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Wayback Wednesday

Wayback Wednesday: Familiar Faces in Strange Places (Part 2)

Wayback Wednesday: Familiar Faces in Strange Places (Part 2)

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 some more NBA players who became familiar faces in strange places, and those stints in video games.

As I said in my first Wayback Wednesday article covering this topic, there’s definitely something oddly fascinating in seeing familiar faces in strange places. We often claim that we wish that those stints didn’t happen or that we could forget all about them, yet they’re burned into our memories. It’s hard to forget something that looks strange and out of place, and that certainly describes the image of players wearing the uniform of a team other than the one we associate them with the most. The time capsule-like nature of video games helps us to remember – and also replay – these unusual stints.

I mentioned that there were more examples than the ten I covered in my first article, and to that end, I have another ten to share today. This time, not all of the players were perennial All-Stars, but they are familiar names who ended up in strange places. In fact, a couple of these stints were so brief that the only way to experience them again on the virtual hardwood is to load very specific roster saves – assuming that you still have them, of course – or by recreating them. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Wayback Wednesday: NBA Live 08 Draft Camp & Summer Camp

Wayback Wednesday: NBA Live 08 Draft Camp & Summer Camp

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 NBA Live 08 Draft Camp and Summer Camp.

With NBA Live’s struggles over the past decade, it’s easy to forget – or indeed, not be aware of – just how popular the brand once was. Although NBA 2K received positive reviews since its inception, NBA Live remained the best-selling NBA sim up until the 2009 season, when NBA 2K9 edged out NBA Live 09 in sales. Even then, NBA Live remained competitive and popular among basketball gamers, until the cancellation of NBA Elite 11 changed the course of the series. As such, these days it’s NBA 2K that’s prominent in pop culture and the cool brand among NBA players and gamers alike.

Around the time of NBA Live 08 however, it was EA Sports that was touting their relationship with NBA players, and bringing them in for events. In fact, during the development of NBA Live 08, EA held two events that served as mo-cap sessions and a source of promotional materials: the Draft Camp, and the Summer Camp. A quick Google search reveals that there isn’t much in the way of information about or media from those events, so I thought it’d be fun to chronicle them for Wayback Wednesday. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Wayback Wednesday: International Cover Players

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 history of international cover players for various basketball video games.

Cover players are an aspect of basketball gaming that has become more important over time. The player on the box and the title screen may not always have much of an impact on the game beyond pre-order cosmetic items in career modes and a card in the team building modes, but they’re nevertheless a talking point. After all, the reveal of the cover player generally signifies the beginning of a new game’s preview season, tipping off weeks and months of discussion about what we’re hoping to see from an upcoming release.

As basketball games have increased in popularity, cover players have become selling points and an indication of a game’s brand strength, if not necessarily its quality. Both EA Sports and 2K Sports have sought to appeal to local markets with regional covers that feature a player from the country in question (or in a pinch, have some connection with said nation). They’ve resulted in the international editions of games becoming collector’s items due to their novelty, and are of course interesting trivia notes. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Wayback Wednesday: Players I Remember Because of Video Games (Part 4)

Wayback Wednesday: Players I Remember Because of Video Games (Part 4)

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 another selection of players that I remember primarily because of video games.

It’s time for Part 4 in an ongoing series for Wayback Wednesday, in which I take a look back at players that I remember thanks to basketball gaming. I’ve joked about it a few times before in articles and on the NLSC Podcast, but I can’t remember a single thing about quadratic equations or pretty much anything else I learned in high school maths. However, I can still recall the “dunk from anywhere” code for NBA Jam Tournament Edition on SNES, the location of bonus barrels and DK coins in Donkey Kong Country 2 and 3, and a ton of quotes from classic episodes of The Simpsons.

Oh, and a bunch of lesser known NBA players from the 90s and 2000s. I may have also seen them play in real games, and basketball cards have also played a role in helping certain players to stand out in my mind, but playing video games (and in particular, creating roster updates for them) is what truly embedded them into my memory. As I said, I’ve got another list of ten players to share today, so let’s take a look back…way back…

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Wayback Wednesday: A MyCAREER Scoop for NBA 2K16

Wayback Wednesday: A MyCAREER Scoop for NBA 2K16

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 recalling the time that I received a scoop about MyCAREER in NBA 2K16, which I ultimately didn’t publish.

