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Wayback Wednesday: Basketball Trading Cards

Wayback Wednesday: Basketball Trading Cards

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 basketball trading cards.

As a young, newly-minted hardcore basketball fan in the mid 90s, I couldn’t get enough of the sport. I indulged this new love of hoops in a variety of ways. At school, I hit the blacktop with my friends as often as we could, with at least three or four of us bringing our own ball most days. I eagerly anticipated the Game of the Week and every episode of NBA Action, either staying up late or setting the VCR to record them. Obviously, I played basketball video games, especially NBA Live, NBA Jam, and World League Basketball. And yes, I collected basketball trading cards, too.

Trading cards, basketball or otherwise, are indeed still a thing. It’s actually cool to see, given that online resources and a move away from physical media in general easily could’ve rendered them an outdated concept. I haven’t actively collected cards in a long time, but in the early years of my basketball fandom, I enthusiastically bought packs whenever I could. There’s also a connection to basketball gaming here, as they were once handy sources of information when creating roster mods. They’re certainly nostalgic for many of us basketball fans, so let’s take a look back…way back…

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The Friday Five: 5 Teammates Who Were Once Traded For Each Other

The Friday Five: 5 Teammates Who Were Once Traded For Each Other

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 teammates who were once traded for each other, and the video games that feature those stints.

While it’s become far more common – and some would say, acceptable – for stars to change teams nowadays, it’s always been somewhat rare for players to spend their entire career with one club. Even if a player does stay put, they’ll end up playing with a host of different teammates throughout the years. Between the players that join the team they’re on and the teams that they may go on to join, old rivals will become teammates, former teammates will reunite, and superteams will form, giving us plenty of interesting lineups to talk about…and of course, play with in video games.

Needless to say, trades also break up duos and teammates who no doubt enjoyed playing with one another. We’ve even seen former college teammates get traded for each other during the Draft, as Vince Carter and Antawn Jamison were back in 1998. A trade where former teammates end up being swapped for one another gets you thinking, specifically whether the reverse has ever happened. In other words, have any players who were once traded for each other later become teammates? It has indeed happened, and since I explore such trivia through the lens of the virtual hardwood, here are five traded players turned teammates, and the games featuring those pairings.

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The Friday Five: 5 Brief Stints Captured in Games

The Friday Five: 5 Brief Stints Captured in Games

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 brief stints that somehow managed to be captured in basketball video games.

At this point, I’m sure that I sound like I’m on a constant loop whenever I refer to basketball video games as interactive almanacs. I can’t help it; it’s a fitting term that describes what it’s like to browse the rosters in an old release! Of course, games will vary as far as being an accurate resource. If nothing else, they can capture some very brief stints – and in some cases, phantom stints that didn’t result in any official on-court appearances – which may not be apparent if you don’t know your NBA history. To that point though, they’re still fascinating glimpses of the league at that time!

In older games, between revised releases, ports to different platforms, and publishers releasing games at various points during the season rather than everyone aiming for a pre-season launch, titles set in the same year – and even different versions of the same title – could easily feature inconsistent rosters. To me, that’s only made those games an even more entertaining window into the past, especially when they preserve some brief stints! Those can certainly occur in games that were released close to opening night, but games that were released later stood a better chance of capturing an even rarer stint that resulted from a midseason move. Here are five noteworthy examples.

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NLSC Podcast #532: How We Got Hooked On Basketball Games

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From courtside of the virtual hardwood, it’s Episode #532 of the NLSC Podcast!

Which basketball video games made you fall in love with the genre? This week, we join the community in reminiscing about the titles that got us hooked on the virtual hardwood, our go-to teams and players, and some of the special memories that we made with them. This includes sharing some stories about fake articles based on our seasons, and an unlikely comeback for a Boston Celtics legend during the 1995 campaign in NBA Live 95 PC! Speaking of the Celtics, we also share a few thoughts on the 2024 NBA Finals, which leads us to recall some of the underdog Boston teams from the mid-to-late 90s and early 2000s, and discuss notable moves and Draft picks the team made during their rebuilding attempts.

