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The Friday Five: Top 5 Announcers 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 countdown of the Top 5 announcers in basketball video games.

It’s been almost a year since I did a Top 5 countdown in The Friday Five. Seeing as how it’s one of the reasons this feature is The Friday Five, it’s time to remedy that. This time, I’m counting down the Top 5 Announcers in all of basketball video games, meaning both sim and arcade titles. I’m also featuring announcers who call real NBA games and voice actors who have provided commentary over the years. If that isn’t already a spoiler, yes, legendary voice of NBA Jam Tim Kitzrow is on the list. The question is: who are the other four announcers?

For that matter, what makes a great announcer in a basketball video game? In a sim game, it usually means authenticity in replicating a broadcast, from play-by-play to colour commentary. Conversely, arcade games benefit from commentary that isn’t as focused on play-by-play, but rather exaggerated reactions and catchphrases. The announcers play a key role in establishing the overall atmosphere and vibe of a hoops title, which goes a long way in getting us hooked and keeping us engaged. Obviously countdowns like this are always subjective, but I’d suggest that thanks to these five announcers, our experiences on the virtual hardwood have been greatly enhanced.

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Wayback Wednesday: Scottie Pippen in Basketball Games

Wayback Wednesday: Scottie Pippen 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 Scottie Pippen and his legacy in basketball video games.

Chicago Bulls legend and Hall of Famer Scottie Pippen turns 54 today. Incidentally, September 25th is a birthday that he shares with Mark Hamill, Will Smith, and my friend Courtney (Happy 30th Birthday, Courtney!). As you may know, my all-time favourite player is Michael Jordan, but Scottie Pippen is a close second, being MJ’s teammate on six Bulls championship squads in the 90s. I have many fond memories of that dynamic duo – dubbed “The Dobermans” by Johnny Bach due to their tenacity at both ends of the court – which could fill several Wayback Wednesday articles.

However, we obviously focus on basketball video games here at the NLSC. To that end, as it’s Pip’s birthday and he’s one of my all-time favourite players – as well as one of the greatest players in the history of basketball – it seems only appropriate that I take a look back at his legacy on the virtual hardwood. In my opinion, he has a rather interesting history in that regard, given how basketball video games were developed during his prime, and considering his standing among the NBA greats. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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The Friday Five: 5 New Basketball Games I’d Like to See

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 new basketball games that I’d like to see developed in the future.

Happy 2K Day everyone! NBA 2K20 is out today, which means a lot of gamers in our community will be spending time with it this weekend; I know I will be! While I hope I’ll enjoy NBA 2K20 as much as I did NBA 2K19, I’m also hoping that it won’t be the only release this year. We’re still waiting on any information about NBA Live 20, and the future of the NBA Live series. A release is slated for next quarter and various reps have said that EA Sports aren’t pulling the plug, so we can only wait and see what happens.

I still firmly believe that we need at least two viable choices when it comes to the sim-oriented NBA games on the market. Ideally, we’d also have some more arcade games and other titles to choose from, too. Obviously a lot of people are getting the virtual basketball experience they crave from NBA 2K, but competition, alternatives, and different takes on the sport are important to have. Beyond seeing NBA Live catch up to NBA 2K and be competitive again, there are other ideas for basketball games that I’d like to see come to fruition. Some of these ideas are easier said than done when you take licensing into account, but I’m throwing them out there anyway.

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The Friday Five: 5 Odd Mistakes in Old 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 five odd mistakes that could be found in old basketball games.

Authenticity is the name of the game, especially for sim titles. Over the years, eagle-eyed hoops gamers have proven adept at spotting mistakes, big or small. Whether it’s an inaccuracy in a court or jersey, a rating that is way off, or some other error, you can be sure that someone with an eye for detail will point it out. Some mistakes are easy to fix ourselves, while others require some modding skill (and for that matter, a game that is easily moddable). Official updates have also become far more detailed over the years, correcting many minor (and sometimes major) mistakes post-release.

As for why these mistakes occur, the simple answer is that the developers are human, and it’s easy to overlook a detail here and there. There are also times when mistakes and inaccuracies are the result of technical limitations, licensing issues, or some other factor. With that in mind, it’s no surprise that older hoops games have featured some odd mistakes through the years. We still see inaccuracies in modern games, many of which are addressed by official updates, but they’re generally not as weird and quirky as the mistakes in old titles. Here are five of my picks for the oddest mistakes that we’ve seen in various classic basketball video games.

