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Wayback Wednesday: NBA Live 08 Practice Arena

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 practice arena in NBA Live 08.

For artists working on sim basketball games, there isn’t always a lot of room for creativity. Since the aim of the genre is to depict the NBA, its teams, and its players as realistically as possible, there aren’t as many opportunities to take liberties and utilise creative license. However, there are a few areas of the game that invite an artistic flourish, including settings such as The Neighborhood and The City, special effects in MyTEAM, fictional street courts, certain clothing items, and the frontend in general. Oh, and the practice arena.

Over the years, a lot of creativity has gone into creating an appealing practice arena for us to shoot around in, particularly in NBA Live. We’ve had The Temple in NBA Live 06 and 07, The Hangar in NBA Live 10, and the adidas-branded gym in NBA Live 15. NBA Live 09 introduced us to the NBA Live Academy. In NBA Live 19, we were even invited to design our own court where we could shoot around. A setting that is often overlooked, however, is the humble practice arena in the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 version of NBA Live 08. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Wayback Wednesday: The Pressbook in NBA 2K

Wayback Wednesday: The Pressbook in NBA 2K

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 Pressbook that appeared in only a few NBA 2K games.

As much as I enjoy looking back at games and their major features in my Wayback Wednesday articles, it’s also nice to appreciate the little things. While the appeal of basketball video games lies in enjoyable gameplay and engaging modes, the little things can be that extra touch that really makes the experience. Sometimes they add convenience, or simply enhance the overall atmosphere of a game. They may be something that a lot of people overlook or never really use, but if it’s a feature that you do enjoy or find useful, you’ll miss it if it’s removed.

Case in point: the Pressbook in NBA 2K. It’s a very small feature in the grand scheme of things, and it probably isn’t something that most of us would use after every single game we played. Nevertheless, it was a good idea, yet one that only appeared in a few NBA 2K releases. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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The Friday Five: 5 Pettiest Moments 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 lists some of the pettiest moments we’ve seen in basketball gaming.

Is it fair to say that some of the most talented and creative people are also among the pettiest? As someone who grew up reading Roald Dahl’s books, such as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Danny, Champion of the World, The Twits, and other classics, I’d have to say yes. Comparing the stories to Dahl’s autobiographical works, Boy and Going Solo, it’s obvious that he based many of his villains on people that he’d met and didn’t care for. In Danny, Champion of the World, he flat out named Danny’s abusive teacher after one of his own schoolmasters whom he loathed (I’d say quite rightfully).

With that in mind, it’s probably fair to say that spite is a driving influence in a lot of people’s creative process. The amount of recording artists who have released songs written about an ex – famous or otherwise – also stands as a good example here. As a creative medium in which there’s competition, video games likewise invite some petty potshots and snarky slams. With there once being a heated rivalry between NBA Live and NBA 2K, both EA Sports and Visual Concepts have been guilty of pettiness. On the other hand, pettiness has also resulted in some amusing Easter eggs and design choices. Without further ado, here are five of the pettiest moments in virtual hoops!

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Wayback Wednesday: Familiar Faces Back in Familiar Places (Part 2)

Wayback Wednesday: Familiar Faces Back in Familiar Places (Part 2)

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 more familiar faces who found themselves back in familiar places.

Just as there are have been several familiar faces that ended up in strange places, there are more familiar faces who made it back to familiar places than I can possibly fit into just one list of ten! To that end, I’m also making this spinoff topic an ongoing series for Wayback Wednesday. As I previously noted, these homecomings can be just as interesting as the strange stints of well-known players, as they can also end up flying under the radar and being forgotten due to being unremarkable returns. In other cases, it’s the original stint with a team that is overlooked.

Either way, they’re fun to look back on. We can obviously do that by going back and watching old games, but it’s also possible to revisit these tenures through the virtual hardwood. I’ve grown quite fond of referring to basketball video games as interactive almanacs and time capsules to the point where I’m probably overusing the expression. It is quite apt though, and with that in mind, I’m using video games to demonstrate these examples of familiar faces back in familiar places. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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The Friday Five: 5 Unexpected Jerseys Included in 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 jerseys that we didn’t expect to see included among the selection in basketball video games.

We’ve grown accustomed to a wide selection of alternate and retro jerseys to choose from in basketball video games. This wasn’t always the case, however. It wasn’t until NBA Live 2003 that EA Sports’ long-running series added both the ability to select jerseys in-game, and a single retro uniform for every team. Over the years, more and more jerseys were added, though they were briefly removed when the series made the jump to seventh generation. NBA 2K has also come to feature a wide selection of jerseys, with NBA 2K20 including just about every major jersey each team has worn.

