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Monday Tip-Off: 18 Years Running the NLSC

NLSC Court in NBA 2K17

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 reflections as I celebrate 18 years of running the NLSC.

Today, I’m not just tipping off a new week here at the NLSC, but the start of another year of my tenure as the site’s webmaster, administrator, and primary content creator. It doesn’t seem that long ago that I was an excited young basketball gamer of almost 17, accepting the offer to take over the biggest and best NBA Live fansite. That was August 26th 2001 however, which means it was quite some time ago: 18 years, to be precise. To say that basketball video games have come a long way, and that the NBA itself has changed a lot during that time, would be an understatement.

I always get reflective around the time of my NLSC anniversary. Maybe that’s part of being a so-called old head, or maybe I’m just the sentimental type. This year feels like a particularly big milestone as at this point, I’ve been running the NLSC longer than I haven’t; literally more than half my life! I’ve mentioned it in previous reflections, but I do sometimes wonder how long I’ll end up running the site for. Presumably until it’s no longer an enjoyable creative outlet for me, and honestly, that time hasn’t come yet. I still plan on being around and keeping the NLSC going for a while yet, especially when some of its most rewarding experiences have come this past decade.

In some respects, this past decade has been my favourite running the NLSC. On one hand, that’s a strange thing to say when you consider that we were originally founded as a fansite for NBA Live, and the past decade hasn’t been a golden era for the series. Obviously, officially expanding to cover the NBA 2K series and basketball gaming in general has allowed us to broaden our content and survive NBA Live’s struggles. I’ll admit to being hesitant to do that originally. It took me a while to warm up to NBA 2K, and I was concerned about alienating EA Sports, with whom we had built a solid rapport. We took a chance on it though, and clearly it was the right move for the site.

Andrew's 1997/1998 Roster Mod for NBA Live 96

Although the early years of my tenure running the NLSC were a much better time for NBA Live, my experiences in the position weren’t always so positive. Not everyone was happy with the job I was doing, and unfortunately due to some disagreements and unkind words, I had developed friction with a few prominent community members. I was much younger and didn’t yet have the maturity to deal with the fallout as well as I’d have liked, and on top of some issues in my personal life, it did take a toll on my mental health. I’ve mentioned it before, but I came very close to quitting around 2004 following a particularly nasty incident. I stuck it out though, and I’m very glad I did.

It wasn’t always easy. There have been some people who went out of their way to make things difficult for me. I dreaded seeing their username pop up in the Forum, as I knew I’d be putting out fires and enduring nastiness. Their popularity made it harder to deal with them without looking like the bad guy, though in time others also grew weary of them. In some cases I was able to smooth over the rift and put the past in the past, but there are a few people who well and truly burned their bridges. Let me put it this way: if it gets to the point where I’m enduring harassment outside of the NLSC, you’re not getting back into the party as long as I’m the one hosting it.

There are few things more toxic to a long-running community than a jaded veteran. Newbies get a bad rap for not knowing all the in-jokes or some of the community-specific social etiquette, but they’re usually enthusiastic and eager to participate. In contrast, the jaded veteran has tired of the scene, but sticks around anyway to chase new members away (and then complain about the lack of activity and overall vibe that they’re in no small part responsible for). I’m always grateful for the veterans who help make the community a better place for new and old members alike, but I have little time and patience for the jaded folks who just want to cause trouble and headaches.

NBA Legends: Kobe Bryant in NBA Live 16

Thankfully, things have been much more peaceful this decade, and over the past 18 years, I’d like to think that I’ve earned a more positive reputation in my role as the guy running the NLSC. On top of that, I’ve been able to create a lot of content that I’ve always wanted to, particularly over the past few years. When I took over the NLSC, Tim encouraged me to breathe new life into the site, to keep expanding it. I always felt that we could be more than just a modding community that would also compile Wishlists and get the occasional interview as we covered the preview season. It’s something I’d tried with the NBA Live Domain, and wanted to try on a larger scale.

After a few once-off and irregular features, I established weekly content in the form of The Friday Five. Honestly, the idea came about because list articles were getting big, I was a fan of Cracked, and some of my own article ideas felt like they’d lend themselves to a list and countdown format. I’ve since added Wayback Wednesday and Monday Tip-Off, and I take pride in being able to bring you all those features every week. I like sharing my opinions about basketball games and covering them in what I hope are fun and interesting ways. I enjoy nostalgia, so it’s fun to look back at older games on a weekly basis. Producing the Five is always an interesting challenge.

Having established those features over the past five or six years, I’ve been trying to push myself to make them better and better over time. Although I enjoy doing the retrospectives on old games, it’s been a lot of fun to do different things for Wayback Wednesday: looking at specific game features, uncovering mysteries and oddities, simming through to today in franchise modes, and so on. Likewise, I’ve tried to touch on some pertinent topics in Monday Tip-Off, and share some strong opinions that I believe are important to voice. It’s been my goal to come up with more and more creative topics for The Friday Five, from interesting facts to commentary on games.

At EA Tiburon for the NBA Live 16 Community Event

Without wanting to sound egotistical, I do believe that I’ve done some of my best work in the past couple of years. I’ve felt a lot of creative satisfaction with many of the features, and it’s been great to dabble with some video content as well. I’m also glad that we were able to revamp the NLSC Podcast earlier this year into a format that I hope is more enjoyable to listen to, as it’s certainly more fun to record. One of the biggest things I’ve been able to do in that regard was to get an interview with the voice of NBA Jam, Tim Kitzrow. It’s something I’d thought about doing since I saw he was on Twitter, and decided that there couldn’t be any harm in reaching out.

