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NLSC Podcast #438: NBA 2K23 Gameplay Blog, Bill Russell, & Classic Cam

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From courtside of the virtual hardwood, it’s Episode #438 of the NLSC Podcast!

This week’s show opens with a tribute to the late, great Bill Russell, truly one of the most legendary figures in basketball history. As we catch up on what we’ve been playing recently – including another NBA 2K14 MyCAREER update – we discuss our fondness for Classic Cam, and our appreciation of its appearances in later games. We also reflect on NBA Showtime: NBA on NBC, and compare NBA Live 06 and NBA 2K6 on Xbox 360. On the heels of the First Look Trailer, the first developer blog of the preview season provided us with insights into gameplay in NBA 2K23, and we have plenty of thoughts to share! We also open up the mailbag to hear what the community thought of the blog.

To get involved with the mailbag or to provide any feedback on the show, hit us up in the comments, reach out on social media, or post here in the NLSC Forum! For more information on the NLSC Podcast including episode guides, check out this page in our Wiki. You can also find the show on our YouTube channel, along with the rest of our video content. As always, thanks for tuning in, and go get buckets!

NLSC Top 10 Plays of the Week: August 6th, 2022

NLSC Top 10 Plays of the Week

Get ready for more fantastic highlights from the basketball gaming community in the NLSC Top 10 Plays of the Week, curated by Dee4Three! New and old games alike are featured in this celebration of spectacular moments on the virtual hardwood. To submit your clips, post them in this topic, or hit up Dee on Twitter.

This week’s NLSC Top 10 Plays celebrates highlights at both ends of the virtual hardwood, with a bevy of high-flying jams, brutal poster dunks, blocks, and behind-the-back passes. The NBA Live 2001 Legends Nate and Roger return with their favourite game, LookyDaGamer lives up to his reputation as a Putback King with an incredible clean up of a miss, and I even take a break from MyCAREER (albeit still with a highlight from NBA 2K14 PS4)! This week’s countdown also pays tribute to the late great Bill Russell, who sadly passed away last Sunday.

What was your favourite highlight this week? Sound off in the comments below, and once again, get in on the fun by sending us your best plays! Remember, as long as it’s a basketball game, it’s eligible for the countdown. Also, don’t forget to subscribe to us on YouTube for more basketball gaming videos.

The Friday Five: 5 Players In More Video Games Than NBA Games Played (Part 6)

The Friday Five: 5 Players In More Video Games Than NBA Games Played (Part 6)

Welcome to another edition of The Friday Five! Every Friday I cover a topic related to basketball gaming, either as a list of five items, or a Top 5 countdown. The topics for these lists and countdowns include everything from fun facts and recollections to commentary and critique. This week’s Five is Part 6 in an ongoing series listing players that appeared in more video games than actual NBA games.

When it comes to trivia like this, I’m always concerned about running the topic into the ground. I always want my features to be fresh and interesting, and going back to a particular subject does invite repetition, while potentially appearing to be lacking in imagination. At the same time, I want to be thorough, covering all of the relevant and interesting examples. It’s why I’ve repurposed some topics that I originally planned as Friday Five series into longer lists for Wayback Wednesday. Since this one goes back a few years and has five instalments already, I figured I’d keep the ball rolling.

Meta musings about my “process” aside, I do have another five examples of players who appeared in more video games than NBA games. It’s not an unprecedented phenomenon – obviously, since we’re up to Part 6 – but it’s still somewhat unusual. You’d expect there to be more examples of players who made the NBA yet were left out of games, but that’s become rarer thanks to official roster updates. Alternatively, you might expect players who fall just short of officially debuting in the NBA to be absent from video games entirely. When the timing is right though, those players get to play on the virtual hardwood, while having some interesting stories in real life.

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Wayback Wednesday: Playing An Older Game Second

Wayback Wednesday: Playing An Older Game Second

This is Wayback Wednesday, your midweek blast from the past! From retrospectives of basketball games and their interesting features, to republished articles and looking at NBA history through the lens of the virtual hardwood, Wednesdays at the NLSC are for going back in time. This week, I’m taking a look back at the phenomenon of playing an older basketball game after its direct sequel, or one of its later successors.

Basketball video games have been around for decades now, with NBA Basketball – the very first NBA-licensed title – coming out in 1980. Furthermore, there’s been at least one annual release every year for at least a quarter of a century and counting. Every single game, good or bad, has been somebody’s first title and introduction to basketball gaming. In short, most people who are playing basketball games in 2022 haven’t been doing so since the beginning. That goes for me, too. Many gamers have hit the virtual hardwood long before I ever did in the mid 90s.