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!

The Friday Five: 5 Basic Features We Take For Granted

The Friday Five: 5 Basic Features We Take For Granted

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 basic features in basketball video games that we take for granted.

There are a number of basic features in a modern basketball game that have become firmly entrenched as essential, at least if you want the game to be good! The genre has come a long way, and even though I still have tremendous fondness for the early classics, I’m also aware of their shortcomings. Of course, many of the basic features that were once innovations did come along in the mid to late 90s, so we’ve had them for decades now. To that point though, it’s all too easy to take some of those basic features for granted, especially if you didn’t grow up with the more primitive titles.

“Primitive” is the operative word here. When video games as a whole were in their infancy, those first steps towards what we have now did feel like huge strides. On top of that, technical limitations meant that games couldn’t have the same level of depth and detail as they do now, or even a couple of generations ago. Nevertheless, it’s still interesting to look back at some early basketball video games – as I obviously enjoy doing for Wayback Wednesday – and note how some of the basic features that we now take for granted are nowhere to be found. This doesn’t mean that we can’t and shouldn’t criticise modern games, but it’s a reminder of the progress that’s been made.

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Wayback Wednesday: Alternate Venues in NBA Live

Wayback Wednesday: Alternate Venues in NBA Live

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 alternate venues that appeared in the Season modes of early NBA Live games.

Whenever I revisit old games, whether it’s to produce a Wayback Wednesday feature or just for my own enjoyment, it’s always a delight to discover – or recall – a detail that I didn’t expect to see. After all, it’s easy enough to forget how long certain features have been around, or the lengths that games went to for authenticity even before the deep modes we now have were feasible. They’re great examples of how those classic titles were the products of developers pushing technology to the limit, while trying to make the best possible basketball game for enthusiastic hoop heads.

As far as the early NBA Live games are concerned, those details demonstrate why EA Sports’ series became the brand leader in the genre, and that being an authentic sim was absolutely the goal. There are numerous examples of this, many of which I’ve discussed in previous retrospectives, but a cool one that flies under the radar is the use of alternate venues in the Season modes of early NBA Live games. It wasn’t necessary to reflect this aspect of the NBA season on the virtual hardwood – especially as it’s easy to miss – so it’s awesome that the games did. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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The Friday Five: 5 Single-Season Detroit Pistons

The Friday Five: 5 Single-Season Detroit Pistons

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 players who had single-season stints with the Detroit Pistons

So, this might seem like a weird topic for me to cover in The Friday Five! The Detroit Pistons are hardly the only NBA team whose all-time roster includes a number of players who only stuck around for a year. I’m also generally not inclined to focus my content on the Pistons; indeed, as a Chicago Bulls fan, it would be rather unusual for me to celebrate the team from the Motor City! However, I do love basketball and basketball gaming trivia, and it’s fun when real hoops reminds me of something from a video game, or revisiting an old title brings to mind some tidbit about the NBA.

While writing about my Minnesota Timberwolves Franchise in NBA Live 2003 for Wayback Wednesday, I noted that Joe Smith was on the roster, also mentioning his brief time with the Pistons. In the weird way that a mind that enjoys trivia works, I began trying to recall other players who only spent a single season of their career with Detroit, resulting in an often overlooked stint. Some of these players are bigger names than others, but they all have one thing in common, that being multi-year careers in the NBA with only one in Detroit. With apologies to fans of Korleone Young, that disqualifies him from this particular list, but here are five other single-season Pistons!

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NLSC Podcast #528: Best Three-Point Shooters in Video Game History

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From courtside of the virtual hardwood, it’s Episode #528 of the NLSC Podcast!