Honestly, conducting the interview with Tim – the voice of an iconic game that I and many other basketball gamers grew up with – is one of my all-time highlights in 18 years of running the NLSC. Getting flown over to community events in the United States and Canada are right up there too, as is getting interviews with developers at both EA Sports and Visual Concepts. Those are priceless memories that were big for the NLSC in their own right, but it was such a thrill to chat with Tim. He couldn’t have been friendlier and more generous with his time. I’m very proud of that show, and do consider it one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had doing this gig.

I’m hoping that down the road, we can do more developer interviews and the like. It’s been hard to keep up with the times and stay relevant in some ways, because both of those companies are favouring YouTubers and streamers now. I understand it to some extent because that’s what’s popular these days, but in my humble opinion, they’re not the only ones with good ideas about the games (and in some cases, I disagree with their vision for both titles). It’s something that I’ll continue to work on, because I do believe that we are as relevant as ever, and have a lot to offer both the developers and the basketball gaming community at large. My aim is to do just that.

NBA 2K11 2018 Roster Teaser (Giannis Antetokounmpo)

To that end, I hope you’ll stay tuned for what we’ve got coming up. This week, I’ll be tipping off our 25th Anniversary of NBA Live content. A few years back I posted some content for the series’ 20th Anniversary, and while I did enjoy doing that, I’ll admit to being disappointed by my efforts. I had so much more planned and didn’t end up getting it done in time. The retrospectives extended out into the following years, and some of the best ideas didn’t happen. From this week until the end of the year, it’s going to be a different story. I will be rerunning some 20th Anniversary content, albeit with a few updates, but there’ll be plenty of new stuff as well.

Of course, I’ll continue to produce my usual weekly features, and the NLSC Podcast. I’d also like to get back into some modding. Unfortunately obstacles have kept getting in the way of the NBA 2K11 roster update I’ve been working on, but I haven’t given up on it yet. Indeed, I’m thinking of producing some sort of “Making Of” series that will also serve as a progress report, so keep an eye out for that. Although I have come to produce different kinds of content over the past decade, my roots are in the creation of roster updates. Despite the fact they can be a chore, it’s often difficult to resist the lure. It’s very satisfying when a modding project comes together.

Since I do plan on keeping the NLSC around for some time yet, I’m hoping that we can once again become a bustling hub for all things basketball gaming. I’d like to see us get back to in-depth discussions about the games, and what we’re doing with them. I want to see modders making use of our upload facilities, as that’s why we made sure we got a dedicated server when we moved hosts a few years back. I’d like to see much less reliance on ad links, because they’re becoming quite problematic. It’s getting to the point where I’m going to have to remove a lot of dead links from our Downloads section, and the whole reason we offer hosting is so that we can avoid that.

Kawhi Leonard dunks in NBA 2K19

Because we are non-profit, our hosting is funded by advertising, as well as support from the community. I’d rather not bug people about it- especially more than once a year if I can avoid it – but if you do feel like supporting us, I’ll share the links for our Patreon, GoFundMe, and PayPal. As Arcane and I mentioned on the Podcast recently, we are working on some backer rewards for Patreon, so stay tuned for more details. In the meantime, simply visiting the NLSC on the regular, making use of the Forum, and enjoying our content, helps us out immensely. I know I’ve said it before, but I really do appreciate the support we’ve received throughout my 18 years running the NLSC.

The creative satisfaction and fun I’ve had running the NLSC for these past 18 years, especially with some of the things I’ve been able to do this decade, definitely has me ready and willing to keep doing what I’m doing for the foreseeable future. You never know what’s around the corner, but I strongly believe that we still have a great thing going, and I’m proud to be a part of it. I recently spent some time developing new ideas for upcoming content, so I hope to bring you great basketball coverage for a long while yet. It certainly helps that some of the more difficult individuals that made running the site very stressful and unpleasant at times have since moved on.

Let’s not dwell on them, though. I’m looking forward to the 25th Anniversary of NBA Live content, and making it bigger and better than the previous celebration. As I said, I’ve got some ideas for my weekly features that I’m looking forward to producing. I’ll be trying my hand at some more modding. And of course, NBA 2K20 is coming out in just a couple of weeks. From celebrations to critique, from mods to discussion, and everything in between, we want to be your source for basketball video games. My time running the NLSC has been so rewarding, and if I can make you feel the same kind of excitement I felt when I first discovered the site in 1997, I’ve done my job.

Playing 2K Pro-Am with NLSC GrindTime (NBA 2K18)

So, thank you to our founders, Tim, Lutz, and Brien, for entrusting me to run this site all those years ago. Thank you to the team members who have created content for the NLSC, and helped moderate the Forum. Thanks to the developers at EA Sports and Visual Concepts who have been open to doing interviews, and for taking the feedback in our Wishlists on board. Thank you to Tim Kitzrow for the most fun interview I’ve been able to conduct. Thanks to the modders who share their work, the gamers who make use of the Forum for discussions, and everyone who enjoys, comments on, and shares our features. Thank you all for your continued support. Cheers to 18 Years!

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beegees
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beegees

I discovered the site about 2007. I sought for patches on Live 06, 07 (PC), there were some Russian fan-portals with modes, sometimes they produced their members’ original content, like faces, sometimes they plugged yours too. 🙂 Then I decided to go over the first place to notice new patches in person.