When you get into an established series, there’s a curiosity about what came before. This doesn’t just apply to video games, of course. If you catch an episode of a TV show that’s a few seasons in, or perhaps see a movie that’s part of a series or cinematic universe, you may be inclined to go back to the beginning. In basketball itself, there’s a desire to learn the history of the sport, the NBA, and other leagues…or at least, there used to be. The nature of video games makes going back to an older title after playing a newer game rather interesting, and it’s a phenomenon that I’ve experienced as both a younger and older basketball gamer. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Wayback Wednesday: Familiar Faces Back in Familiar Places (Part 7)

This is Wayback Wednesday, your midweek blast from the past! From retrospectives of basketball games and their interesting features, to republished articles and looking at NBA history through the lens of the virtual hardwood, Wednesdays at the NLSC are for going back in time. This week, I’m taking a look back at another ten players that became familiar faces back in familiar places.

We’ve reached the seventh and (for the moment) final instalment of the Familiar Faces Back in Familiar Places series! As a spinoff of the Familiar Faces in Strange Places series of articles, I wanted to match its seven instalments and 70 examples of players with interesting stints. One of the reasons I love compiling these lists is that these stints – both the ones in strange places and back in familiar places – are often forgotten. Of course, sometimes we’d prefer that, as the players were shells of their former selves by that point!

Once again, I’ll note that I’m looking at these examples through the lens of basketball video games. As I’ve explained before, I do this because it fits in with our content as a site about basketball gaming, and because revisiting old games is one way that we’re reminded of the stints that we’ve forgotten. It also makes things more challenging as I’m trying to seek out the most interesting stories, and limit examples to ones that can be found in official rosters. To that point, there are fewer stars in this instalment, but certainly some noteworthy NBA player trivia. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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The Friday Five: 5 Cover Players That Won Titles The Same Year

The Friday Five: 5 Cover Players That Won Titles The Same Year

Welcome to another edition of The Friday Five! Every Friday I cover a topic related to basketball gaming, either as a list of five items, or a Top 5 countdown. The topics for these lists and countdowns include everything from fun facts and recollections to commentary and critique. This week’s Five is a list of five cover players that won NBA titles in the same season their game came out.

Last week, I listed five players who graced video game covers in the same year that they made the NBA Finals. More specifically, I was referring to players who made the Finals, but were ultimately the runners-up. Obviously, cover players who won titles while being the face of a game technically qualify as examples for last week’s list as well. However, I did want to draw a distinction between the cover players who “only” made it to the Finals that same year, and those who actually won titles. While both are accomplishments and interesting trivia, the latter is naturally rather more special.

To that end, the number of cover players that won titles in the same year is smaller than the already select group of names who made the Finals while being the face of NBA Live, NBA 2K, or another title. As I noted last week, publishers like EA and 2K are no doubt more interested in a player’s popularity and marketability than whether they’ll be in the Finals, or NBA Champions. I have no doubt that they’re happy when it does occur, but given that it’s a gamble even if they ink a deal with a player from a contender, it’s a bonus boost to the brand at the end of the day. NBA Champion cover players are something that a handful of titles can boast however, including these five.

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Wayback Wednesday: Single Season Players Who Were Starters

Wayback Wednesday: Single Season Players Who Were Starters

This is Wayback Wednesday, your midweek blast from the past! From retrospectives of basketball games and their interesting features, to republished articles and looking at NBA history through the lens of the virtual hardwood, Wednesdays at the NLSC are for going back in time. This week, I’m taking a look back at players who only played a single season in the NBA, but ended up being regular starters.

On top of the players that have just one appearance in the NBA – “cups of coffee“, as Basketball Reference labels them – there are many players who spent just a single season in the league. While this is still a tremendous accomplishment, it may be surprising, not to mention disappointing for seemingly promising prospects. Usually, these players only appeared in a handful of games, playing sparingly. You generally wouldn’t expect them to be starters, at least outside of a game or two when injuries opened up a rare opportunity.

Surprisingly, several single season players were starters for a respectable chunk of their only NBA campaigns. For the purposes of compiling the most interesting and relevant list – i.e. not just including anyone who played one season and started a few games – I’ve set the cut-off at starting in at least 20% of their appearances. That might still seem generous, but considering that most single season players have ridden the bench, it represents some regular forays into the starting five. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Wayback Wednesday: Oldest NBA Rookies & Their Video Game Debuts

Wayback Wednesday: Oldest NBA Rookies & Their Video Game Debuts

This is Wayback Wednesday, your midweek blast from the past! From retrospectives of basketball games and their interesting features, to republished articles and looking at NBA history through the lens of the virtual hardwood, Wednesdays at the NLSC are for going back in time. This week, I’m taking a look back at the oldest rookies in NBA history, and their subsequent video game debuts.