However, not only have there been some noteworthy omissions over the years, we’ve also seen some unexpected uniforms make the cut. The context that makes a uniform an unexpected inclusion varies from example to example, but suffice to say, we’ve sometimes been left surprised upon scrolling through all of the options on the jersey selection screen. In some cases, rare and even fictional jerseys have found their way into the game, increasing our choices and letting us hold our own theme nights in the various franchise modes. Looking back, I would suggest that these five rank amongst the most unexpected jerseys to have been featured on the virtual hardwood.

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The Friday Five: 5 Times Games Received Surprising Updates

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 lists five times that basketball games received surprising updates.

These days, basketball games receive more updates than ever before. Official patches are more frequent and numerous. Content updates, from current rosters and new player faces, to MyPLAYER clothing and MyTEAM challenges and cards, are also pushed through all season long. At some point however, these updates will cease. Developers have to move on to next year’s title after all, and there’s only so much that can be addressed in patches. New content beyond the NBA Finals, and certainly for a game that’s over a year old, is quite rare.

It’s not unprecedented, however. There are extenuating circumstances, such as when the cancellation of NBA Elite 11 resulted in NBA Live 10 being updated for the 2011 season. On top of that, there are times when video games receive content that we simply wouldn’t expect because it doesn’t seem feasible due to technical or licensing limitations. It’s a nice surprise when a title does receive new content or a fix that seemed unlikely, though at the same time, it’s difficult not to approach some of these unexpected updates with a certain amount of cynicism. Nevertheless, here are five times that games received updates that were surprising for one reason or another.

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NLSC Podcast #336: I’m A Surgeon With This Pro Stick

NLSC Podcast Logo

Episode #336 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! Derek (aka Dee4Three) and I are your hosts for this week’s show.

Before we get to this week’s gaming news, we take a moment to reflect on the San Antonio Spurs’ 22-year Playoff streak coming to an end. On the subject of change, however, we have our first developer blog for NBA 2K21 Current Gen, previewing this year’s gameplay. We break down the changes to the Pro Stick, including the new dribbling and shooting controls, and other details provided by the blog. With a demo coming to PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on August 24th, we also speculate on what it will entail, and discuss the likelihood of a Next Gen demo later this year. We’ve also got some new retro basketball game purchases to talk about, and once again touch on the modding possibilities for NBA 2K21 PC.

What’s your take on this week’s conversation? 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. The show also comes out on our YouTube channel, so be sure to subscribe for future episodes and other video content.

Wayback Wednesday: Vince Carter Gets Booed in NBA Live 10

Wayback Wednesday: Vince Carter Gets Booed in NBA Live 10

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 way Vince Carter was booed in NBA Live 10.

In last week’s Friday Five, I mentioned that in NBA Live 10, Vince Carter would be booed by the virtual Toronto crowd whenever he played there as an opponent. As I needed a screenshot of Vince in NBA Live 10 for the article, I fired up the game and my Elgato capture device, and got to work. After deciding to go the extra step and record some footage of the phenomenon, I grew curious. Is that detail still a thing if he gets traded to another team? What happens if he’s back in Toronto? It seemed like a good idea for a video feature, so let’s take a look back…way back…

I hope that satisfied your curiosity as it did mine! I enjoy making the occasional video for Wayback Wednesday and other weekly features, as well as providing updates on my modding projects, so it was nice to whip up another one this week. Be sure to subscribe to the NLSC’s YouTube channel for more videos moving forward!

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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Wayback Wednesday: Familiar Faces in Strange Places (Part 3)

Wayback Wednesday: Familiar Faces in Strange Places (Part 3)

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 even more NBA players who became familiar faces in strange places, and those stints in video games.

It’s time to once again look back at the various stints of NBA players that we may have forgotten, or at least don’t think about too often. We expect to see role players bounce around the league, as teams seek out their services to bolster their rosters. Although it’s getting more and more common to see perennial All-Stars changing teams in their prime as well as late in their careers, it’s still often a surprise, and seeing them in their new uniform takes some time to get used to. Funnily enough, photos of them wearing their old jersey eventually seem like the stranger image!

As I’ve noted before, in addition to photos, footage, and records in resources such as Basketball Reference, we’ve got another way of documenting familiar faces in strange places: video games. Fire up an old video game, and you’re bound to see at least a few players on teams you don’t remember them playing for, including some big names who were in the midst of a less memorable stint than one that usually comes to mind. I’ve got another ten examples to share today, so let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: Can NBA Live Be Relevant Again?

