Welcome to Wayback Wednesday, your midweek blast from the past! This is a feature where we look back on yesteryear, digging into the archives to indulge in some nostalgia, and in some cases, wonder just what we were thinking. Check in every Wednesday for features and retrospectives on older versions of NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games, as well as old NLSC editorials re-published with added commentary, reflections on big announcements from years gone by, and other flashback content.
As I discussed in a previous edition of Wayback Wednesday, league expansion can lead to some unique features being added to NBA video games. Such was the case with NBA Live 96, with the league’s expansion across the border into Canada and the addition of the Vancouver Grizzlies and Toronto Raptors. When the Grizzlies and Raptors joined the league twenty years ago, an Expansion Draft was held to help them fill out their rosters, as is the norm. The twenty-seven other teams were able to protect eight players, which needless to say limited the pool of available talent outside of the deeper squads.
In most versions of NBA Live 96, the rosters were updated for the 1996 season with Class of 1995 rookies and offseason transactions. This wasn’t the case with the Super Nintendo version of NBA Live 96, which was missing the rookies (though there were codes to unlock them, along with Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, and some bonus Legends), and also did not account for major moves like the Chicago Bulls’ acquisition of Dennis Rodman, nor the results of the Expansion Draft. What the SNES version of NBA Live 96 did have was the unique feature of the Expansion Draft itself.
Let’s take a look back…way back…