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Monday Tip-Off: I’ve Got To Use My Imagination

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 thoughts on how we no longer have to use our imagination when it comes to career and franchise modes.

Yes, the title of this week’s column is indeed a reference to a song by Gladys Knight & the Pips. That’s about as far as the reference goes, however. Truth be told, I only know the song because Forrest Gump is one of my all-time favourite movies, and it’s on its soundtrack. In any case, imagination is a core component of gaming, no matter the genre. Whether we’re playing single player or multiplayer, we immerse ourselves in a virtual world. We share the goal of the player character, whether it’s saving the world, winning a championship, or causing mayhem as a goose.

Imagination has always been – and to some extent still is – a big part of basketball gaming. Whether we’re assuming the role of a general manager or coach, taking control of a star player, or stepping onto the hardwood or blacktop with our own avatar, there’s an element of fantasy at play. Of course, many years ago, we had to be far more imaginative as far as scenarios and stories. In franchise and career play, we filled in the gaps, created our own back stories, and would even role-play in our story section. These days, we don’t have to use our imagination so much, especially in the story-driven MyCAREER. Needless to say, there are benefits and drawbacks to this.

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Wayback Wednesday: Mentors in NBA 2K15’s MyCAREER

Channing Frye, one of the mentors in NBA 2K15's MyCAREER

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 mentors in NBA 2K15’s MyCAREER.

NBA 2K15 stands out as quite a noteworthy game in the NBA 2K series. It was the first time that the PlayStation 4/Xbox One version was ported to PC, and the first PC release to be available exclusively through Steam with no disc-based physical copies. The game also continued the story-driven MyCAREER concept, becoming the first game in which you didn’t start your rookie season on opening night. The story of how you make it to the league featured cameos from NBA players who acted as mentors, with the real players voicing their virtual counterparts in cutscenes.

On one hand, this was an improvement over similar cutscenes in NBA 2K14, in which the MyPLAYER character was voiced while the NBA players’ dialogue was just text. On the other hand, many of their performances were notoriously and hilariously bad, as discussed in an article over on Cracked a couple of years ago. Nevertheless, it was an idea that had merit, influencing presentation and features in subsequent games. At the very least, there’s some humour to be found with the mentors in NBA 2K15, so let’s take a look back…way back…

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