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The Friday Five: 5 Basketball Gaming Theories

The Friday Five

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Friday Five! The Friday Five is a feature that I post every Friday in which I give my thoughts on a topic that’s related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games, as well as the real NBA, and other areas of interest to our community. The feature is presented as either a list of five items, or in the form of a Top 5 countdown. This week’s Five suggests five basketball gaming theories that are as yet unproven, but I believe are certainly plausible.

Video games are full of mysteries, usually thanks to cut or unfinished content, or some other aspect that is left unexplained. Sports games generally don’t hold quite as many of these secrets or causes for speculation compared to other genres, but they do still have their points of interest. Over the years, basketball games have contained traces of planned features, or other signs of interesting development back stories that have been left untold. It’s led to a lot of speculation and guessing in our community, but hey, they’re just theories; basketball gaming theories!

Ham-fisted references to a popular YouTube channel aside, I’ve been thinking about a few unusual occurrences and unexplained content in a handful of basketball games. I wanted to offer up some explanations, and since I can’t definitively prove them, I was originally going to title this article “5 Wild Basketball Gaming Theories”. However, I decided to drop the “wild”; not only because it was a bit clickbait-y, but also because I believe at least a couple of these theories are quite plausible. It would be nice to get definitive answers about these matters one day, but for now, here are five basketball gaming theories for your consideration.

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Wayback Wednesday: MJ on the Japanese NBA Live 2002 Cover

Japanese NBA Live 2002 Cover

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 Japanese version of NBA Live 2002, which featured Michael Jordan in a Wizards jersey on the cover.

I like to think I’m fairly knowledgeable when it comes to the history of basketball video games, but from time to time, I learn something new about one of my favourite hobbies. Back in the 90s, I had no idea that one of my favourite hoops games on the Super Nintendo, World League Basketball, was released as an NCAA game in North America. I knew about NBA Action ’98, the precursor to the NBA 2K series, but I didn’t know that the PlayStation version was titled NBA Fastbreak ’98. And I certainly didn’t know that Michael Jordan was on the Japanese cover of NBA Live 2002!

Based on the responses to a Tweet I made, it seems I’m not alone on that last point. It wasn’t until I happened across Japanese copies of NBA Live 2002 on eBay several years later that I became aware of it, as it was never referenced in any other region. It’s an interesting collectable for many reasons, from the rarity of seeing His Airness in early video games or on video game covers, to him being featured in a Wizards jersey. I was delighted to add it to my collection, knowing that it would also make for a fun Wayback Wednesday topic. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Wayback Wednesday: Reimagining The Jordan Challenge

Reimagining The Jordan Challenge in NBA 2K11

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 reimagining The Jordan Challenge in NBA 2K11.

The Jordan Challenge was a significant milestone in basketball gaming. In celebrating the career of Michael Jordan, it achieved what once seemed impossible: adding actual retro teams, rather than just a collection of Legends on Decade All-Star squads. Retro teams would be established as the norm, and the mode also paved the way for NBA’s Greatest the following year in NBA 2K12. The Jordan Challenge is a mode that I’ve profiled in a Wayback Wednesday feature, as well as gone back and finished. It’s a lot of fun, and a great achievement in one of the best NBA 2K titles.

With that being said, The Jordan Challenge isn’t perfect. As I’ve previously noted, the ten challenges do lack variety. Three of them are set in the 1990 season, recycling the 1990 Chicago Bulls and taking up spots that could’ve gone to other memorable games from MJ’s career. It doesn’t ruin the mode, but looking back, the inability to license certain players did limit it somewhat. With that in mind, I’m doing something a little different for this week’s Wayback Wednesday, and reimagining The Jordan Challenge with some additional and alternative games. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Wayback Wednesday: The Jordan Challenge in NBA 2K11

Michael Jordan dunks on the Trail Blazers in the Jordan Challenge (NBA 2K11)

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 one of the best modes in NBA 2K11 (and indeed basketball games in general), the Jordan Challenge.

It recently occurred to me that while I’ve discussed Michael Jordan’s presence in NBA 2K11 and ran a series of articles in which I went back and finished all the games in the Jordan Challenge, I’ve yet to post a retrospective dedicated solely to the mode. I’ve obviously discussed it in those previous features, but given how special the Jordan Challenge was, it’s about time I rectify that. Besides, if responses to recent posts on our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are any indication, a lot of people are still quite interested in talking about NBA 2K11!