Back in July of 2015, we were all awaiting further previews and details of what to expect from NBA 2K16. There had been rumours that MyCAREER would include some college gameplay, due to the leaked achievement list and research unearthing a licensing agreement between 2K Sports and the Collegiate Licensing Company. As screenshots continued to leak, it seemed increasingly likely that MyCAREER would indeed feature a collegiate career as part of its story. By September, trailers confirmed those details for Spike Lee’s MyCAREER joint, “Livin’ Da Dream“.

Although I was posting rumours and confirmed details alike as they made the rounds, there was one post that I didn’t make. An anonymous source sent me a scoop via the NLSC’s contact form, offering up snippets of information on what to expect from the MyCAREER story in NBA 2K16. Obviously anyone covering video games enjoys being able to break news and confirm rumours, but I was hesitant, and ultimately elected not to post a bulletin discussing those details. Why did I make that choice? Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Wayback Wednesday: Cover Players Who Changed Teams

Wayback Wednesday: Cover Players Who Changed Teams

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 cover players who changed teams not long after they made those appearances.

The choice of cover players is an aspect of basketball gaming that has become a bigger talking point since the early days of the hobby. The earliest NBA licensed basketball games tended to use photographs featuring a handful of players. Even in the late 90s, not all titles featured a single cover player, and more than a couple of cover players weren’t among the league’s elite. Since then, landing a big star has become an essential part of a game’s branding, and cover players have also influenced bonus content, including special game modes.

Sports game covers in general have their own lore and trivia. The infamous “Madden Curse” has been used to describe a string of misfortune suffered by NFL players who have appeared on the game’s cover. Basketball games have generally avoided such superstition, though a handful of players haven’t been so lucky. Arguably, it’s been their teams who’ve had the bad run of luck, as several cover players have ended up moving on not too long after becoming the face of NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other titles. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Wayback Wednesday: Familiar Faces in Strange Places

Wayback Wednesday: Familiar Faces in Strange Places

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 players who became familiar faces in strange places, and the games that captured those stints.

With the NBA season on hiatus, a lot of the conversation on Twitter has turned to historical debates and reminiscing. I’ve seen a couple of recent threads talking about big names who had brief stints with teams that are often overlooked and forgotten. Those Tweets have taken the form of facetious captions describing these familiar faces in strange places as a legend of the team in question, sometimes with a photo for emphasis. It’s an apt way of describing the oddity of those stints, many of which we’d rather pretend didn’t happen (or at least, claim to).

They did happen of course, and we’ve got the photos, footage, and records to prove it. We’ve also got basketball video games, which as I’ve grown fond of saying, act as time capsules and interactive almanacs. In a previous Wayback Wednesday article, I noted how video games have marked various milestones in NBA history. This time, I’m reminiscing about the weird stints of well-known players, and the games we saw them in. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Wayback Wednesday: Fox Sports NBA Basketball 2000

Wayback Wednesday: Fox Sports NBA Basketball 2000

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, it’s a retrospective of Fox Sports NBA Basketball 2000, specifically the PC version.

As I’ve mentioned before, Wayback Wednesday features are a lot of fun for me as I’ve not only been able to revisit old favourites, but expand my collection and play some games I never got around to playing when they were new. It’s always interesting how they all hold up. Some are just as I remembered them, for better or worse. Others are better than I recalled, while more than a couple have aged badly. When it comes to the old games I’m playing for the first time, I’ll appraise them on the same scale. There are ones I wish I’d played more of, while others were definitely worth skipping.

