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Monday Tip-Off: A Week Playing in The Rec

Monday Tip-Off: A Week Playing in The Rec

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 recap of a week playing in The Rec in NBA 2K20.

Because I’ve been casually playing a bit of MyCAREER while waiting for the season to start and the rosters to be updated for a MyLEAGUE game, my player has levelled up enough to be viable to play with online. As such, I’ve gone to The Rec a couple of times to see what it’s like this year. Not much has changed in terms of the quality of play or stability of the servers, but it’s had its moments. To that end, I figured if I was able to keep my expectations low, it’d be fun to jump on every once in a while for a change of pace. It’s a way of earning extra VC for MyTEAM packs if nothing else.

That led me to wonder if there were better nights than others to jump into The Rec for a game or two. I recalled that when the NLSC squad was playing multiple sessions of 2K Pro-Am per week in NBA 2K17, some days yielded more enjoyable experiences with good competition, while other days brought frustrating times with opponents who exploited cheesy tactics. I decided that I’d play The Rec every night for a week in order to see which night – if any – was the best to jump on. I was also interested to see how quickly I’d get sick of it, and whether I’d end up too frustrated with the mode to play it any more. What follows is a recap of my week playing in The Rec!

Monday

Monday in The Rec (NBA 2K20)

The session started promisingly, as I won five hours of double MyREP on the Daily Spin. Normally I’d be disappointed in that spin, but on this occasion, it was a welcome turn of events. Higher MyREP is helpful in getting games – more so than your Overall Rating in NBA 2K20 – and as I’ve previously discussed, it unlocks some items that shouldn’t be behind an online gate to begin with. In any event, I jumped into The Rec, to see if I’d be able to get a game. I joined a locker room with three other teammates, and began waiting for a fifth player to arrive. It wasn’t too late in the evening when I jumped on, but the wait made me wonder if I’d be out of luck playing on weeknights.

It was probably between five and ten minutes before a fifth player joined us, but one did and the game soon began. Unfortunately, with another point guard in the lineup, and one with a higher MyREP and Overall Rating, I was relegated to shooting guard. That usually isn’t a good time, as I’m quite comfortable distributing and deferring, while a lot of other point guards prefer to try to do it all. The point guard on our team was a bit that way, forcing a few shots while also being the primary distributor, but in all fairness they were quite good. They were also willing to hit the open man, so they weren’t anywhere near as selfish as a lot of players in The Rec tend to be.

Chemistry wasn’t too bad, and I managed to chip in with some stats and play solid defense. There were the usual lapses of course: missing the open man on occasion, forcing up shots when smothered, and making unnecessary long passes that flew out of bounds. It jeopardised the lead we’d built, almost letting it slip, but we managed to hold on. Spacing was quite good after we figured out each other’s game on offense, and aside from some forced and sloppy moments, we worked well as a team. We won 66-58, but unfortunately for the power forward, they fouled out with 0.5 seconds left and missed out on all their VC and Badge progress after a solid performance.

Overall I enjoyed the game, and felt I’d contributed with 6 points, 4 rebounds, and 4 assists. I stuck around for a second game, playing with a couple of people from the first one, and a couple of new players who joined in. They were quite good as well, so even when they weren’t passing, they were at least making their shots. We won the second game 76-58, with the lead never really in doubt after we took control early on. After that game – in which I had 5 points, 5 assists, 4 rebounds, and 2 steals – I found myself alone in the locker room. I decided to call it a night too, but I left feeling that Mondays were a good night for teammates and competition in The Rec.

Tuesday

Tuesday in The Rec (NBA 2K20)

Although my stats in Monday’s games weren’t eye-popping, I felt satisfied with both outings. I hadn’t been frozen out, there’d been some good teamwork, and I had an opportunity to chip in with some scoring and assists, as well as help out on defense with some rebounds and steals. More importantly, we got the win in both games. I was eager to see if Tuesday’s experience would be better, worse, or about the same. Sadly, it was much, much worse. The first indication that it was going to be a bad night came when people were quitting in the locker room, delaying a game getting started. That kind of snobbery and elitism is usually a sign of toxic attitudes.