They have a good reason to. NBA 2K11 was a milestone release, and while the failure of NBA Elite 11 was a factor, the quality of 2K’s game combined with the addition of MJ and the Jordan Challenge led to it not only being very warmly received, but also becoming the first game in the series to top five million units sold. As much as any other mode or feature, the Jordan Challenge represents the way 2K has focused on the finer details, and been willing to innovate over the years. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Wayback Wednesday: The Weirdest NBA Tall Tale I Ever Heard

An NBA Tall Tale: Michael Jordan on the Hornets (NBA 2K19)

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 reminiscing about the weirdest NBA tall tale that I ever heard as a kid back in the 90s.

Although the Internet is a place of much subjective debate when it comes to the NBA, it offers plenty of resources for looking up objective statistics, records, and other such information. That makes it more difficult to concoct rumours, and try to trick your fellow fans with tall tales. I recently remembered the weirdest tall tale that someone told me back in the 90s: that Michael Jordan was originally drafted by the Charlotte Hornets! It got me thinking about how this bizarre tall tale originated, so I’ve decided to re-tell the story using clips from NBA 2K19. Let’s take a look back…way back…

Check it out here if you can’t see the embedded video. I’m working on some more video ideas for Wayback Wednesday and other features, including a comparison of NBA Live 95 and NBA Showdown, so be sure to subscribe to the NLSC’s YouTube channel! I hope that you enjoyed this look back at a weird NBA tall tale from the 90s, as told by NBA 2K19. Has anyone ever tried to fool you with an unusual and unlikely myth about the NBA? If so, share it in the comments section below! Additionally, if there’s a game you’re particularly nostalgic for, let me know what it is, and I might profile it (or an interesting aspect of it) in a future Wayback Wednesday feature.

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The Friday Five: Top 5 Legends I’d Like to See in NBA Live

The Friday Five

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Friday Five! The Friday Five is a feature that I post every Friday in which I give my thoughts on a topic that’s related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games, as well as the real NBA, and other areas of interest to our community. The feature is presented as either a list of five items, or in the form of a Top 5 countdown. This week’s Five is a countdown of the Top 5 NBA Legends that I’d like to see featured in NBA Live.

As NBA Live continues to evolve into a viable alternative to NBA 2K for basketball gamers seeking a sim experience, it’s important that it becomes a well-rounded title. This means that on top of quality gameplay that realistically depicts the NBA, modes must also be deep and engaging. It’s also important to include some additional content beyond the current NBA teams. NBA Live has obviously found a great hook in the global courts found in The Streets, as well as WNBA players, but one area where it could stand to improve is in its usage of historical content, specifically NBA Legends.

It’s tough to match what NBA 2K has done in terms of utilising Legends, not only with its historical squads but also the All-Time Teams. However, NBA Live could do a little more with the Legends that EA Sports has licensed, beyond simply featuring them in Ultimate Team. From Decade All-Stars to the ability to assign Legends to the current teams, there are ways that they could (and should) have a bigger presence in NBA Live. There are some prominent names missing however, Legends that I’d love to see in EA’s game once more. Licensing some of them is easier said than done, but should it ever be feasible, these are the Top 5 Legends I’d like to see in NBA Live.

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Monday Tip-Off: Should 99 Overall Ratings Be Possible To Attain?

Road to 99 Loading Screen in NBA 2K18

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 discussion of whether 99 Overall ratings should be possible to attain in NBA Live and NBA 2K.

Few aspects of the core gameplay experience in basketball video games cause quite as much controversy as overall ratings. They cause heated debates and much frustration when a player’s overall appears to be too high or too low, or otherwise incorrect when compared to other players. It’s all too easy to place too much emphasis on them, even though the individual ratings are more important, and the formula for calculating the overalls often makes it difficult to get every player’s rating to be “perfect”. However, although they can be problematic and even unclear, they are an important mechanic.

A debate that I’ve seen come up more than a few times over the years is whether or not any player deserves the maximum rating of 99 Overall. Not counting some of the boosted cards in Ultimate Team and MyTEAM, only a few players have reached that level in NBA Live and NBA 2K over the years, including Michael Jordan, LeBron James, and Magic Johnson. It’s also become a prominent goal to reach in NBA 2K’s MyCAREER, emphasised by NBA 2K18’s Road to 99. Few things make a player stand out in a video game quite like boasting a maxed out overall rating, but the question remains: should 99 Overall be possible in the first place?

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Wayback Wednesday: NBA 2K12’s Introduction Video

NBA 2K12 Introduction Video

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 introduction video for NBA 2K12.

