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NLSC Podcast #315: Old Games & Old Habits

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Episode #315 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! Join Dee4Three and myself as we talk about our basketball gaming habits and preferences, and how the games we grew up playing in the 90s and early 2000s ended up shaping those tastes.

With the NBA shut down for the foreseeable future, it’s a great time to not only catch up on gaming, but also classic NBA games. We discuss some of the ways the NBA could improve League Pass and the official YouTube channel, including some comparisons to the WWE Network. Speaking of history, the 25th Anniversary of Michael Jordan’s first comeback is making us feel old, but it’s a good excuse to play the Double Nickel game in NBA 2K11’s Jordan Challenge. On that note, our main discussion topic this week is our basketball gaming preferences past and present, with reflections on the titles from the 90s and early 2000s that influenced our tastes and habits. From our preferred quarter and season length to how often we sim and how much realism we like, those old games established how we approach the virtual hardwood. We also touch on some of the quirks of those old games.

Tune in below!

What are your basketball gaming preferences? Which games shaped them, and have they changed over the years? 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.

Wayback Wednesday: 25 Years Since Michael Jordan Said “I’m Back”

Wayback Wednesday: 25 Years Since Michael Jordan Said "I'm Back"

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 marking the 25th Anniversary of the day Michael Jordan said “I’m Back”, and returned to the Chicago Bulls.

It’s funny how you don’t always feel the passage of time until you think about how long ago a certain event was. I felt it in 2008, when it had been ten years since the Chicago Bulls’ last championship. I felt it in 2011, when the Bulls celebrated the 20th Anniversary of their first title. It recently occurred to me that I’m now the same age that Michael Jordan was when he won that sixth ring in 1998. And yes, it strikes me that a whole decade has passed and hundreds of players have come and gone, as I continue to work on a current roster for NBA 2K11.

Today marks another milestone. It’s been twenty five years – or a quarter of a century, if you want to make it sound even more impressive – since Michael Jordan ended his first retirement from the NBA. MJ famously announced his return in two words: “I’m Back”. His return would ultimately expand his resume and bolster his claim to being the Greatest of All-Time, producing many more memorable moments along the way. It also had a noteworthy impact on the virtual hardwood. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Wayback Wednesday: NBA 2K13, Executive Produced by Jay-Z

Wayback Wednesday: NBA 2K13, Executive Produced by Jay-Z

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 role Jay-Z played as an executive producer on NBA 2K13.

Back in December, I wrote an article about Jay-Z’s forgotten cameo in NBA Live 07. I received some nice compliments from people who enjoyed learning about that for the first time, as well as some suggestions to look back at Jay-Z’s involvement as an executive producer on NBA 2K13. That topic was actually already on my list of ideas for Wayback Wednesday features, but since it’s been requested, I figure there’s no point delaying it any further. After all, it’s even better if I can cover these topics when there’s interest, and to that end, I’m open to suggestions!

For now though, let’s focus on Jay-Z and his role with NBA 2K13. Obviously, the rapper wasn’t actually spending hours coding at Visual Concepts’ studio in Novato, but as it turned out, he had a significant impact on the game. His title also briefly inspired a trend in our modding community. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Wayback Wednesday: Jordan Challenge vs NBA’s Greatest

Wayback Wednesday: Jordan Challenge vs NBA's Greatest

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 comparing The Jordan Challenge in NBA 2K11 to NBA’s Greatest in NBA 2K12.

I like to mix things up here in Wayback Wednesday. From retrospective reviews and profiles of modes and features, to interesting trivia and media from yesteryear, it’s my goal to cover a broad range of throwback content. Something that I haven’t done yet is to directly compare a couple of retro games, modes, or features, and conclude which one is superior. That changes today with what will hopefully be the first of many “Versus” articles for Wayback Wednesday, as I’m comparing The Jordan Challenge to NBA’s Greatest.