One of the interesting oddities about early iterations of MyCAREER is that you were able to set your age. This meant that if you wanted to role-play as an established pro that was finally making their way to the NBA, then you could effectively make that part of your bio. These days, your MyPLAYER avatar has a fixed age that fits their back story, that generally being a young player coming out of college. It makes sense, but considering that there have been many rookies that are new to the league but not to professional basketball, it’s a shame that such an option is no longer available.

Of course, we still see real examples of latecomers to the NBA in the official rosters, and there have been some noteworthy stories over the years. I’ll admit that since I’ve entered my 30s, I have a greater appreciation for the NBA’s oldest rookies, especially in an era where there seems to be a Logan’s Run approach to veteran players. In fact, referring to them as the “oldest rookies” feels rather strange now that I’m older than they were at the time! Between these rookies being the oldest debutants and some of the games that they were featured in, this is definitely one for the “old heads”. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: Aiming For Stats & Records

Monday Tip-Off: Aiming For Stats & Records

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Join me as I begin the week here at the NLSC with my opinions and commentary on basketball gaming topics, as well as tales of the fun I’ve been having on the virtual hardwood. This week, I’m tipping things off with some thoughts on what it’s like when we aim for stats and records on the virtual hardwood.

Not to sound like a grumpy old man or anything, but there’s a big emphasis on stats and records in the NBA these days. That’s not to say they weren’t ever relevant, or something that fans and players alike never cared about. Wilt Chamberlain was very much aware of his stats and records, so this mentality predates the three-point era, let alone the past couple of generations. However, it does seem like everyone is obsessed with numbers these days – including rather obscure statistical achievements – to the point where actually winning games and even championships seems secondary.

It’s interesting how this mentality also applies to basketball gaming. Of course, we’ve long used hoops games to put up crazy numbers, leading to a big night for players in real life to be referred to as a “video game performance”. A handful of video games over the past couple of generations have even challenged us to put up stats and beat NBA records for Trophies and Achievements. The funny thing is that it’s not always easy to post ridiculous numbers on the virtual hardwood, or to replicate the feats of NBA greats and record holders. Also, while it’s fun to try alone, chasing records and stats can be a disastrous approach in online play, coming at the expense of winning.

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The Friday Five: 5 Players In More Video Games Than NBA Games Played (Part 5)

The Friday Five: 5 Players In More Video Games Than NBA Games Played (Part 5)

Welcome to another edition of The Friday Five! Every Friday I cover a topic related to basketball gaming, either as a list of five items, or a Top 5 countdown. The topics for these lists and countdowns include everything from fun facts and recollections to commentary and critique. This week’s Five is Part 5 in an ongoing series listing players that appeared in more video games than actual NBA games.

Due to the interactive almanac aspect of basketball video games – yes, there’s that phrase again – they’re a great way of remembering players long after they’ve retired. If you spent a lot of time poring over the rosters in old games, either while modding or perhaps playing a franchise game, you might even find that you’re able to recall the names of benchwarmers from years ago, without even firing up those titles. Even if you can’t recall them off the top of your head, once you dust off an old game and start browsing the rosters, even the most obscure names will likely come back to you.

Indeed, you’ll probably only recall some of the most obscure names because of the time you spent on the virtual hardwood. As is evident by this being the fifth article covering this topic, there are a number of players who made their way into the official rosters of video games despite never actually playing in the NBA. If you follow the NCAA or foreign leagues, some of these players may be familiar due to their stints and accomplishments elsewhere. Most of us probably remember them as names in the Free Agents Pool, or on the deep bench in the default rosters. Those players do have some interesting stories though, especially when they end up being in multiple titles.

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The Friday Five: 5 Players Who Only Appeared on Certain Teams in Games (Part 3)

The Friday Five: 5 Players Who Only Appeared on Certain Teams in Games (Part 3)

Welcome to another edition of The Friday Five! Every Friday I cover a topic related to basketball gaming, either as a list of five items, or a Top 5 countdown. The topics for these lists and countdowns include everything from fun facts and recollections to commentary and critique. This week’s Five is Part 3 in an ongoing series where I look at players who only appeared on certain teams in video games.

Yes, it’s time to take a look at another five players who only made appearances for certain teams on the virtual hardwood! As much as old basketball games can serve as interactive almanacs, they do lack context that tells the whole story. The snapshot of the NBA that they preserve may just be a fleeting moment, which doesn’t always make them a reliable reference. Of course, if you’re working on a retro roster project, you’ll probably be using a resource such as Basketball Reference instead. Then again, it’s not infallible, either.

Indeed, one of the players that I’m discussing today had a “phantom stint” that isn’t adequately explained over on Basketball Reference. On top of its inclusion in a video game serving as a reminder, this article will probably end up being one of the few places online that mentions it; hooray for search engine visibility! It’s not the only interesting story though, and the five players that I’m covering here in Part 3 are not the final examples of players who are members of the Phantom Stint Club. That means more instalments of this series in the future, but for now, here are five more stints seen only in games. A couple of the names will probably be a surprise!