Although NBA 2K11 was a tough act to follow, I would suggest that NBA 2K12 was up to the challenge. Continuing to improve upon the gameplay of its predecessor, it also successfully expanded the historical content we’ve come to associate with the NBA 2K series. The Jordan Challenge gave way to NBA’s Greatest, a mode featuring fantastic production values and several of the best teams in the NBA history on top of MJ’s Bulls. The game was hampered by the absence of the Class of 2011 rookies at launch owing to the lockout, but official roster updates would later resolve that issue.

Firing up NBA 2K12 for the first time immediately got you in the mood to play with the new historical teams, with an introduction video that I once ranked as the best among basketball games. Although we’ve seen some slick intros in the years since, there’s still a strong case for NBA 2K12’s boot-up remaining in the top spot. As such, I thought I’d look back at it this week, and the real highlights that inspired several moments in the intro. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Wayback Wednesday: Michael Jordan in 1-on-1

Michael Jordan in 1-on-1 (NBA Live 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, I’m taking a look back at NBA Live 2000’s Michael Jordan in 1-on-1 mode.

Today is Tim Duncan’s 42nd birthday. Not only is the future Hall of Famer one of the greatest players in NBA history, he also graced the cover of one of the best games in the NBA Live series: NBA Live 2000. Of course, he shared the cover with an insert of Michael Jordan, who made his first official appearance in the series as a member of the newly added roster of Legends. April 25th also marked a milestone in Michael Jordan’s career, as on this date twenty-five years ago he captured his seventh straight scoring title, tying a record set by Wilt Chamberlain.

With those themes in mind, it seems logical to take another look back at NBA Live 2000. I’ve already posted an in-depth retrospective of the game, but I thought that I’d take a closer look at one of its featured attractions: Michael Jordan in 1-on-1. Making its debut in NBA Live 2000, it made sense to brand the mode with Michael Jordan’s name in order to help it stand out to gamers. It certainly did just that, so let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: Modding Projects I’m Working On

Ultimate Jordan Roster for NBA Live 08: Michael Jordan vs. Jazz

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 few previews of modding projects that I’m working on, as well as a few ideas I’m toying with.

I’m a bit under the weather today, and seeing as how I wasn’t able to prepare anything for this week’s Monday Tip-Off ahead of time, I don’t have a full column or a video feature for you. However, I thought that I’d follow up on something that I mentioned in Episode #238 of the NLSC Podcast, regarding next month and modding. I don’t want to reveal everything just yet as I’m still getting everything sorted, but I’d like to make March a celebration of modding in our community. I’m hoping to release some new work of my own, and get all of our active modders in on the act.

With any luck, that will all be tipping off in just a few days when March is upon us, but in the meantime, I wanted to share some previews of what I’ve been working on here and there, as well as a few ideas that I’d love to see come to fruition, if and when I can make time to work on them. With that in mind, I am a little hesitant to share some of these images as I’d rather not announce anything that I’m not going to be able to get finished, so please keep in mind that those ideas aren’t set in stone. I do have a couple of projects that are progressing quite nicely though, so without any further ado, here are a few things that I’m working on right now.

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Wayback Wednesday: Michael Jordan: Chaos in the Windy City

Michael Jordan: Chaos in the Windy City Title Scr

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 Michael Jordan: Chaos in the Windy City, a 1994 game for the Super Nintendo.

A few days ago, Michael Jordan celebrated his 55th birthday. As such, it seems only appropriate that this week’s Wayback Wednesday takes a look back at a game starring His Airness. Given that he is my favourite player, and obviously a very prominent name in basketball, I’ve focused on Michael Jordan in more than a couple of previous Wayback Wednesday features, covering a variety of MJ-related gaming topics from his PC exclusive three-on-three game, to his inclusion in NBA 2K11 along with the Jordan Challenge. This time, I’m changing things up with a retrospective of a licensed platform game, namely Michael Jordan: Chaos in the Windy City.

Developed by Electronic Arts back when the company still had an agreement to use MJ’s likeness, it’s a quirky and interesting relic of its era. Chances are if you grew up playing video games in the 90s, you’ve heard of, played, rented, or owned this game at some point. We don’t usually cover platformers here at the NLSC, but as it stars one of the most recognisable names in the history of basketball, it’s worth talking about. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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The Friday Five: 5 Thoughts As Space Jam Turns 21

The Friday Five

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Friday Five! The Friday Five is a feature that I post every Friday in which I give my thoughts on a topic that’s related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games, as well as the real NBA, and other areas of interest to our community. The feature is presented as either a list of five items, or in the form of a Top 5 countdown. This week’s Five is a reflection on the movie Space Jam, twenty-one years after its release.

