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Monday Tip-Off: Annual Rituals & Goals in NBA 2K

Monday Tip-Off: Annual Rituals & Goals in NBA 2K

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 on my annual rituals and goals in NBA 2K games.

I buy NBA 2K every year. In fact, throughout this past generation, I’ve double-dipped with copies for PC (for mods) and PlayStation 4 (for online play). I suppose that makes me a part of the problem as far as supporting the game despite having gripes with it, but in my defense, I’m both a collector and a content creator. Without at least one copy of the game, it’s difficult to provide coverage post-release. I know this all too well, having covered NCAA Basketball 10 throughout its preview season, and then not at all afterwards because I couldn’t import the game (I since have for PS3).

It’s also my aim to enjoy the game every year, and with the NBA Live series being rather underwhelming or completely absent from the basketball gaming space for much of the past decade, I’ve been getting my virtual hoops fix from NBA 2K. As such, there are a few rituals I engage in, and goals that I strive for, in each new NBA 2K title. In some respects, it’s probably made it difficult to break some of the habits I’ve formed, especially in MyCAREER. On the other hand, it always provides me with some baseline goals from which I can derive a sense of accomplishment, as well as completion. If I manage to attain these goals, I feel like I’ve got my money’s worth.

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Monday Tip-Off: Virtual Hooping With Non-Fans

Monday Tip-Off: Virtual Hooping With Non-Fans

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 virtual hooping with and against people who aren’t big fans of basketball.

As our community is obviously made up of people who are big fans of both real and virtual basketball, we don’t really look at hoops gaming from the point of view of people who aren’t into the sport. After all, basketball and sports games in general are – to some extent – aimed at a very specific crowd. Sim titles in particular are intended for the avid fans that are more likely to want a realistic depiction of the sport. That’s not to say they can’t be for everyone – I’m not a fan of gatekeeping – but their focus on authenticity and minute details generally appeals to the more hardcore hoop-heads.

That means despite their success and popularity, basketball games and other sports titles are still somewhat niche. To put it another way, many of us basketball gamers will also play games like Fallout, Call of Duty, Grand Theft Auto, Mario, Zelda, Mass Effect, and so on, but a majority of the gamers who play those titles aren’t necessarily interested in virtual hooping, or fans of real basketball for that matter. If anything, they’re more likely to enjoy an arcade title like NBA Jam as it’s easier to pick up and play, and has a broader appeal. Some non-fans will dabble with the sim titles as well though, and virtual hooping with them is often an interesting experience.

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Wayback Wednesday: NBA 2K11 Retrospective

Wayback Wednesday: NBA 2K11 Retrospective

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 2K11 with a tenth anniversary retrospective.

Monday marked the tenth anniversary of NBA 2K11, so I feel a retrospective is only appropriate. Before we get to that though, the fact that ten years have passed since the release of NBA 2K11 is, for me at least, mind-blowing. It doesn’t feel like a whole decade has gone by since basketball gamers were sinking their teeth into a title that many still consider to be one of the best (if not the best) hoops games ever made. Like NBA Live 2000 before it, it’s managed to hold a special place in our hearts long past its release, because it was such a great game for its time.

Of course, being a great game for its time doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s still the benchmark, which raises a few questions: just how good is NBA 2K11, and how well does it hold up? What makes it so special that a vocal contingent of basketball gamers opine that no game since has been able to top it? They’re pertinent questions for an NBA 2K11 retrospective to explore, so let’s take a look back…way back…

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The Friday Five: 5 Things Developers Got In Trouble For

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 list of five things that the developers of basketball video games found themselves in trouble over.

Something that a lot of basketball gamers don’t seem to understand is that when it comes to licensed titles, developers are under certain restrictions that are imposed by the licenser. Most people understand that certain former players can’t be included because they haven’t granted the use of their likeness, though you’ll get the occasional person who’ll angrily claim that EA Sports or Visual Concepts have “forgotten” about those historical players. The NBA also isn’t really big on modding because of the way it skirts such licensing, which is why we don’t have any official modding tools.