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Monday Tip-Off: Balancing Positivity & Negativity

LeBron James dunks in NBA 2K19

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 thoughts on the delicate act of balancing the amount of positivity and negativity as a content creator.

There’s a reason that I’m still running the NLSC going on eighteen years this August. There’s a reason I decided that I would take the risk on paying for our own hosting after our previous host discontinued their services, and it looked like we might have to shut down after twenty years online. Basketball video games are still a hobby that I enjoy, and enjoy to the extent that I want to create content as part of a community that I discovered way back in 1997. The NLSC was one of my favourite sites before I took over running it, and since that time, it’s become a gratifying creative outlet for me.

I’ve enjoyed establishing original content beyond mods and basketball gaming news: the NLSC Podcast, The Friday Five, Wayback Wednesday, and this feature, Monday Tip-Off. I like covering a variety of topics in these features, from advice and stories about what I’m playing, to constructive articles about improving the games and what I hope is interesting trivia. I’m always aiming for variety in the games that I talk about, but I’m not just balancing coverage between NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other titles. As I discuss all manner of topics regarding basketball video games, I’m trying my best to maintain a healthy balance between positivity and negativity in my features.

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Wayback Wednesday: Old School Season Modes

Old School Season Modes (NBA Live 96)

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 old school Season modes.

Modern basketball games have their issues which are important to discuss, but one thing we can’t say is that they don’t offer a variety of experiences. Even though NBA Live’s modes are still in need of fleshing out, by including Franchise, Ultimate Team, and The One with its connected experiences, we’re presented with a few choices. One of NBA 2K’s strengths for many years has been its deep modes, with MyLEAGUE, MyGM, MyTEAM, and MyCAREER’s online and offline modes keeping us hooked year after year. We’re provided several different ways of playing virtual basketball.

As much as the controls, graphics, physics, and any other aspect of modern titles, it’s the modes that make old basketball video games look primitive. The most in-depth experience on offer was generally the single Season mode, with minimal GM options and no independent action by the CPU teams. Nevertheless, we made the most of those old school Season modes, until they evolved into the multi-faceted, multi-season experiences that they would eventually become. They’re an important step in the evolution of basketball gaming, so let’s take a look back…way back…

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NBA Jam TE – Double Z Mod Released (SNES)

Double Z Mod for NBA Jam TE

An exciting new release by eskayelle has been added to our Downloads section: the Double Z Mod for the Super Nintendo version of NBA Jam Tournament Edition! The mod is an ultimate 90s update for NBA Jam TE on SNES, adding several new players and teams. An overview of the key features is as follows:

  • Forget the Rookies! Now play as the 1992 Dream Team!
  • Bugs from the original game have been fixed, i.e., the Grand Champions and Injuries bugs.
  • Assets from the original game have been restored, such as the Mortal Kombat banners.
  • Battle the 27 NBA teams from worst to first, based on 1992-93 conference standings and playoffs results.
  • Tons of new secret characters, including Hulk Hogan, David Hasselhoff, Arnie (as the T-800), and more!
  • Play as the 72-10 1996 Chicago Bulls!
  • Play as the Motor City Bad Boys!
  • Play as “The Worm”, Dennis Rodman, on at least four teams!
  • Play as a new Underdogs team, pairing up some secret characters and other interesting match-ups.
  • Expanded rosters are now as easy as inputting 2 versions of the Konami code.
  • Enjoy new announcer sound clips with some serious 90s sound bytes. Just try not to smile when you hear the Macho Man chime in…or Ric Flair…WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!
  • As an added bonus, included is a patch to play as Jean-Claude Van Damme. Welcome to NBA Jamme!

Download it here, and check out the release topic here for further information, support, and previews. eskayelle is also working on an NBA Jam 2K20 TE mod which will update the game with current season rosters, similar to the NBA Jam 2K17 mod that was released a couple of years ago. You can find more information on that project here.

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The Friday Five: 5 What If Scenarios in Basketball Gaming

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 gets hypothetical, as I consider five “What If” scenarios in basketball gaming.