And then, there’s Fox Sports NBA Basketball 2000. It’s one of the bad ones, and not just because it’s aged like milk. Even when compared to its contemporaries, such as the fantastic PC version of NBA Live 2000 – and yes, even the disappointing NBA Inside Drive 2000 – it’s noticeably inferior. Here’s the thing, though. Usually, bad basketball games are frustrating or off-putting to play. Fox Sports NBA Basketball 2000 is bad in ways that are hilarious, to the point where the humour of the situation makes it unintentionally entertaining. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Wayback Wednesday: Marking NBA Milestones in Video Games

Wayback Wednesday: Marking NBA Milestones in Video Games

This is Wayback Wednesday, your midweek blast from the past! In this feature, we dig into the archives, look back at the history of basketball gaming, and indulge in some nostalgia. Check in every Wednesday for retrospectives and other features on older versions of NBA Live, NBA 2K, and old school basketball video games in general. You’ll also find old NLSC editorials re-published with added commentary, and other flashback content. This week, I’m reflecting on how video games mark different NBA milestones, and how it dates them.

On several occasions, I’ve mentioned that video games serve as wonderful time capsules for the NBA. They’re a snapshot of the league at the time they’re released, preserving the rosters, team branding, and the rules and formats of the era. When you revisit an old NBA video game, you’re often reminded of players’ brief and forgotten tenures with certain teams, “What If” scenarios and lineups that never lived up to the hype, and the jerseys and logos that you both loved and hated. In a way, old games can act as interactive almanacs, and are a fun way to revisit NBA history.

With that in mind, basketball video games preserve different eras and milestones in the real NBA as much as they’re a timeline of gaming and technology. In many of my Wayback Wednesday features, as well as my 25th Anniversary of NBA Live articles, I’ve reflected on how various titles have represented an evolution in the genre, and the improvements that are noticeable from year to year. On this occasion, I’m looking at how they represent NBA milestones and significant changes in the league, as well as the way those events make them dated. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Wayback Wednesday: Adam Morrison NBA Live 07 Commercials

Wayback Wednesday: Adam Morrison NBA Live 07 Commercials

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 commercials for NBA Live 07 featuring Adam Morrison.

Taken third overall in the 2006 Draft, Adam Morrison’s career was short, individually unspectacular, but yielded two championship rings as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers in 2009 and 2010. The 2006 NCAA scoring leader, WCC Player of the Year, and NABC Co-Player of the Year didn’t quite live up to the hype in the NBA, but he did become a fan favourite and an inspiration for several memes. In that regard, he ranks up there with the likes of Brian Scalabrine and Joel Anthony. Of course, when you think about it, that’s actually a rather disrespectful practice on our part.

After all, they were players who were good enough to play professionally, and make it to the NBA. To reduce their careers to a punchline is to sell short their hard work, not to mention the fact that they’re still better at basketball than 99% of the population. A knee injury derailed Morrison’s career in just his second season, an often-overlooked factor when people label him a bust. As I said, he entered the NBA with a lot of hype, and it’s why EA Sports tapped him to appear in commercials for NBA Live 07. Those happen to be some of my favourite trailers, so let’s take a look back…way back…

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Wayback Wednesday: 25 Years Since Michael Jordan Said “I’m Back”

Wayback Wednesday: 25 Years Since Michael Jordan Said "I'm Back"

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 marking the 25th Anniversary of the day Michael Jordan said “I’m Back”, and returned to the Chicago Bulls.

It’s funny how you don’t always feel the passage of time until you think about how long ago a certain event was. I felt it in 2008, when it had been ten years since the Chicago Bulls’ last championship. I felt it in 2011, when the Bulls celebrated the 20th Anniversary of their first title. It recently occurred to me that I’m now the same age that Michael Jordan was when he won that sixth ring in 1998. And yes, it strikes me that a whole decade has passed and hundreds of players have come and gone, as I continue to work on a current roster for NBA 2K11.

Today marks another milestone. It’s been twenty five years – or a quarter of a century, if you want to make it sound even more impressive – since Michael Jordan ended his first retirement from the NBA. MJ famously announced his return in two words: “I’m Back”. His return would ultimately expand his resume and bolster his claim to being the Greatest of All-Time, producing many more memorable moments along the way. It also had a noteworthy impact on the virtual hardwood. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Wayback Wednesday: NBA 2K10 Draft Combine

Wayback Wednesday: NBA 2K10 Draft Combine

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 NBA 2K10 Draft Combine.