There are plenty of other examples of these restrictions, such as an inability to include unsportsmanlike technical fouls, or fights beyond a bit of post-whistle shoving that’s out of our control. Bottom line, if it’s in NBA Live or NBA 2K, then the NBA itself has given it the green light…usually. There are occasions where developers have tried to sneak something into the games, and subsequently upset the NBA or another license holder in the process. These incidents have usually resulted in a reprimand, but on a couple of occasions, lawsuits have been involved. Here are five things that basketball game developers did that landed them in trouble, if only temporarily.

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Wayback Wednesday: 10 Longevity Records in Basketball Games

Wayback Wednesday: 10 Longevity Records in Basketball Games

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 ten longevity records players have set on the virtual hardwood.

With the Atlanta Hawks’ 2020 season officially over, Vince Carter has officially retired after 22 seasons in the league. The player once dubbed Half-Man, Half-Amazing, has certainly had a wholly amazing career. Beyond his breathtaking dunks, 360 layups, and other highlights, Carter set new marks for longevity, not only by playing the most seasons in NBA history, but also becoming the first player to appear in four different decades. Not bad for a player who briefly gained a reputation – albeit one that was somewhat overblown – for being fragile and constantly injured!

Needless to say, Vince Carter’s lengthy NBA career has set a few records in video games as well. However, he’s not the only player who holds some longevity-based distinctions on the virtual hardwood. I ran through these in Episode #329 of the NLSC Podcast, but I know that audio content isn’t for everyone, and it pays to have trivia like this written down as well. These records span many years of basketball gaming, so let’s take a look back…way back…

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NLSC Podcast #326: Letting It All Out This Week

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Episode #326 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! Dee4Three and I are your hosts for this week’s show.

This week, we’re letting it all out as we discuss a variety of topics! We begin with the impending return of the NBA, and our thoughts on the format to finish out the season. On that note, is this really the end of Vince Carter’s career? Elsewhere, a long-lost spin-off of SimCity has us wondering whether any more forgotten and unreleased basketball games will make it out into the wild. The rare version of NBA Jam with Michael Jordan springs to mind. Recent events also lead us to share some strong opinions on the use of Patreon in the modding community, and the focus on making money through the hobby. With EA Play on the horizon, we wonder once more about the future of NBA Live, and express some frustration. We also touch on representing the ABA on the virtual hardwood, and what would make for acceptable downloadable content in basketball games. Oh, and there’s a potentially divisive opinion about the Oklahoma City Thunder’s branding.

What’s your take on this week’s topics? Sound off in the comments section below, or join in the discussion here in the Forum! Additionally, feel free to hit us up with any feedback on the episode, as well as suggestions for topics that you’d like to hear us discuss in future episodes. For more information on the NLSC Podcast including episode guides, check out this page in our Wiki.

MessenjahMatt Returns With “The Last Dance” Video

MessenjahMatt: The Last Dance

The Last Dance has captivated basketball fans for the past couple of months, and now, it’s drawn a familiar figure in the basketball gaming community out of retirement. For the first time in eight years, legendary NBA 2K video creator MessenjahMatt has uploaded a new creation, inspired by the ten-part documentary on Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls!

Using a combination of clips from his previous NBA 2K11 videos and new footage taken from NBA 2K20, MessenjahMatt has re-created the trailer to The Last Dance, as well as the final moments of Game 6 of the 1998 NBA Finals. As with his previous works, the video is simply a masterpiece. I strongly recommend that you watch it below, or catch it here on his YouTube channel!

I previously profiled MessenjahMatt in a Wayback Wednesday article, noting that many of his techniques are still a mystery. To that end, I would highly recommend checking out the rest of his videos, which feature amazing re-creations of some of Michael Jordan’s best moments, and most famous commercials. He notes that The Last Dance may be his last video, and if it is, it’s a fantastic note to finish on, and a fitting tribute to an incredible documentary.

Wayback Wednesday: International Cover Players

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 history of international cover players for various basketball video games.