Even though we shouldn’t tie ourselves up in knots dwelling on the past, it’s hard to resist the allure of a fascinating “What If” scenario. What if Michael Jordan didn’t retire in 1993? What if he never returned in 1995, or in 2001? What if the Boston Celtics had won the Draft lottery in 1997? What if the Oklahoma City Thunder had never traded James Harden, or remained the Seattle SuperSonics? What if LeBron James had never taken his talents to South Beach? For each of these scenarios, we can debate and speculate as to how history would differ in both outcomes and perspective.

The real NBA provides us with plenty of “What If” scenarios, as there are so many events that have the potential to be pivotal: trades, free agent signings, lottery results, injuries, clutch shots, and fateful decisions in crunch time of the biggest games. For the most part, the history of the virtual hardwood goes hand in hand with the general improvements and progression of video games as a whole, but a few big moments – as well as a few things that didn’t happen – have shaped the hobby as we know it. This is by no means an exhaustive list of all the twists and turns that basketball gaming may possibly have taken, but they are five “What If” scenarios that I find interesting.

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The Friday Five: 5 Times PC Gamers Missed Out 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 five times that PC gamers have missed out when it comes to the virtual hardwood.

Due to the popularity of the PC platform in our community, it’s all too easy to forget that it isn’t a priority for sports video game developers. Consoles account for a bulk of the annual sales, making PC sports gamers a niche within a niche. That hasn’t stopped us from having a lot of fun with the games that have come out on PC though, thanks in no small part to what our modding community has been capable of throughout the years. Furthermore, if you go back and look at the history of NBA Live on PC, there was a time when those releases could be considered the definitive version.

Unfortunately, playing on PC has sometimes led to missing out on content, or certain games altogether. From a developer’s perspective, consoles provide the convenience of standard hardware and digital platforms, as well as more security when it comes to piracy. Developing for the PC is more challenging due to differing hardware, as well as distribution methods. Even when the former hasn’t been a barrier to getting a PC release, the latter has prevented it from receiving the same level of support, including downloadable content. We’re fortunate enough to still get basketball games on PC, but here are five times that we weren’t so lucky on the platform.

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Wayback Wednesday: The Original NBA Jam

NBA Jam Arcade Title Screen

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 original NBA Jam with an overdue retrospective.

It occurred to me that although I’ve been running these Wayback Wednesday features since 2015, I’ve yet to cover the original NBA Jam, released by Midway in 1993. I’ve talked a lot about its sequel, NBA Jam Tournament Edition, and even covered its spiritual predecessor, Arch Rivals, but I haven’t profiled the famous game that tipped off an iconic series (and indeed, an entire subgenre of basketball gaming). That’s partly because NBA Jam TE is one of my all-time favourite games, but it’s about time that I fill in the gaps and talk about the original.

As an undisputed classic, it’s difficult to say anything about NBA Jam that someone else hasn’t already said. However, it’s too fun, too amazing, and simply too important in the history of basketball gaming for me not to discuss it in a Wayback Wednesday feature. It brought us Fire, shattered backboards, and the legendary commentary of Tim Kitzrow…it’s NBA Jam! Let’s take a look back…way back…

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NLSC Podcast #280: Tim Kitzrow, Voice of NBA Jam

NLSC Podcast Logo

Episode #280 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! Dare I say it, this week’s episode is ON FIRE, as I had an opportunity to chat with the legendary voice of NBA Jam himself, Tim Kitzrow! It was a lot of fun talking to Tim, who was very generous with his time and stories. Be sure to follow Tim on Twitter, and hit up Who Said What Now to order your own custom audio messages from the Baron of Boomshakalaka!

The voice of NBA Jam, Tim Kitzrow, joins the NLSC Podcast this week for an extended interview. Tim provides an insight into how he went from classically trained actor and improv artist with The Second City in Chicago, to being the voice of one of basketball gaming’s most iconic series. From the origins of the word Boomshakalaka and fascinating tidbits about NBA Jam and other games Tim has worked on, to Tim’s recent projects and a bunch of other fun stories, this week’s show is a must-listen for all NBA Jam enthusiasts!

Tune in below!

I hope you enjoyed my interview with Tim Kitzrow! Sound off with your thoughts on the NBA Jam series 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.

