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The Friday Five

The Friday Five: 5 Players Who Only Appeared on Certain Teams in Games (Part 21)

The Friday Five: 5 Players Who Only Appeared on Certain Teams in Games (Part 21)

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 Part 21 in an ongoing series looking at players who only appeared on certain teams in video games.

Remember when I said this series was done with Part 20? I lied! Well, to be fair, I did say that it was done “for now”. Part 20 was the last instalment that I had planned coming into 2024, as it’s been my intention to move on to other topics here in The Friday Five. However, I did leave the door open for a Part 21 at least, as thanks to David L’s help and my own research/serendipitous discoveries, there are some more examples to discuss. Even though I would like to explore some other topics, there’s no sense in delaying this postscript instalment.

Unlike Part 20, I don’t have a consistent theme for this group of players who only appeared on certain teams in games. As it stands, I was lucky that I still had five players whose phantom stints could all be found in NBA Live 2000 in order to give Part 20 an added motif. At this point, I’ve also covered the biggest names and most prominent examples of players who only appeared on certain teams in games. Of course, the more obscure names are still worth talking about, especially as they can jog the memories of long-time fans who haven’t thought about those players in years. With that being said, let’s take a look at five more phantom stints…for now…honest!

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The Friday Five: 5 Additions That Would’ve Greatly Improved Games

The Friday Five: 5 Additions That Would've Greatly Improved Games

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 additions that would’ve greatly improved specific basketball video games.

We’ve yet to see a truly perfect basketball video game. That’s not surprising since true perfection is an unrealistic goal, and we all have our own ideas as to what that would entail besides. We have had some fantastic sim and arcade basketball games though, with the NBA Live, NBA 2K, NBA Jam, and NBA Street series all offering up some candidates for the best hoops titles of all-time. However, much as many of the all-time great players have had a weakness or two, the best basketball video games are often missing a feature or mode that would’ve made them even better.

Interestingly, it’s not just the all-time best basketball video games that feasibly could have been improved by just one addition. There are some very good and even a few mediocre games whose overall quality and reputations would be greatly impacted by the addition of a key feature or mode. It might not quite push them into the upper echelon of virtual hardwood classics, but hypothetically, they suddenly become far more appealing and playable with one big addition. I’ve selected five hoops games of varying quality, and nominated a major addition – one per game – that I believe either pushes them closer to “perfection”, or results in the most significant improvement.

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The Friday Five: 5 Times My Games Imitated Real Moves (Part 2)

The Friday Five: 5 Times My Games Imitated Real Moves (Part 2)

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 recalls another five times I encountered real life moves being made by CPU-controlled teams in my games.

As I’ve previously discussed, it’s difficult to determine what constitutes a realistic or unrealistic trade or signing by CPU-controlled teams in franchise and career modes. After all, the real NBA has seen a number of lopsided deals, unexpected departures, and unlikely reunions. At the same time, too many highly unlikely deals, or downright illogical moves such as readily trading away your best player in the midst of a good season, are examples of unrealistic trades that sim heads don’t want to see. Still, we have to acknowledge that reality can sometimes be stranger than fiction!

To that end, some of the real moves that have coincidentally happened in my career and franchise mode games might seem far-fetched, if not for the fact that they came to pass. While four of the examples that I’m sharing today happened after the fact, one of the moves did actually occur in my game before it became a reality, making it eerily prophetic. Whether they serve as surprisingly accurate predictions or they’re simply fun coincidences, I do enjoy seeing CPU-controlled teams making moves that turned out (or will turn out) to be real; even if they don’t involve any big names. With that being said, let’s get to five more examples of my games imitating real NBA moves!

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The Friday Five: 5 Reasons I Won’t Stop Retro Gaming

The Friday Five: 5 Reasons I Won't Stop Retro Gaming

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 why I have no intention of putting a stop to my retro basketball gaming habits.

One of the best things that I’ve done to enhance my enjoyment of basketball gaming in recent years is to avoid the annual grind in MyCAREER, freeing up time to play some old favourites. Dee has obviously been a great influence in that regard, as we’ve connected to play a variety of classics over Parsec. It’s reminded me of how I used to enjoy going back to older games or sticking with one for more than a year, especially when I was disappointed with the latest release. Of course, my enthusiasm for retro basketball gaming has now made it tougher to spend time with newer games.