Cover players are an aspect of basketball gaming that has become more important over time. The player on the box and the title screen may not always have much of an impact on the game beyond pre-order cosmetic items in career modes and a card in the team building modes, but they’re nevertheless a talking point. After all, the reveal of the cover player generally signifies the beginning of a new game’s preview season, tipping off weeks and months of discussion about what we’re hoping to see from an upcoming release.

As basketball games have increased in popularity, cover players have become selling points and an indication of a game’s brand strength, if not necessarily its quality. Both EA Sports and 2K Sports have sought to appeal to local markets with regional covers that feature a player from the country in question (or in a pinch, have some connection with said nation). They’ve resulted in the international editions of games becoming collector’s items due to their novelty, and are of course interesting trivia notes. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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The Friday Five: 5 Hilarious-in-Hindsight Moments in Basketball Games

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 list of moments in basketball video games that are hilarious in hindsight, for one reason or another.

I’ve grown fond of saying that basketball games serve as time capsules, preserving snapshots of the league when they were released. It’s something that I believe, and it’s one of the things that make dusting off old titles fun. Scrolling through all the teams and looking at the rosters, you’re reminded of the forgotten stints of journeymen and stars alike, lineups that had so much promise but never panned out, and players who were pegged as being future stars. As I’ve said, basketball games become interactive almanacs of sorts, as they mark NBA milestones.

That’s not all they do, however. Sometimes they can seemingly predict the future, with the virtual hardwood suggesting unexpected events that actually come to pass in real life. Of course, other occurrences are clearly not prophesising the future, which underscores how it’s easy to call something a prediction in hindsight. Coincidences are amusing to note however, as are details that age poorly or become ironic when we look back at them. In either case, these moments found in various basketball video games become hilarious-in-hindsight – or at the very least, good for a smirk or a chuckle – and to that end, I have five examples to share with you today.

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Wayback Wednesday: Familiar Faces in Strange Places

Wayback Wednesday: Familiar Faces in Strange Places

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 players who became familiar faces in strange places, and the games that captured those stints.

With the NBA season on hiatus, a lot of the conversation on Twitter has turned to historical debates and reminiscing. I’ve seen a couple of recent threads talking about big names who had brief stints with teams that are often overlooked and forgotten. Those Tweets have taken the form of facetious captions describing these familiar faces in strange places as a legend of the team in question, sometimes with a photo for emphasis. It’s an apt way of describing the oddity of those stints, many of which we’d rather pretend didn’t happen (or at least, claim to).

They did happen of course, and we’ve got the photos, footage, and records to prove it. We’ve also got basketball video games, which as I’ve grown fond of saying, act as time capsules and interactive almanacs. In a previous Wayback Wednesday article, I noted how video games have marked various milestones in NBA history. This time, I’m reminiscing about the weird stints of well-known players, and the games we saw them in. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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NLSC Podcast #315: Old Games & Old Habits

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Episode #315 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! Join Dee4Three and myself as we talk about our basketball gaming habits and preferences, and how the games we grew up playing in the 90s and early 2000s ended up shaping those tastes.

With the NBA shut down for the foreseeable future, it’s a great time to not only catch up on gaming, but also classic NBA games. We discuss some of the ways the NBA could improve League Pass and the official YouTube channel, including some comparisons to the WWE Network. Speaking of history, the 25th Anniversary of Michael Jordan’s first comeback is making us feel old, but it’s a good excuse to play the Double Nickel game in NBA 2K11’s Jordan Challenge. On that note, our main discussion topic this week is our basketball gaming preferences past and present, with reflections on the titles from the 90s and early 2000s that influenced our tastes and habits. From our preferred quarter and season length to how often we sim and how much realism we like, those old games established how we approach the virtual hardwood. We also touch on some of the quirks of those old games.

Tune in below!

What are your basketball gaming preferences? Which games shaped them, and have they changed over the years? Sound off in the comments section below, or join in the discussion here in the Forum! Additionally, feel free to hit us up with any feedback on the episode, as well as suggestions for topics that you’d like to hear us discuss in future episodes. For more information on the NLSC Podcast including episode guides, check out this page in our Wiki.