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Monday Tip-Off: Music in Basketball Video Games

NBA Live 19 Mixtape

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 thoughts on the role that music plays in the basketball gaming experience.

One of the most recent patches for NBA Live 19 added a new song featuring Jadakiss, further demonstrating that all kinds of new content can be added post-release these days. Reactions to the new song can basically be broken up into three main responses. If you dig the track, it’s cool to see and hear it in the game. If it’s not your sound, you might grumble about the lack of “real music” among the tracks. If you don’t have any strong feelings about the song, you’ll likely be largely indifferent, except perhaps for some frustration that it didn’t constitute a more significant addition or update.

For most basketball gamers, the soundtrack ultimately doesn’t make or break a title. The action on the virtual hardwood is of much greater importance; you can always mute the soundtrack and put on your own music, but you can’t always find a way to enjoy the experience when there are significant gameplay flaws, or the modes are lacking. Nevertheless, in its own way, music has been an important part of basketball gaming over the years. It’s easy to think of it as nothing but background noise, but it does subtly influence our opinions of games, and shapes our nostalgia for them. In some cases, it can even affect us beyond our view of the games themselves.

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Wayback Wednesday: Barkley Shut Up and Jam!

Barkley Shut Up and Jam! Title Screen

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 Barkley Shut Up and Jam (officially titled Barkley Shut Up and Jam!).

Whenever someone or something is successful, you can be certain that a bunch of imitators will spring up. They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but from the standpoint of a consumer, it usually leaves us with a marketplace full of knock-off products that don’t match the original in quality. This phenomenon occurs quite often in video gaming, whenever a revolutionary title bursts onto the scene. In basketball gaming, few titles have had the same impact as NBA Jam, and the game that defined the subgenre of arcade hoops has inspired many imitators over the years.

These NBA Jam-style games have varied in quality. None have matched the games that inspired them, but a few have been solid in their own right. Others fell well short of replicating the fun arcade basketball action that NBA Jam pioneered. Since today is Charles Barkley’s 56th Birthday, I’m profiling an NBA Jam clone that he endorsed: the more aggressively titled Barkley Shut Up and Jam! It’s a game that you may be familiar with if you grew up in the 90s, but does it hold up as the original NBA Jam games do? Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Wayback Wednesday: Cheat Codes in Basketball Video Games

Menu for Cheat Codes in NBA 2K13

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 some of the cheat codes that were featured in older basketball games.

When it comes to video game nostalgia, a feature that many of us old school gamers remember fondly is the cheat code. These days, accelerating progress in most games comes down to pay-to-win mechanics, but once upon a time, we used cheat codes in the form of passwords and button combinations. While cheat codes aren’t completely outmoded, they seem to be far less common than they once were. In basketball games, they’ve generally been phased out over the past generation or so.

It’s kind of a shame. While they aren’t necessary – especially in sim games – they were often fun ways of altering the gameplay experience, and hid some cool secrets. Some games used them to unlock new content with the codes being revealed at some point post-launch; something of a precursor to the content updates we now see. There have been quite a few memorable cheat codes in basketball video games over the years, so let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: What Actually Ruins Basketball Video Games?

Victor Oladipo in NBA 2K19

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 thoughts on the matter of what actually ruins basketball video games, and what are really more minor gripes.

Having been a part of the online basketball gaming community for over twenty years and admin of the NLSC for going on eighteen, I’ve both seen and taken part in some spirited discussions about the hobby. Our conversations about basketball video games have run the gamut from excitedly positive to furiously negative, depending on the issue and the quality of any given title. Given that we all have different tastes and expectations of basketball video games, our opinions will differ when it comes what will ruin our experience on the virtual hardwood. That’s fine, and to be encouraged!

Of course, it’s easy to exaggerate, especially when a pet peeve is involved. I recall one Forum member fuming over the use of the word “City” on the team statistics menu in NBA Live 2001. As they correctly pointed out, teams such as the Warriors, Jazz, and Pacers all take their names from their state rather than their city, making that label inaccurate. It’s a valid point, but a minor detail that was correct for most of the teams, and a criticism that paled in comparison with other issues in NBA Live 2001. Such issues are worth pointing out, but as we compile our Wishlists, it’s important that we prioritise problems that can ruin basketball video games, ahead of minor annoyances.

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