I’ve covered both The Jordan Challenge and NBA’s Greatest in several articles for Wayback Wednesday, but the question remains: which is the superior mode? Both modes took NBA 2K’s retro content to a new level, providing some fun challenges and establishing a precedent for all future releases as far as including a variety of historical teams. Let’s compare these two great modes across some key criteria as we take a look back…way back…

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Wayback Wednesday: Unused Retro Files in NBA 2K11

Wayback Wednesday: Unused Retro Files in NBA 2K11

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 unused retro files in NBA 2K11.

For as long as we’ve been tinkering with basketball video games and poking around in their files, we’ve been discovering unused assets and leftover data from cut content. It’s always fun to discover such content, speculate on what might have been, and in some cases put those assets to use in mods. Examples include custom coach faces in NBA Live 2004, which would appear to be remnants of a scrapped custom team feature, and the leftover retro team player data in the PC version of NBA Live 08, which hints at the original plans for the game’s bonus content.

The latter example is particularly interesting because of the history of retro content in basketball video games. NBA Live and NBA 2K had both featured Legends and All-Decade teams in some capacity, but it wasn’t until NBA 2K11 that we saw full retro teams as part of The Jordan Challenge. However, digging through the game’s files reveals that even more content may have been planned. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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The Friday Five: 5 False Memories 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 is a list of five examples of false memories we have of basketball games, and how they came about.

False memories are recollections of something that didn’t actually happen or exist, or of something happening in a way that differs greatly from reality. There are plenty of examples such as misquoted lines from TV, film, music, and literature, not to mention recollections of completely non-existent works. False memories can also involve commonly held, yet erroneous beliefs. The latter phenomenon has been labelled the “Mandela Effect”, after the belief that Nelson Mandela had actually passed away in the 1980s. The spelling of the Berenstain Bears is another famous example.

Needless to say, video games provide us with plenty of examples of false memories and the Mandela Effect. This is usually due to rumours and urban legends that are perpetuated despite being debunked time and time again, or simply an incorrect recollection of a game you haven’t played in a long time. Other times, the memory may be accurate in that it’s something that was experienced, but inaccurate in that it was the result of a mod, or something seen in an early preview. As is often the case, basketball gaming provides us with its own examples of false memories, and today I’m taking a look at five of them, along with some possible explanations.

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Wayback Wednesday: Retro Team Additions in NBA 2K16

Wayback Wednesday: Retro Team Additions in NBA 2K16

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 additions to the roster of retro teams that were made in NBA 2K16.

After The Jordan Challenge and NBA’s Greatest established retro teams as a staple of NBA 2K’s content, a few years went by before we saw any new additions. A handful of players disappeared from and later reappeared in the rosters as 2K lost and regained the rights to their likenesses, but the selection of historical squads remained the same, outside of the 1992 Dream Team appearing in NBA 2K13. Without a dedicated mode, it seemed as though we weren’t going to see any new additions to the roster of retro NBA teams anytime soon.

Fortunately, we were proven wrong. As the preview season for NBA 2K16 loomed, an episode of NBA 2KTV revealed three of the twelve new retro teams that would be featured in the game. Not only was it a promising sign that retro content wouldn’t be abandoned moving forward, but the choice of teams set a precedent that allowed it to expand beyond the scope of the squads added for The Jordan Challenge and NBA’s Greatest. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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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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Wayback Wednesday: Reimagining NBA’s Greatest

Wayback Wednesday: Reimagining NBA's Greatest

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 reimagining NBA’s Greatest in NBA 2K12.

I had a lot of fun reimagining The Jordan Challenge back in June, so I thought I’d give the same treatment to NBA’s Greatest. As I remarked in my retrospective on NBA’s Greatest, it was a fantastic follow-up to The Jordan Challenge, and added new content to NBA 2K12 with the lockout of 2011 delaying the inclusion of the new rookies and updated rosters. The level of detail with the retro presentation was very impressive, and it’s a feature that would be really fun to have when playing with historical teams in future NBA 2K games.