Wayback Wednesday: 25 Years Since Michael Jordan Said “I’m Back”

Wayback Wednesday: 25 Years Since Michael Jordan Said "I'm Back"

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 marking the 25th Anniversary of the day Michael Jordan said “I’m Back”, and returned to the Chicago Bulls.

It’s funny how you don’t always feel the passage of time until you think about how long ago a certain event was. I felt it in 2008, when it had been ten years since the Chicago Bulls’ last championship. I felt it in 2011, when the Bulls celebrated the 20th Anniversary of their first title. It recently occurred to me that I’m now the same age that Michael Jordan was when he won that sixth ring in 1998. And yes, it strikes me that a whole decade has passed and hundreds of players have come and gone, as I continue to work on a current roster for NBA 2K11.

Today marks another milestone. It’s been twenty five years – or a quarter of a century, if you want to make it sound even more impressive – since Michael Jordan ended his first retirement from the NBA. MJ famously announced his return in two words: “I’m Back”. His return would ultimately expand his resume and bolster his claim to being the Greatest of All-Time, producing many more memorable moments along the way. It also had a noteworthy impact on the virtual hardwood. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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NLSC Podcast #309: A Tribute to Kobe Bryant

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Episode #309 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! This week, Dee4Three and I pay tribute to the late and legendary Kobe Bryant with reflections on his career, and impact on basketball video games.

It’s been almost a week, but it’s still hard to get our heads around the news that Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and seven others were killed in a helicopter accident. We extend our condolences to the Bryants and the other families who suffered this terrible loss, and talk about how we came to hear the news. This leads into some reflections on Kobe’s career, and how we came to regard him over the 20 years he played in the NBA. We also talk about his connection to video games as a cover player, and discuss the idea of a challenge mode in NBA 2K21, along with a roster project.

Tune in below!

What are your memories of Kobe Bryant, in real life and on the virtual hardwood? Sound off in the comments section below, or join in the discussion here in the Forum! Additionally, feel free to hit us up with any feedback on the episode, as well as suggestions for topics that you’d like to hear us discuss in future episodes. For more information on the NLSC Podcast including episode guides, check out this page in our Wiki.

Wayback Wednesday: NBA 2K13, Executive Produced by Jay-Z

Wayback Wednesday: NBA 2K13, Executive Produced by Jay-Z

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 role Jay-Z played as an executive producer on NBA 2K13.

Back in December, I wrote an article about Jay-Z’s forgotten cameo in NBA Live 07. I received some nice compliments from people who enjoyed learning about that for the first time, as well as some suggestions to look back at Jay-Z’s involvement as an executive producer on NBA 2K13. That topic was actually already on my list of ideas for Wayback Wednesday features, but since it’s been requested, I figure there’s no point delaying it any further. After all, it’s even better if I can cover these topics when there’s interest, and to that end, I’m open to suggestions!

For now though, let’s focus on Jay-Z and his role with NBA 2K13. Obviously, the rapper wasn’t actually spending hours coding at Visual Concepts’ studio in Novato, but as it turned out, he had a significant impact on the game. His title also briefly inspired a trend in our modding community. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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The Friday Five: 5 Predictions That Were Way Off

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 list of five NBA predictions that ended up being way off.

Here it is, the first Friday Five of 2020! It’s been a while since I’ve covered a topic related to the real NBA rather than the virtual hardwood, so I thought that I’d tip off the year (and decade) with a change of pace. Don’t worry, I’ve still got plenty of topics related to basketball video games that I’ll be covering in my features, but this week, I’d like to talk about NBA predictions. After all, we’re rapidly approaching the midway point of the 2020 season, and we’re starting to get a clearer picture of the top teams and how they stack up against one another.

It’s as good a time as any to start throwing out some midseason predictions, but keep in mind that there’s a lot of basketball left to play. A lot can change very quickly in the NBA, and while we can make educated guesses in our picks, a seemingly likely outcome can be denied by a twist of fate. At the same time, some people – including supposed expert analysts – will make wild predictions. Some may be trying to get ahead of the curve by expecting the unexpected, while others are relying on sources that are less than reliable. Whatever the case may be, we’ve seen some bold and crazy predictions over the years, with these five examples turning out to be quite wrong.

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