I have no regrets, though. I still gave NBA 2K23 and NBA 2K24 ample opportunity to impress, knowing that they might not, and that I had other options if they didn’t. To dust off a very old but nevertheless wise saying, I’ve learned to not put all of my eggs in one basket. I don’t feel defeated or robbed of a good time if the latest NBA 2K isn’t entirely to my liking. Beyond my interest in other genres, I have a huge collection of basketball games to fall back on if I’m itching to hit the virtual hardwood. While I do obviously have an interest in the future of basketball gaming, I’m finding plenty of reasons to return to old favourites, as well as seek out some new ones. Here are five!

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The Friday Five: 5 Players Who Only Appeared on Certain Teams in Games (Part 20)

The Friday Five: 5 Players Who Only Appeared on Certain Teams in Games (Part 20)

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 Part 20 in an ongoing series looking at players who only appeared on certain teams in video games.

At long last, we’ve reached the end of this second run of Friday Five articles looking at players who only appeared on certain teams in games, for one reason or another! The series was actually intended to finish much earlier – at least for the short term – but thanks to the help of David L, I ended up with numerous examples that were just too interesting not to discuss. As I didn’t want to scrap the articles I’d already written and the fun stories they included, this second series of articles has ultimately spanned an entire year, becoming a fun recurring topic for the last Friday of each month.

All good things must come to an end though, so this is it for now; famous last words, I know! There are definitely more examples, but I’ve basically covered the biggest names and most interesting stories; a total of one hundred players, as of Part 20! It’s time to move on to some other topics, but we are ending this second run of articles about players who only appeared on certain teams in video games on an interesting note. All five examples this time around are from NBA Live 2000 PC, with one of the players also boasting a second phantom stint in the original NBA 2K. So, let’s take a look at five more phantom stints that have been captured on the virtual hardwood!

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The Friday Five: 5 Evergreen Issues with NBA 2K

The Friday Five: 5 Evergreen Issues with NBA 2K

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 issues with NBA 2K that are seemingly evergreen.

Since I’ve taken a look at some evergreen issues with the NBA Live series, it’s time to examine similar problems with NBA 2K. Obviously, NBA 2K is a powerhouse in the basketball gaming space, with a virtual monopoly on sim titles. Even in the years that NBA Live was released during the past generation, the NBA 2K series outsold it by a significant margin to say the least. The competition hasn’t been close in terms of sales and critical reception since 2008, in large part because NBA 2K has maintained a high level of quality, while NBA Live has suffered from its own evergreen issues.

However, there are definitely problems that continue to plague NBA 2K to this day. They’re in too comfortable of a position to fail, which once again is the result of them maintaining a generally pleasing level of quality through the years. At the same time, these evergreen issues do affect the quality of NBA 2K games, as well as the overall image of the series. As NBA Live stumbled, NBA 2K became the darling for hoops gamers and the yardstick for its genre. Without competition though, its flaws have been exposed, and its reputation has been tarnished. The evergreen issues that NBA 2K has failed to address are responsible for that, so let’s take a look at five of them.

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The Friday Five: 5 Evergreen Issues with NBA Live

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 issues with NBA Live that were seemingly evergreen.

When we look at the struggles that NBA Live endured for over a decade, there are two levels to our critique. The first concerns the minutia of the games; the hands-on experience, from gameplay to game modes. In other words, the technical issues and specific design choices that have resulted in titles which failed to live up to ours or EA’s expectations. That’s an important conversation to have, especially when we’ve compiled Wishlists, or otherwise sent in feedback to the developers. However, there’s also a second level in which we evaluate concepts and approach.

It’s at the conceptual level that you’ll find many evergreen issues with the NBA Live series, which have served to hold it back and take it in bad directions. It isn’t a case of laziness, a lack of knowledge, or even resources, though it could be argued that NBA Live has never received the same support from EA Sports brass as its other franchises. There are common mistakes that are present in all of the problematic NBA Live titles though, and even some of the best releases still suffer from these evergreen issues. A comeback for NBA Live will require many specific fixes and additions from a virtual basketball perspective, but conceptually, it must also break the cycle on these trends.

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The Friday Five: 5 Corrections to Previous Articles (Part 2)

The Friday Five: 5 Corrections to Previous Articles (Part 2)

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 provides five further corrections to some of my previous articles.

Many years back, I was having a spirited conversation in the Forum with one of our veteran members about some current event in the NBA. I mistakenly believed that I accurately recalled a statistic off the top of my head, which was the whole basis of my argument. I had no choice but to concede when I was fact-checked, at which point said Forum veteran – who frankly had an unhealthy love of debate and dislike for ever agreeing with anyone – scolded me for giving up too easily. I asked him, what did he want me to do? My position was based on an error. Debate over, first round knockout!