When a game did finally start, our centre quit while we were loading in, leaving us to play four on five. Once again I was playing shooting guard, with a point guard who would be much better suited to playing offline. People may sneeringly suggest “go play MyCAREER!” to anyone who wants to bring back the three user minimum in Pro-Am and The Rec, but honestly, it’s people who can’t shake the Player One mentality that should avoid online play. There was very little interest in playing team basketball, or making good plays. Some of my teammates put up numbers, but when you look at their field goal percentages and turnovers, they’re very empty stats.

One of my teammates had “turd” in their username, and it was an apt summary of both their maturity and their basketball IQ. Frozen out for most of the game, I did somehow manage to tally 5 points, 1 assist, and 4 rebounds. This one had it all: chucking shots while triple-teamed, calling timeout when someone (i.e. me) was about to score on the break, running up and jacking contested shots without even looking to make a pass, terrible spacing, and ill-advised passes when they did actually look to share the ball. They all seemed to give up when we were down six in the second quarter, using up all the timeouts and playing like garbage. We lost 80-62.

I refused to slack off, in a fruitless effort to demonstrate what team basketball looks like. Once the game was over, I left the locker room as soon as I could. After a short wait I decided that I’d play one more game, just to give Tuesday in The Rec a proper chance. At first, it seemed like it was going to be a good palate cleanser. Let me put it this way: we were actually getting Good Ball Movement teammate grades! It all fell apart in the second half, though. The teamwork just wasn’t there and we let the lead slip, losing 54-51. One of the guys jumped on the mic to cuss out the rest of us when he was just as much at fault. I’m therefore dubbing it “Toxic Tuesdays” in The Rec.

Wednesday

Levelling Up to Pro II MyREP (NBA 2K20)

Entering Wednesday’s games, I wasn’t feeling hopeful after my experiences the night before. Granted, Monday had been quite enjoyable, but compared to Tuesday – and many of The Rec games I played in NBA 2K19 – it seemed far more likely to be the anomaly. I was also concerned about possible drastic changes to the experience due to Patch 1.08, which once again lacked detailed notes. Things looked promising going into the first game; although it took a while to begin due to people leaving the locker room, I was placed at point guard this time around. I hoped that this would actually allow me to handle the ball a little more, and set up my teammates as I like to do.

That wasn’t the case. While I did end up with 4 assists to go along with 7 points and 3 rebounds, the small forward and power forward assumed playmaking duties for most of the game. They had 5 assists and 7 turnovers between them, though it was tough to drop dimes with the shot selection which once again was atrocious. The small forward was on the mic complaining, but he was at least urging everyone to move the ball and take good shots, even if he wasn’t always making the best decisions himself. I felt his frustration and he wasn’t entirely wrong, but when you’re playing with randoms in The Rec, going off on everyone tends to just alienate your teammates.

We lost the game 80-52, and not surprisingly, most of the guys left. I waited around and soon got into a second game. What followed was easily one of the most satisfying games I’ve ever had in The Rec. I had my doubts when the centre came on the mic and was doing his best Darth Vader impression, but heavy breathing and background noise aside, he wasn’t at all toxic. I actually got to play my role as a playmaking point guard who can knock down some open shots when the opportunity arises, finishing with 10 points, 12 assists, 3 rebounds, and 3 steals. The ball was constantly moving, and the shooting guard was on fire with 44 points. As a result, we won 77-52.

Deciding I’d take the risk, I played a third game; the rubber match to determine what the standard was really like for Wednesdays in The Rec. As is so often the case after a really good game, it proved to be one too many. The chemistry just wasn’t there with three new teammates, as we were really discombobulated with spacing and defensive rotations. On the bright side, there wasn’t a lot of selfishness. I finished with 8 points, 7 assists, and 2 rebounds in the 82-60 loss. Overall, I’d say Wednesday in The Rec was quite decent. It was easily better than Tuesday, and the second game was a lot of fun. It also pushed me up to Pro II and got me the Daily Bonus with a limitless three.

Thursday

Waiting in the Locker Room (NBA 2K20)

Before I entered The Rec on Thursday, I equipped one of the Tier 1 player panels that I’d unlocked by levelling up. I was interested to see if it would make a difference as far as people sticking around to team up with me, and to pass me the ball more often. With win-loss records no longer being displayed in the locker room and the Overall Ratings not quite as prominent, MyREP and customised player panels have become the standard for judging potential teammates. It still invites elitism and snobbery, but it’s arguably a step in the right direction. In any event, my new player panel may have had an impact from the first game as no one left immediately, allowing a quick start.