Our journey to the league in NBA 2K’s career modes has taken many forms. We’ve played in Rookie Showcase games, guided Freq from high school through to the pros, experienced a college career with Pres, and took a long road through China and the G League as AI. We’ve even made it to the NBA after leaving basketball behind to be a DJ, and then drawing attention in a streetball tournament. The Draft Combine has been featured in a couple of stories (including NBA 2K20’s tale), serving as another way to prove ourselves on the virtual hardwood and raise our Draft stock.

In the very first iteration of career mode – then called My Player – the combine was the starting point for the whole experience, tipping things off before the full game was even released. The NBA 2K10 Draft Combine offered gamers a sneak peek at the mode as well as an opportunity to get a head start, though only on console. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Wayback Wednesday: Players I Remember Because of Video Games (Part 3)

This is Wayback Wednesday, your midweek blast from the past! In this feature, we dig into the archives, look back at the history of basketball gaming, and indulge in some nostalgia. Check in every Wednesday for retrospectives and other features on older versions of NBA Live, NBA 2K, and old school basketball video games in general. You’ll also find old NLSC editorials re-published with added commentary, and other flashback content. This week, I’m taking a look back at another selection of players that I remember primarily because of video games.

In a couple of previous Wayback Wednesday features, I recalled some of the players that stick in my mind in large part thanks to basketball gaming. Making roster updates for NBA Live is unquestionably a factor here, as I ended up spending a lot of time looking at names, researching players to create them and edit their ratings, or simply moving them around from team to team. After I stopped making rosters, I found that I was far less familiar with players at the end of the bench, and even some of the lesser-known rotation players on basement teams.

That’s led to me being able to remember benchwarmers and other somewhat obscure players from the 90s and 2000s much easier than I can name certain current players. I expect that will change somewhat now that my current roster update for NBA 2K11 is taking shape, but growing up with basketball games has embedded a number of role players from yesteryear in my memory. I figured this would become an ongoing series when I posted the first article last year, and indeed, I have another list to share with you all today. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Wayback Wednesday: Unlockable Jerseys in Basketball Games

Wayback Wednesday: Unlockable Jerseys in Basketball 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 practice of including unlockable jerseys in basketball video games.

I’ve previously covered throwback jerseys in basketball games, noting that their inclusion also marked the arrival of uniform selection options. Before the addition of jersey selection screens, teams with secondary road uniforms would wear them at random in exhibition play, or on Sundays in Season or Franchise modes. In the PC versions of NBA Live, we were also able to manipulate the files to switch them in and out, but it was far less cumbersome once we could easily choose which uniform we wanted a team to wear via an in-game option.

The ability to switch between a selection of alternate and retro jerseys for every team was (and is) a great feature. After NBA Live 2003 introduced the functionality, we were keen to see more content in NBA Live 2004 and beyond. New retro uniforms would indeed be added in future games, but the expanded selection also saw the introduction of unlockable jerseys. The concept has since fallen out of vogue, but for a while there, it was a standard feature in both NBA Live and NBA 2K. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Wayback Wednesday: NBA Live 2004’s Unusual Ratings

Wayback Wednesday: Unusual Ratings in NBA Live 2004

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 unusual ratings in NBA Live 2004.

As I noted in my in-depth retrospective of NBA Live 2004 for our 25th Anniversary of NBA Live celebrations, the game was a strong return to form after NBA Live 2003 was skewed in more of an arcade direction. It revamped the franchise experience into Dynasty mode, saw the addition of gameplay sliders, and introduced new player animations and physics with 10-Man Freestyle. It’s a fantastic game for its era, and tipped off a strong three year run for the series. I’d still rate it as one of my favourite games, and rank it among the best all-around NBA Live titles.

Of course, it does have a handful of issues. I’ve talked about some of the problems that occurred in the offseason of the new Dynasty mode, and mentioned a couple of other quirks in my retrospective. Something that a lot of gamers who played NBA Live 2004 will no doubt remember is the unusual ratings – specifically the Overall Ratings – for many of the players, past and present. As usual, there’s a story behind the oddity, so let’s take a look back…way back…

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