Unfortunately, online discourse is too frequently about performative debate. I wasn’t about to double-down on my own fallacious argument that had been disproven, and that meant I wasn’t playing the role that was expected of me. That’s too bad, because I have no interest in getting roped into that game! Similarly, I never want to be one of those content creators that refuse to admit when I’ve made a mistake, and I do make them! As I said when I previously made some corrections to a few of my articles, I like to think that I know my stuff and do my due diligence, but I have slipped up. As the saying goes, “fess up when you mess up”, so here are five more corrections!

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The Friday Five: 5 Players Who Only Appeared on Certain Teams in Games (Part 19)

The Friday Five: 5 Players Who Only Appeared on Certain Teams in Games (Part 19)

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 Part 19 in an ongoing series looking at players who only appeared on certain teams in video games.

In Part 18 last month, I covered a couple of well-known players who only appeared on certain teams in video games, including an example from last season. For Part 19, I’m going back a bit further, with the most recent phantom stint occurring during the 2015 campaign. The older examples are also more obscure names that even hardcore NBA fans likely haven’t thought about in years. I do enjoy discussing those players though, as I’m sure that I’m not the only one that gets a nostalgic kick out of seeing or hearing the name of a long-forgotten journeyman that was once a mainstay in the league!

The fifth example – the one from the 2015 season – is the only player to have enjoyed a lengthy NBA career, which included an All-Star appearance and a couple of other honours. It’s obviously a good idea to include at least one player that we’ve all heard of and remember, but I’m also pleased with that example because it’s another one that I encountered by chance! As I’ve said before, David L has been extremely helpful in pointing out many players that needed to be covered in this series, but it’s always fun when serendipity delivers another name to me. With that being said, let’s get to the next group of five players whose phantom stints have been preserved in video games!

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The Friday Five: 5 Interesting Basketball Game Comparisons

The Friday Five: 5 Interesting Basketball Game Comparisons

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 drawing some interesting comparisons between five pairs of basketball video games.

It’s difficult to make comparisons these days without stepping on anyone’s toes, or drawing pedantic complaints if the likenesses are imperfect, or esoteric. Consider the scorn that Phil Jackson received when he compared Steph Curry to Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf. Many fans sneered because Curry has reached greater heights than Abdul-Rauf ever did, putting up bigger numbers and achieving more fame and success. However, Jackson’s comparison was apt in the way that he meant it: their styles and the way they got shots off are very similar. He wasn’t saying the two were equals as players.

Comparisons are not always one-to-one, and they are not meant to suggest that the objects in question are identical. To refer to the old “apples and oranges” idiom, while there are many ways in which they aren’t comparable, apples and oranges are both fruit that grow on trees. Also, along with bananas, they’re a commonly recognised and popular fruit compared to, say, durians. My point is that while some of the basketball game comparisons I’m making here today may seem bizarre, there are interesting commonalities in their quality, approach, and vibe. I’m not saying that these games are completely alike, but rather in some ways, they’re oddly reminiscent of each other.

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The Friday Five: 5 Changes That Fix MyCAREER Stories

The Friday Five: 5 Changes That Fix MyCAREER Stories

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 outlines five changes that would fix some of the stories in MyCAREER.

As I’ve mentioned on several occasions, I have a love-hate relationship with the story-driven approach to MyCAREER. I can appreciate the production values and some of them have been enjoyable tales, but others have been poorly-written and intruded on the gameplay experience. I’ve made snarky jokes about them, but I also find them fascinating to analyse. Perhaps it’s because it feels like the concept of a MyCAREER story has so much promise, but the execution has too often hindered my enjoyment, or just been somewhat disappointing.

While I don’t believe in dismissing criticism with “let’s see you do better”, I do think that critique can be bolstered by identifying potential improvements. In other words, the fact that I’ve never written and produced a MyCAREER story doesn’t disqualify me from having an opinion on them, but I should be able to suggest ways in which the stories could improve rather than just dismissively calling them bad. On top of that, it’s an interesting exercise to consider just how much we’d need to change in order to provide – in my opinion, at least – a much better experience. With that being said, I’m going to give it a shot! Here are five changes that I’d make to MyCAREER stories.

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The Friday Five: 5 Times My Franchise Games & Real Life Imitated Each Other

The Friday Five: 5 Times My Franchise Games & Real Life Imitated Each Other

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 recalls five times that my franchise games and the real NBA imitated each other.