We had a team made up of three point guards, and glancing at the Overall Ratings of the other two I figured I’d be at shooting guard or even small forward. I ended up at the two, though the point guard quit early in the game. This gave me an opportunity to be the distributor early on, and despite some roughness, we had the lead at the half. In the second half, the point guard who had been placed at small forward decided that he wanted to be the star, and we were soon trailing thanks to a lack of court vision, an unwillingness to pass, and a questionable shot selection. It wasn’t a complete freeze-out or utterly toxic, but the hero ball failed to close the gap again and we lost 59-55.

Sticking around for a second game, I was happy to be placed back at point guard. Two of our players quit though, leaving us to play three on five. I expected it to be a tough one to get through, especially when our opponents took an early lead, but we refused to give up and mess around. Our patience and persistence paid off, and after not being able to buy a bucket in the first half, my threes started falling in the second. I also had a big driving dunk when the lane opened up, which drew a laugh from my mic’d up teammate at power forward! I had 24 points including 4 threes to go along with 3 assists, and took home Player of the Game honours as we were victorious 55-47.

The third and final game of the night was competitive for the most part, especially after the shooting guard and small forward quit. Neither was interested in playing an unselfish style of basketball, and without them we managed to keep pace with a squad that knew all the tricks. We gave it our all and entered the fourth with the lead, but we just made too many mistakes and let it slip, losing 72-61. Aside from a couple of the players, I’d have to say that Thursday wasn’t too toxic, but there did seem to be some inexperience. I’d also say that the higher MyREP and custom panel made a difference. Not a bad night to jump into The Rec, but definitely some scrappiness to the games.

Friday

Friday in The Rec (NBA 2K20)

Fridays have traditionally been the regular night for the NLSC squad these past few years. I’ve seen the best and worst of the online scene during those sessions, and with more people jumping on than during the week, the chances of encountering toxicity felt exponentially higher. I guessed that there might be a lot of younger gamers online, and if so, that’d probably affect my experience. Before you go all “OK Boomer” on me, it’s just that we do have some different preferences and expectations out of online gaming. Also, I’m 35 and therefore a Millennial. There’s already an approved list of reasons and insults for dumping on my generation, thank you so very much!

There certainly wasn’t a generation gap in the first game, though. It was right up there with the game I played on Wednesday night, with everyone on the same page, filling their roles and making passes at the right time. We all made a few mistakes – it’s tough to play a flawless game, after all – but the execution was impressive for a group of randoms playing together, if I do say so myself. My shot was falling and I finished with 18 points, 10 assists, 5 rebounds, and a steal and a block. I was disappointed when everyone left after the game as we’d worked very well together, winning 69-49.  We were really clicking in the second half too, outscoring the other squad 44-24.

Game number two on Friday night produced an 81-54 victory, but from the opening tip, I could tell I wouldn’t be playing as active a role as I had in the first contest. The shooting guard and small forward were very aggressive, and ended up playing a two man game for the most part. I’m not sure if they knew each other or just decided they wanted to be the next Orange Juice, but either way they wanted to take the most shots and dish it back and forth for their assists. They did at least let me bring the ball up, but in the second half in particular, I got the impression they’d rather be playing two on five. They were actually more willing to pass it to our AI teammates than me!

Still, it was a win, and not the worst freeze-out I’ve encountered. I took a quick break after the second game, before jumping back into The Rec for a third. I can say without any hyperbole that it was the worst game I’ve ever played in The Rec. After the small forward and shooting guard quit, the power forward and centre decided to play a two man game; playmaking and all. Simply put, they sucked at it. The centre did have 25 points and 26 rebounds, but only from following up on their horrible shots. As for the power forward, they were 9-for-25 for their 21 points. They didn’t set screens, mostly just passed to each other, and we lost 85-57. That result was no surprise whatsoever.