Hey, everyone who grew up in the 90s! Want to feel old? A couple of days ago, it was twenty-one years since Space Jam was released in theatres. Yes, really! Time does indeed keep on slipping into the future. In retrospect, I should’ve covered Space Jam for this week’s Wayback Wednesday, as it fell on the actual anniversary of the film’s release, November 15th. However, I completely spaced on that (no pun intended), and I’ve also wanted to revisit NBA Jam Tournament Edition for a while, so I did end up overlooking an obvious opportunity. As such, I’m making up for that with a bit of additional retro content for this week’s Friday Five.

Even if you weren’t around in 1996, chances are that you’ve seen, or at least heard of, Space Jam. The plot basically has some fun with Michael Jordan’s stint playing baseball, suggesting that he was inspired to return to the hardwood after helping Bugs Bunny and the rest of the Looney Tunes defeat a group of aliens who had stolen the talent of five NBA players: Charles Barkley, Muggsy Bogues, Larry Johnson, Patrick Ewing, and Shawn Bradley. It’s popular and silly, often criticised, and also the highest grossing basketball movie of all-time. It even spawned a video game, which is also worth talking about. So, let’s take a look back…way back…in five points.

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Wayback Wednesday: Reconstructing Jordan’s Bulls in NBA Live 2002

Michael Jordan on the Bulls in NBA Live 2002

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 dusting off NBA Live 2002 to see if I can reconstruct Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls in Franchise Mode.

Even though it’s definitely not the pinnacle of the series, NBA Live 2002 is a game that I find myself thinking about and returning to every now and again. As I’ve mentioned before, it’s a game that I’m oddly nostalgic for, in large part because of a memorable Sacramento Kings Franchise that I finally gained closure on years later. Of course, I also had a less successful Franchise experience with the Utah Jazz, in which things got a little too wacky. As I previously remarked, if I wanted to shake things up and do something a little unusual, it might’ve been more fun to try to reconstruct Michael Jordan’s championship-winning Chicago Bulls.

It’s not too late to explore that idea, though. Just as I recreated my Kings Franchise to finish it off all these years later, I thought that it’d be fun to attempt to reconstruct the core of the Jordan-led Bulls teams. Not all of the key players from those squads are still active in NBA Live 2002, but more than a couple are available to acquire. Can it be done? Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: Late 90s Basketball in NBA 2K18

NBA 2K18: Michael Jordan Dunk

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 handful of screenshots from a game between the ’98 Chicago Bulls and ’97 Miami Heat in NBA 2K18.

Today, I turned 33. It’s funny to think that I’ve now been running the NLSC for around half my life! As I’ve said in previous articles, it’s hard to say just how long I’ll keep doing this, but I’m not intending on giving it up anytime soon. I still have a great deal of passion for basketball video games, as well as creating content based on them. After all, I’ve been playing basketball games and watching the NBA for a long time now. It’s a little overwhelming to think that it’s been twenty years since I was getting ready to watch the 1998 season, the last year that the Chicago Bulls were champions. Unfortunately, I don’t think that they’ll be anywhere close to that this season!

It’s important that we keep moving forward, and as I said in Episode #226 of the NLSC Podcast, it’s my intention to try to enjoy this season a little more than I have in recent years. There’s nothing wrong with reminiscing from time to time however, and thanks to the historical content in NBA 2K18, I can indulge in that nostalgia on the virtual hardwood. For this week’s Tip-Off, I’d like to share some screenshots that I took during a game of NBA 2K18 PC, using the 1998 Chicago Bulls against the 1997 Miami Heat. It was a fun game to play, and I’m looking forward to using the historical squads a little more often this year. Without further ado, here are the screenshots!

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Wayback Wednesday: Creating a Legend in NBA 2K11

MJ: Creating a Legend in NBA 2K11

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 MJ: Creating a Legend in NBA 2K11.

NBA 2K11 remains a very highly regarded basketball video game, and for good reason. It was a milestone release in terms of its historical content, and for many gamers, its gameplay still holds up. I’ve talked about it a couple of times in previous Wayback Wednesday features, specifically discussing the inclusion of Michael Jordan, and my efforts to finally complete the Jordan Challenge. In passing, I’ve also mentioned the mode that could be unlocked either by completing the Jordan Challenge, or by punching in the code icanbe23; namely, MJ: Creating a Legend.

Notably different from the incarnations of Creating a Legend that appeared in subsequent NBA 2K games, it’s a mode that a lot of gamers probably didn’t spend too much time with. Indeed, some have probably forgotten about it, if they even realised it was in NBA 2K11 in the first place. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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