Last week, I recalled five times when real moves made their way into my games, thanks to trades and signings that were initiated by CPU-controlled teams. They were special because obviously, I had nothing to do with them. The AI just happened to make moves that placed players on teams that they’ve played for since those games were released. Conversely, when I don my virtual GM suit in a franchise mode and mimic trades and signings that occurred in real life, it isn’t nearly as remarkable. It’s a situation where we gamers have greater control and influence, after all.

However, it’s still fun to inject some realism into your franchise gaming by taking cues from real life transactions. Indeed, before I made a blockbuster deal to acquire Kevin Garnett in my memorable NBA Live 2004 Dynasty, I considered making the trade that brought Jalen Rose and Antonio Davis to the Chicago Bulls, even testing it out to see if the CPU would accept (as it happens, it did). There have also been times where real life has imitated what was once a fictional move in one of my franchise games, which has been entertaining to see. These five examples of times where my franchise games and real life imitated each other comprise both of those scenarios.

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The Friday Five: 5 Times My Games Imitated Real Moves

The Friday Five: 5 Times My Games Imitated Real Moves

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 recalls five times that I encountered real life moves being made by CPU-controlled teams in my games.

One of the oldest Wishlist requests when it comes to franchise modes is that they feature realistic player movement. This is actually an interesting concept, because many of the moves that we see in real life would probably be considered unrealistic if they occurred in a franchise or career mode game! Teams frequently don’t get equal value when they trade big name players, as the circumstances that result in superstar for superstar swaps are generally rare. Familiar faces end up in strange places, there are unexpected reunions, and loyalty between teams and players is often eroded.

With that in mind, with so many deals that once seemed so unlikely, who’s to say what constitutes realistic player movement in a video game? In fact, I’ve encountered moves made by CPU-controlled teams that, if they hadn’t happened in real life, would probably strike me as unrealistic. Indeed, playing through five seasons and counting in NBA 2K14 PS4’s MyCAREER has resulted in a number of such moves! They may differ in terms of the exact players involved and when they occurred, but the game’s trade and free agency logic still made moves that it couldn’t have known were coming when it was released. Here are five examples of my games imitating real life moves.

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The Friday Five: 5 Players Who Only Appeared on Certain Teams in Games (Part 18)

5 Players Who Only Appeared on Certain Teams in Games (Part 18)

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 Part 18 in an ongoing series looking at players who only appeared on certain teams in video games.

In Part 17, I covered three big names that only appeared on certain teams in video games: Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol, and DeMarcus Cousins. The five players that I’m covering today didn’t reach the same heights – not even close in fact – but there are at least two names that I’m confident everyone will recognise, as they had long and fairly successful careers. Indeed, number five on the list was very popular, despite never being an All-Star. If you were into the NBA around 2008, there’s a good chance that you’ll remember the story behind his phantom stint.

There are some interesting stories with the other four players on the list as well. The first player is the most recent example of a player who ended up with a phantom stint. The second player’s phantom stint came about due to an acrimonious departure from the NBA. The third player is frequently in the shadow of his far more famous and successful college teammates. The fourth player is a journeyman who played for eight different teams during his career. Can you guess the five players based on those hints? I’m sure some of you have picked up on a couple of them already, so let’s get to the list! Once again, a huge thanks to David L for his help in finding several examples.

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The Friday Five: 5 Best Shout Outs to Previous Games

The Friday Five: 5 Best Shout Outs to Previous Games

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 the five best shout outs that basketball games have made to previous entries in their series.

Who doesn’t appreciate a good callback? Whether it’s an Easter egg/fleeting reference or something more prominent, continuity never goes astray. This applies to video games as much as books, films, and television shows, especially as the medium has strived to improve its storytelling across various genres. Whether it’s a cameo like Harold’s appearance in Fallout 3, a peek at an era from a previous game as in the Monkey Island series, or the Elder Scrolls’ running gag about stolen sweetrolls, they’re an enjoyable part of video game lore and exploration.

Needless to say, basketball video games and other annual sports titles are a little different. By their very concept, they have numerous sequels and there are several similarities between games, right down to the players as long as they’re active or on a classic team. In other words, the ubiquitous aspects of the genre don’t count as shout outs to previous games. However, various basketball video games have found ways to celebrate their lineage, or feature a unique nod to their predecessors. These shout outs to previous games may be minor and we wouldn’t necessarily miss them if they weren’t there, but oftentimes they’re the fun details that make a game feel special.

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