I’ll admit that I was sorely tempted to jump on the mic and give them a piece of my mind as the game was finishing up, but I didn’t want to add to the toxicity. Likewise, I won’t name and shame them, as that’s not cool. They were easily two of the worst teammates I’ve ever had in The Rec, though. At least other hogs have been extremely good on the sticks, and have won the game while reducing me to a passive role. These two flat out sucked. Friday ended up being a very mixed bag, with an outstanding game, a decent win that would’ve been more enjoyable if I’d been more involved, and a downright awful loss. In other words, a rather typical Friday night for The Rec!

Saturday

Forfeited Game in NBA 2K20

Since I was going out Saturday night, I headed to The Rec for a few games earlier in the day. As I’ve generally played NBA 2K online in the evenings, I wasn’t sure what to expect out of a daytime session. What I encountered was a bunch of people who didn’t want to play. Several users came and went while waiting for a game to begin in the locker room, and then five promptly quit after the first game had finally begun. Soon we were playing three on two, and racing out to a big lead. With the score at 36-13 in the third quarter, the final opponent quit. I wasn’t too sorry to see it as my two teammates were starting to hog for stats, but I did miss out on the Badge points.

It happened again in the second game, with four users on the opposing team quitting in quick succession in the first minute. Only the point guard remained, and here I have to give them a lot of credit as they stuck around and played out the entire game. It was a complete blowout as you might expect, as apart from a couple of cheap steals and scoring off of offensive rebounds, their AI teammates were rather useless. As for my teammates, they didn’t give me too many opportunities to set them up in the half court, but they were getting me the ball so I could score. I finished with 22 points and 3 assists, and also picked up the “Off to the Races” trophy in the 90-42 victory.

By the third game, I was expecting people to quit, and wasn’t at all shocked to see our centre drop out early in the game. By the end of the second quarter it was two against two, giving us all an opportunity to pad our stats, and grind for MyREP and Badge points. My lone remaining teammate, the shooting guard, was lighting it up and ended with 42 points including 9 three-pointers. This allowed me to rack up assists as I like to do, and I finished the game with 17 of them, to go along with 10 points and 3 steals in a 77-51 win that was never really in doubt. Upon completing the game I unlocked my twelfth Playmaking Badge, and shot right up to Pro III in MyREP level.

Saturday proved to be an altogether odd day in The Rec. Teamwork was decent and there wasn’t anything truly toxic like calling timeout when someone is about to score, or being abusive on the open mic, but it wasn’t a good day for competition. Maybe it’s different in the evenings – that’s something I may have to revisit when I’m at home on a Saturday night – but a lot of people seemingly weren’t interested in playing. Many of those who proceeded through to the games abruptly quit after a slow start, or because they weren’t getting to put up stats on every possession. It wasn’t a totally unenjoyable or frustrating session, but definitely not competitive or good virtual basketball, either.

Sunday

Sunday in The Rec (NBA 2K20)

Finally, my week in The Rec came to an end last night with a Sunday session. There was little fun to be had in Game 1, as I may have gotten to touch the ball a grand total of about ten times. I didn’t even get to attempt a shot until the third quarter, and when I did, I always seemed to be hit by a lag spike, which meant I shot a terrible 1-for-5. I couldn’t even help out with ballhandling and playmaking duties, as the point guard insisted on getting every assist. They also insisted on throwing alley-oops on almost every play, and so they ended up with 9 turnovers along with their 12 dimes. The only saving grace is that the other team was just as disorganised, so we won 42-37.

It was more of the same in Game 2. The point guard forced shots, made bad passes when they did decide to share the ball, and ran the team poorly. Spacing was terrible as my teammates bunched up and ran to the same spot on the floor, not paying any attention to where anyone else was. There were two consecutive defensive three second violations on the same possession due to bad positioning and needless switching. We were tied at halftime but just played terribly in the second half; the point guard in particular looked for their own stats rather than making the smart play. It was no wonder we lost 56-48. It was shaping up to be an awful night in The Rec.

At first, it looked like I’d at least be able to finish on a high note in the third game. We seemed quite sharp in the first quarter, racing out to a 20-3 lead at the break. Our opponents cut it to ten by halftime, but then the third quarter was an absolute disaster. We were outscored 34-9, losing all control of the game. A couple of runs brought us within nine at one point, but it was too little too late. Sloppy defense, ill-advised shots, careless turnovers due to ambitious passes, and attempts at stat-padding lost us a game we should’ve easily won. What should’ve been a fun game to end on became the most frustrating and disappointing contest of the night. I was very glad to be done.