A recent interview with EA’s CEO Andrew Wilson bleakly hints at a future where games are riddled with intrusive ads. We’ve already seen attempts at this before, but as you can imagine, we’re not thrilled at the possibility of it becoming commonplace! However, most of this week’s show is dedicated to the deadeyes from downtown on the virtual hardwood, as we join the community in reminiscing about the best three-point shooters in the history of basketball video games. We also recall the players that we preferred to overwrite when customising the rosters in classic titles, whether we were making current roster updates or putting ourselves and our friends into the NBA.

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!

Wayback Wednesday: Failed Franchise & Season Games

Wayback Wednesday: Failed Franchise & Season Games

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 some of my failed franchise and season mode games, and reflecting on whether they’re actually failures.

Over the years in Wayback Wednesday, I’ve reminisced about several of my most memorable franchise, season, and career mode games. While they all represent fun times on the virtual hardwood for me, they haven’t been equally successfully as far as completion is concerned. Games where I’ve played through an entire season on twelve minute quarters stand out as the times I’ve really been hooked on the experience, but they’re arguably the exception rather than the rule. There are far more titles that I’ve never finished a single season in, than ones where I’ve had multi-year games.

Of course, as I’ve noted before, completion is what you make it when it comes to the annual sim titles. Unless you stick with a single game for more than a year, it’s tough to get the full multi-year experience in franchise and career modes; especially when you opt for full length seasons on twelve minute quarters without simulating! Even in the games where I didn’t finish the season, I still had a ton of fun. With that being said, there are also franchise and season mode games that I abandoned very quickly. To that end, this week I’m reflecting on some “failed” games, and pondering the concept of “failure” in that context. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Wayback Wednesday: Revisiting the NBA Live 96 PC Rosters

Wayback Wednesday: Revisiting the NBA Live 96 PC Rosters

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 revisiting the rosters in NBA Live 96 PC.

Have I mentioned that old basketball video games can be interactive almanacs? I believe I have, once or twice! It’s one of the things that I enjoy the most about retro basketball gaming, on top of the nostalgic throwback gameplay of course. As I’ve noted on several occasions, sim titles capture a snapshot of the league at the time they were released. This includes interesting trivia such as phantom stints, familiar faces in unfamiliar places, and familiar faces back in familiar places, to name just some of the examples that I enjoy keeping my eye out for.

I’ve previously revisited the rosters in NBA Live 2002, NBA Live 95 (both PC and Super Nintendo), and NBA Live 99 PC (with the official update). Those were fun trips down memory lane, but I’m even more excited to revisit the rosters in NBA Live 96 PC. It’s one of my all-time favourite basketball games, and while I sunk countless hours into it playing with my 1998 season roster, I also spent a considerable amount of time with the default lineups. It’s also helped me out with modding, and even in answering trivia all these years later! Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Wayback Wednesday: Basketball Game Manuals

Wayback Wednesday: Basketball Game Manuals

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 basketball video game manuals.

It’s getting harder to reminisce about physical media without sounding incredibly out of touch, and far older than I am. However, as consumers battle corporate giants over digital ownership and bemoan the disappearance of content from streaming services, I believe that more and more people are beginning to understand why many of us have been clinging to physical media for as long as we can. It’s not simply a case of wistful nostalgia, or a refusal or inability to get with the times. While digital media has the advantage of convenience, physical media offers posterity, and tangible ownership.

But yes, there’s also undeniable nostalgia with physical media, particularly video games. There was something special about going to the video store, browsing the shelves for a game to rent, and choosing one that would be yours to play…at least temporarily! Needless to say, it was even better when you bought a game. Not only was there no time limit to the fun, but you also had the box or case to admire. And inside the box or case, depending on the game, there were manuals, maps, charts, and so on. We’d enthusiastically pore over these materials well before we even dove into gameplay, including hitting the virtual hardwood. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Wayback Wednesday: Timberwolves Franchise in NBA Live 2003

Wayback Wednesday: Timberwolves Franchise in NBA Live 2003

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 my Franchise game with the Minnesota Timberwolves in NBA Live 2003.

