much bigger deal than it used to be a long time ago. Back in the 90s, long before basketball titles and gaming in general became the juggernaut of today, there wasn’t nearly as much importance placed on the cover player. A star was generally preferred, but it wasn’t always a top tier player. Quite a few games settled for “someone who’s in the NBA”, who may or may not have a chance at becoming a superstar. It wasn’t until NBA Live 2003 that the cover player was a big part of the pre-release hype, which also started a trend of mystery teaser covers. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: Balancing Positivity & Negativity

LeBron James dunks in NBA 2K19

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 the delicate act of balancing the amount of positivity and negativity as a content creator.

There’s a reason that I’m still running the NLSC going on eighteen years this August. There’s a reason I decided that I would take the risk on paying for our own hosting after our previous host discontinued their services, and it looked like we might have to shut down after twenty years online. Basketball video games are still a hobby that I enjoy, and enjoy to the extent that I want to create content as part of a community that I discovered way back in 1997. The NLSC was one of my favourite sites before I took over running it, and since that time, it’s become a gratifying creative outlet for me.

I’ve enjoyed establishing original content beyond mods and basketball gaming news: the NLSC Podcast, The Friday Five, Wayback Wednesday, and this feature, Monday Tip-Off. I like covering a variety of topics in these features, from advice and stories about what I’m playing, to constructive articles about improving the games and what I hope is interesting trivia. I’m always aiming for variety in the games that I talk about, but I’m not just balancing coverage between NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other titles. As I discuss all manner of topics regarding basketball video games, I’m trying my best to maintain a healthy balance between positivity and negativity in my features.

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Wayback Wednesday: Running With the Bulls in the Early 2000s

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 difficulty of running with the Chicago Bulls in video games of the early 2000s.

Dusting off old favourites and other interesting hoops titles from yesteryear makes me feel old myself, but that doesn’t compare to the knowledge that my favourite team, the Chicago Bulls, are twenty-one years removed from their most recent championship. It was an incredible time to be a Bulls fan in the 90s, though it has made the subsequent ups and downs quite frustrating to endure at times. It’s been difficult watching them miss out on top free agents, lose their own promising players through free agency or questionable trades, and endure misfortune such as Derrick Rose’s multiple injuries.

Of course, the virtual hardwood is a place where frustrated NBA fans can turn around the fortunes of their favourite team, and I’ve created some fun memories running with the virtual Bulls over the years. In the aftermath of The Last Dance, I’ve overachieved with the Baby Bulls in my memorable NBA Live 2004 and NBA Live 06 Dynasties. More recently, I’ve taken them to back-to-back championships in MyCAREER. In the early 2000s however, it was rough playing with them in video games, as I’m sure my fellow long-time gamers and Bulls fans can attest. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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