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25th Anniversary of NBA Live: NBA Live 96 Retrospective

25th Anniversary of NBA Live: NBA Live 96 Retrospective

To mark the 25th Anniversary of NBA Live, we’re taking a look back at every game in the series with retrospectives and other fun content! This also includes re-running some features from our 20th Anniversary celebrations, with a few revisions. Whether you’re a long-time basketball gamer who grew up with NBA Live and are keen on taking a trip down memory lane, or you’re new to the series and want to learn about its history, we hope that you enjoy celebrating the 25th Anniversary of NBA Live here at the NLSC! Today, it’s a retrospective of NBA Live 96.

While NBA Live 95 tipped everything off, it could be said that the release of NBA Live 96 is what established NBA Live as a series. The NBA Playoffs series had seen annual releases and the reuse of the NBA Playoffs branding in its early titles, but they also stood apart with distinct names: Lakers vs Celtics, Bulls vs Lakers, and Bulls vs Blazers. NBA Live 96 ensured that NBA Live 95 wouldn’t be a once-off branding in the lineage, as NBA Live 95 itself was originally intended to do for NBA Showdown. The question is, was NBA Live 96 a worthy successor to an undisputed classic? Did it deserve its back of the box tagline of “Back-to-Back Champion”?

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25th Anniversary of NBA Live: NBA Live 95 Retrospective

NBA Live 95 Retrospective (25th Anniversary of NBA Live)

To mark the 25th Anniversary of NBA Live, we’re taking a look back at every game in the series with retrospectives and other fun content! This also includes re-running some features from our 20th Anniversary celebrations, with a few revisions. Whether you’re a long-time basketball gamer who grew up with NBA Live and are keen on taking a trip down memory lane, or you’re new to the series and want to learn about its history, we hope that you enjoy celebrating the 25th Anniversary of NBA Live here at the NLSC! First up, it’s a retrospective of NBA Live 95.

As I’ve mentioned on many occasions, NBA Live 95 is a title that’s often remembered fondly by long-time basketball gamers. Beyond its significance as the first game in the NBA Live series, it’s also generally considered to be a classic for the way it advanced the genre. Even after 25 years, it holds up remarkably well considering how far basketball video games have come. I always feel nostalgic when I dust off NBA Live 95, but I also find that I’m impressed by the quality and how much fun it can still be, given its age. Let’s look back 25 years to where it all began.

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Wayback Wednesday: Aussies in Basketball Games

Wayback Wednesdays: Aussies 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 the history of Aussies in basketball games.

If you listen to the NLSC Podcast or pay close attention to the way I spell certain words, you’ll know that I’m an Aussie. Being a basketball fan in Australia hasn’t always been easy, even with the NBA’s explosion in popularity in the 90s, as well as the heyday of our own local league, the NBL. Sadly, the sport hasn’t always had the most favourable reputation with many of my fellow Aussies. While those of us who love hoops do so passionately, it’s always battled cricket, tennis, and at least three different codes of football (rugby, Australian Rules, and soccer) for popularity.

I’ve always felt that our struggles on the world stage have contributed to the game’s up-and-down popularity down under. The Boomers are yet to win an Olympic medal, but just this past week, they scored a huge win over the USA in the second exhibition game played in Melbourne; the first time they’ve ever defeated the US. It helps that we have a few more Aussies in the NBA these days, which also means that we see them on the virtual hardwood. In honour of the Boomers’ big win, I’m reflecting on the history of Aussies in basketball games. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Wayback Wednesday: MJ on the Japanese NBA Live 2002 Cover

Japanese NBA Live 2002 Cover

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 Japanese version of NBA Live 2002, which featured Michael Jordan in a Wizards jersey on the cover.

I like to think I’m fairly knowledgeable when it comes to the history of basketball video games, but from time to time, I learn something new about one of my favourite hobbies. Back in the 90s, I had no idea that one of my favourite hoops games on the Super Nintendo, World League Basketball, was released as an NCAA game in North America. I knew about NBA Action ’98, the precursor to the NBA 2K series, but I didn’t know that the PlayStation version was titled NBA Fastbreak ’98. And I certainly didn’t know that Michael Jordan was on the Japanese cover of NBA Live 2002!

Based on the responses to a Tweet I made, it seems I’m not alone on that last point. It wasn’t until I happened across Japanese copies of NBA Live 2002 on eBay several years later that I became aware of it, as it was never referenced in any other region. It’s an interesting collectable for many reasons, from the rarity of seeing His Airness in early video games or on video game covers, to him being featured in a Wizards jersey. I was delighted to add it to my collection, knowing that it would also make for a fun Wayback Wednesday topic. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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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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Wayback Wednesday: Shaquille O’Neal & NBA Live

Shaquille O'Neal in NBA Live 09

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 Shaquille O’Neal’s history with NBA Live.

Before the 2019 NBA Finals tipped off, it was noted that the series marked the 35th year in a row that the league’s championship round featured a player who was at one time a teammate of Shaquille O’Neal. It’s not the first time that Shaq’s connections to a Finals participant has come up, but with LeBron James’ offseason move to the Los Angeles Lakers after eight consecutive Finals appearances with the Miami Heat and Cleveland Cavaliers, there was speculation that the streak may finally come to an end. Thanks to Danny Green and the champion Toronto Raptors, it remains intact.

With a nineteen year career that began in 1992 and ended in 2011, and saw six stops along the way, the streak is arguably less surprising than it seems. Given the number of journeyman he played with, and his own nomadic nature later on in his career, it’s no surprise that there are connections stretching out in both directions. On the virtual hardwood, Shaquille O’Neal has a similar streak of longevity, particularly when it comes to the NBA Live series. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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