I’ve had a number of memorable franchise and career mode games over the years. My Dynasty games with the Chicago Bulls in NBA Live 2004 and NBA Live 06 are among my all-time favourite basketball gaming experiences. Likewise, I had a blast with MyCAREER in NBA 2K13, NBA 2K17, and NBA 2K19, and I’m still playing through the mode in NBA 2K14 for PlayStation 4. At the same time, I’ve had some games where I haven’t achieved completion or closure, such as my 1998 season in NBA Live 96 PC, and my Sacramento Kings Franchise in NBA Live 2002.

My Franchise with the Minnesota Timberwolves in NBA Live 2003 PC is another example of a “failed” game. Of course, labelling such games as “failures” probably isn’t the right way of looking at things. I’d actually like to delve into that topic in more depth sometime, but my Timberwolves Franchise does stand as an example of how completion is what we make it. Or, to put it another way, as long as it was fun while it lasted, it’s ultimately neither a failure nor wasted time. That Franchise was certainly memorable for me even if it wasn’t successful, so let’s take a look back…way back…

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The Friday Five: 5 Limitations With A Sensible Explanation

The Friday Five: 5 Limitations With A Sensible Explanation

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 limitations in basketball video games that actually have a sensible explanation.

It’s always frustrating when we encounter limitations in basketball video games that stand in the way of having fun with them. It’s even more frustrating when those limitations aren’t present in other games – in some cases, in the very same series – which suggests that it doesn’t necessarily have to be that way. However, that doesn’t mean that there weren’t technical roadblocks when a particular game was released, or a reason for a particular feature or function being designed a certain way. Quite often, there’s a sensible and reasonable explanation for these limitations.

Of course, that doesn’t necessarily make it less frustrating, especially if we don’t learn the reason until much later. Furthermore, in the early days of basketball video games, we couldn’t be blamed for dreaming big as far as the things we wanted to see, and video game developers have clearly had similar visions. To that end, some limitations have been overcome as technology has improved, and programmers have found a way to make ambitious ideas work. Even so, it’s important to acknowledge that there are sensible explanations as to why those limitations were once in place, or why a mode or feature is still restrictive by design. Here are five that we’ve often grumbled about!

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NLSC Podcast #520: Best Generation of NBA Live & NBA 2K

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From courtside of the virtual hardwood, it’s Episode #520 of the NLSC Podcast!

Which generation produced the best NBA Live and NBA 2K games? This week, we join the community in nominating the golden age for each series. We also recap our exciting co-op Parsec sessions with NBA Live 2000 PC and NBA 2K2 for GameCube, which in turn leads us to reflect on the 2000 Phoenix Suns and the fantastic NBA of the 80s. Additionally, we check in with Troydan’s ongoing quest to pull 100 Overall MyTEAM cards, discuss the drawbacks of digital ownership and the need for physical media, and note an unfortunate side effect of declining the new Terms of Service in NBA 2K24.

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!

Wayback Wednesday: The Evolution of Roster Mods

Wayback Wednesday: The Evolution of Roster Mods

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 evolution of roster mods in our community.

As technological improvements have led to the development of bigger and better basketball video games, our expectations have changed. What were once cutting-edge graphics are no longer impressive. What was once a deep and engaging mode now seems shallow compared to what’s available in a newer game…usually! This isn’t to say that old games are bad and not worth playing. I wouldn’t be diving into basketball gaming history, or advocating for retro gaming, if I didn’t see value in older titles! Still, we always want to see the genre make advancements, so the bar does get raised.

The same goes for modding over the years. While we made some fantastic roster mods for the early NBA Live games on PC, there were limitations to what we could change and include. As it became easier to modify textures and models in addition to player and team data, there was an expectation that roster mods would become more comprehensive. This led to a golden age of NBA Live modding that has since been continued with the NBA 2K series, but in some ways, it’s also been detrimental to the hobby. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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