I’d have to say the week ended with a disappointing thud. Between being frozen out and having teammates that made no attempt at forming any kind of chemistry, my immediate reaction was that it had been the worst night of the week. It was definitely up there (or down there) with Tuesday as far as selfishness, lack of team spirit and unity, and extremely low basketball IQ. Only a couple of users quit, there were no trolling timeouts, and no one got abusive on the open mic, but even with that low bar, Sunday in The Rec wasn’t enjoyable. It’s hard to see myself jumping on for a game or two on Sundays, unless I’ve got a couple of friends to go to The Rec with.

Summing up a week in The Rec

The Rec in The Neighborhood (NBA 2K20)

You know what? My week in The Rec went better than I expected. I had visions of every session being a nightmare, featuring the worst of the online scene in NBA 2K. Instead, there were some enjoyable sessions and games that were very satisfying. It’s never fun to lose, but a loss is easier to swallow if you were at least able to play well as a team, put up some stats, and be competitive. A hard fought-loss where you’re involved and contributing can sometimes even be more enjoyable than a win where you’re frozen out and treated like an AI player. My week in The Rec ran the gamut of satisfying wins, palatable losses, and lousy experiences on both sides of the ledger.

Looking back at the week, I’d have to say that Monday was the best all-around night, closely followed by Friday (despite the terrible third game) and Wednesday. Thursday and Saturday were fairly even; I’d probably rank Thursday ahead of Saturday because of all the quitting in the latter session. Tuesday and Sunday were easily the worst and most toxic days, with Sunday getting the nod as the least enjoyable day of the week. There were times when my upgraded player panel seemed to make a difference as far as inspiring trust and respect from my teammates, but it wasn’t a guarantee. With the larger number of players online, weekend sessions are a gamble in terms of quality.

I know I didn’t mention it too much, but lag was still an issue at times. I figured most people can take that as read, as complaints about the quality of 2K’s servers haven’t subsided this year. I don’t know what it is, but I always seem to get the worst spikes when a teammate hits me when I’m wide open on the perimeter. Fortunately, I didn’t have any disconnections during any of my sessions. I briefly lost connection in one game, but it reconnected long before the timer counted down from 15. As far as the online stability is concerned, nothing much has changed from previous years. It’s no better, but at the very least it isn’t any worse, at least on the Australasian servers.

It’s clear that some people want to play a good brand of virtual basketball, and it was nice to be teamed up with them in more than one of the games. There are a lot of people who should stick to MyCAREER though, as they can’t get over the Player One mentality. Games are lost and big leads are blown due to selfishness and a focus on one’s own stats, and there are some gamers who’d probably be more at home over in The Playground. I’ve also recognised some usernames from people I’ve faced in team Pro-Am, suggesting a lot of us are trying to make do with The Rec due to the five user requirement. It’s a real shame, considering how fun that mode used to be.

Admittedly this isn’t the biggest sample size and it only applies to the Australasian servers. The experience may be very different in North America, and I’d assume that the server performance is at least slightly better than it is here Down Under. Having said that, I can only report on my own experiences and this is an honest account of my week in The Rec. It was better than I expected at times, but I wasn’t at all surprised by the less enjoyable games and sessions. It did help grind for Badges, VC, and MyREP, if nothing else, and gave me an idea of which nights may be better than others if I want to jump in again. I’m not in any great rush to do so, but I won’t rule it out.

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Dee4Three
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Dee4Three

I have to say, I found it disheartening when you said that your week at the rec wasn’t as bad as you thought it would be, considering it seems you technically only have 2 good days out of 7.

Reading this reminds me why I stay offline. The ballhogging, quitting, childish antics, ridiculous commentary, lack of basketball IQ and teamwork would drive me up a wall. The “elitism” aspect would no doubt make me jump on the mic, and give them a piece of my mind. (Or shake my cane at them, or whatever you want to call it).

Good for you sticking with it, hopefully your experience becomes more consistently positive moving forward.