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Monday Tip-Off: Look Beyond What You See

Monday Tip-Off: Look Beyond What You See

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Join me as I begin the week here at the NLSC with my opinions and commentary on basketball gaming topics, as well as tales of the fun I’ve been having on the virtual hardwood. This week, I’m tipping things off with some advice to look beyond what you see when it comes to visuals on the virtual hardwood.

I’ll be honest: I never thought that I’d be quoting Rafiki in an article about basketball video games. The sentiment fits though, so hey, hakuna matata. As in the metaphor that’s repeated a few times during the course of The Lion King 1½, there’s value in looking beyond the superficial aspects of basketball video games. That’s not to say that graphics aren’t in any way important. They form our first impressions of a new title, and when a new generation launches, we do expect to see some sort of leap as far as the graphics are concerned.

As such, I’m not trying to dismiss criticism of – or downplay disappointment in – the graphics of NBA 2K on PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X (or any other game, for that matter). However, there’s a reason we have a long-running gag on the NLSC Podcast about cancelling pre-orders if a new game doesn’t feature any shoelace physics. It’s easy for me to say because I grew up with games that look extremely primitive now, but we can get too caught up in visual details that are inconsequential in the long run. Whether critiquing a game or simply seeking to enjoy it, I’d suggest that you’ll gain far more valuable insights and satisfaction if you look beyond what you see.

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Wayback Wednesday: 20 Players With No Official Appearances in Games

Wayback Wednesday: 18 Players With No Official Appearances in 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 twenty NBA players that have made no official appearances in video games.

I have an ongoing series of Friday Five articles documenting players who appeared in more video games than real NBA contests. While a handful of those players did tally playing time in at least one NBA game while sometimes appearing in multiple titles, several of them only saw action on the virtual hardwood after being cut in real life while the game was still in production. This article is basically the opposite of that series, instead focusing on players that did make it to the NBA, but due to the timing of their stints, never made it into a video game’s official rosters.

I’d originally planned this as a counterpart series of Friday Five articles, but I’ve instead opted for a single article listing twenty noteworthy examples. To that point, I’ve tried to select players who had interesting stories, and/or multiple opportunities to make official appearances in video games. I’ve also focused on games from NBA Live 96 onwards, as those titles have included more comprehensive lineups thanks to inactive rosters and official updates. Official roster updates have also made this a far less likely phenomenon as the years have gone by. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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NLSC Podcast #399: NBA Live Mythbusters

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Episode #399 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! Derek (aka Dee4Three) and I are your hosts for this weekly podcast that’s all about basketball gaming.

Following a session with the Xbox 360 version of NBA Live 06 over Parsec, we’re compelled to take an in-depth look back at the controversial title. In particular, we take it upon ourselves to bust a few myths regarding the game’s quality, and what actually led to its less than stellar reception. We also got NBA Live 09 working over Parsec, and it too made a positive second impression on us. Indeed, we may have found a couple of new retro gaming kicks! In other retro gaming news, it appears as though content for NBA 2K17 may be gone forever; at least if it’s installed fresh today. Nevertheless, our advocacy for retro basketball gaming continues, even as we play NBA 2K22!

Join in the conversation in the comments below, or here in the Forum! Additionally, feel free to hit us up with any feedback on the episode, as well as mailbag questions and topic suggestions for future shows. For more information on the NLSC Podcast including episode guides, check out this page in our Wiki. The show also comes out on our YouTube channel, so be sure to subscribe for future episodes and other video content.

NLSC Top 10 Plays of the Week: October 30th, 2021

NLSC Top 10 Plays of the Week

It’s time to enjoy some virtual hardwood highlights in the NLSC Top 10 Plays of the Week! This is a weekly feature curated by Derek (aka Dee4Three) spotlighting the best plays from the basketball gaming community, which includes a few of our own memorable clips from time to time. Submit your clips in the Forum, or hit up Derek on Twitter!

As someone who grew up with NBA Live, it’s heartening to see highlights from various games in the series featured in this week’s NLSC Top 10 Plays. Obviously the series has fallen on hard times, but there were some great releases, and it’s awesome to see gamers still having fun with them. On top of that, there are highlights from College Hoops 2K8, NBA 2K6, and of course, NBA 2K22. From gamewinners to spectacular slams worthy of the dunk contest, I know that I won’t be alone in enjoying the latest countdown.

What was your favourite highlight this week? Sound off in the comments below, and once again, get in on the fun by sending us your spectacular moments on the virtual hardwood or blacktop. All basketball games are welcome, new and old! Also, be sure to subscribe to us on YouTube for more basketball gaming videos.