Monday Tip-Off: Can NBA Live Be Relevant Again?

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 by pondering the question: can NBA Live be relevant again?

As a long-time basketball gamer that grew up with NBA Live, it gives me no joy to dump on the franchise. I believe that there are content creators out there who delight at the series’ struggles and subsequently ripping into it, but I’m certainly not one of them. For all the great things that NBA 2K has done, the slips in quality here and there, and of course the increased focus on microtransactions, demonstrate why it’s important to have choice and competition in the basketball gaming space. Some say NBA Live should just pack it in, but frankly, we need it, and we need it to succeed.

Unfortunately, that’s much easier said than done. NBA Live has struggled to get to where it needs to be over the past decade. Again, it brings me no joy to say that, nor do I relish pointing out that not only has its quality suffered, but so has its relevance. Indeed, a friend of mine who isn’t really into basketball, but picked up NBA 2K20 on special after watching The Last Dance, mentioned he was surprised that EA Sports doesn’t have a new basketball game out. It’s not surprising that someone who isn’t into the scene doesn’t know the full story behind the fall of NBA Live, but nevertheless, it speaks volumes about its relevance today. The question is: can EA change that?

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The Friday Five: 5 Times You Can Play Before The Main Menu

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 examples of times we could jump right into gameplay in basketball games, before we’ve even brought up the main menu.

Given all the modes and options that are available in basketball games, as well as the need to select teams before entering a game, a main menu has generally always come between the title screen and gameplay. That isn’t unique to the genre, of course. Most games can’t be played until you’ve reached the main menu and made some selections. Even most of the very early video games and classic platformers of the 8-bit era didn’t go immediately into gameplay. If nothing else, we were presented with basic options such as the number of players, or asked to press Start to get the ball rolling.

There are exceptions, of course. In a way, they’re the video game version of a cold opening for a TV show. It hasn’t been especially common in basketball video games, but there are titles that drop us right into gameplay before we ever see the main menu. Many of these instances only occur the first time we boot up a game (or if we reinstall it with no user data present), but a selection of games have allowed us to participate in some form of gameplay before the main menu is displayed. It’s not something that we usually consider vital to the experience, but they have been fun ideas that give us something to do, while showing off new tech and features. These include things like…

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Wayback Wednesday: Quick Strike Ballhandling

Wayback Wednesday: Quick Strike Ballhandling

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 Quick Strike Ballhandling, also known as Quick Strike Ankle Breakers.

I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to call right stick dribbling controls one of the biggest, best, and most important advancements in basketball gaming. Although we were able to perform crossovers, spins, and other dribbling moves before Freestyle Control made its debut in NBA Live 2003, we were at the mercy of a button press as far as the specific move that was performed. Not only were we in complete control with Freestyle, we could perform moves on command that would’ve been far harder to implement using the old approach of face buttons for random dribbling moves.

As the years passed, EA Sports expanded on their player control concepts with ideas such as Freestyle Superstars, eventually dubbing their control scheme Total Freestyle Control. In the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 version of NBA Live 08 however, the controls were revamped once again. Freestyle Superstars was replaced by Go-To Moves, shooting went back to two buttons (a jumpshot and a combined dunk/layup button), and the dribbling mechanics were now called Quick Strike Ballhandling. Although it was a familiar system, it was more than just a new name. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Wayback Wednesday: Familiar Faces in Strange Places (Part 2)

Wayback Wednesday: Familiar Faces in Strange Places (Part 2)

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 more NBA players who became familiar faces in strange places, and those stints in video games.

As I said in my first Wayback Wednesday article covering this topic, there’s definitely something oddly fascinating in seeing familiar faces in strange places. We often claim that we wish that those stints didn’t happen or that we could forget all about them, yet they’re burned into our memories. It’s hard to forget something that looks strange and out of place, and that certainly describes the image of players wearing the uniform of a team other than the one we associate them with the most. The time capsule-like nature of video games helps us to remember – and also replay – these unusual stints.

I mentioned that there were more examples than the ten I covered in my first article, and to that end, I have another ten to share today. This time, not all of the players were perennial All-Stars, but they are familiar names who ended up in strange places. In fact, a couple of these stints were so brief that the only way to experience them again on the virtual hardwood is to load very specific roster saves – assuming that you still have them, of course – or by recreating them. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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