However, as with The Jordan Challenge, NBA’s Greatest wasn’t perfect. Looking back, there are a few ways it could’ve been better, and teams that would’ve been preferable. As with my previous reimagining, this isn’t intended to disparage the work that Visual Concepts put into NBA’s Greatest, but rather consider what might have been if not for a few legal barriers, and how an already fantastic mode could be made even better. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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The Friday Five: 5 Basketball Gaming Theories

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 suggests five basketball gaming theories that are as yet unproven, but I believe are certainly plausible.

Video games are full of mysteries, usually thanks to cut or unfinished content, or some other aspect that is left unexplained. Sports games generally don’t hold quite as many of these secrets or causes for speculation compared to other genres, but they do still have their points of interest. Over the years, basketball games have contained traces of planned features, or other signs of interesting development back stories that have been left untold. It’s led to a lot of speculation and guessing in our community, but hey, they’re just theories; basketball gaming theories!

Ham-fisted references to a popular YouTube channel aside, I’ve been thinking about a few unusual occurrences and unexplained content in a handful of basketball games. I wanted to offer up some explanations, and since I can’t definitively prove them, I was originally going to title this article “5 Wild Basketball Gaming Theories”. However, I decided to drop the “wild”; not only because it was a bit clickbait-y, but also because I believe at least a couple of these theories are quite plausible. It would be nice to get definitive answers about these matters one day, but for now, here are five basketball gaming theories for your consideration.

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Monday Tip-Off: Why We Won’t Get Another Retro Mode

Michael Jordan in NBA 2K11

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 why it’s unlikely that we’ll get another retro mode in future NBA 2K titles.

While I don’t want to downplay the quality of NBA 2K11, I believe one of the reasons it’s still held in such high regard is that it was a landmark release for the series. Not only was it the first NBA 2K game to top five million copies sold – a feat helped in part by the cancellation of NBA Elite 11 – but it brought us actual retro teams out of the box for the first time. The NBA Live series experienced a similar phenomenon with NBA Live 2000. It introduced Legends, and was similarly noted as still being the best game in the series when later releases had clearly improved on it in many ways.

No matter where you rank NBA Live 2000 and NBA 2K11 in their respective series or among basketball games overall, both were tremendous releases that delivered big surprises in terms of their retro content. The Jordan Challenge was a great mode that would’ve been a tremendous hook even if NBA 2K11 hadn’t been unopposed. NBA’s Greatest in NBA 2K12 was a great follow-up, and the roster of retro teams has only expanded since then. Outside of Historical Domination in MyTEAM however, we haven’t had a challenge mode that makes use of the retro teams since then. Sadly, it seems highly unlikely that we’ll get another retro mode anytime soon, if ever again.

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Wayback Wednesday: Reimagining The Jordan Challenge

Reimagining The Jordan Challenge in NBA 2K11

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 reimagining The Jordan Challenge in NBA 2K11.

The Jordan Challenge was a significant milestone in basketball gaming. In celebrating the career of Michael Jordan, it achieved what once seemed impossible: adding actual retro teams, rather than just a collection of Legends on Decade All-Star squads. Retro teams would be established as the norm, and the mode also paved the way for NBA’s Greatest the following year in NBA 2K12. The Jordan Challenge is a mode that I’ve profiled in a Wayback Wednesday feature, as well as gone back and finished. It’s a lot of fun, and a great achievement in one of the best NBA 2K titles.

With that being said, The Jordan Challenge isn’t perfect. As I’ve previously noted, the ten challenges do lack variety. Three of them are set in the 1990 season, recycling the 1990 Chicago Bulls and taking up spots that could’ve gone to other memorable games from MJ’s career. It doesn’t ruin the mode, but looking back, the inability to license certain players did limit it somewhat. With that in mind, I’m doing something a little different for this week’s Wayback Wednesday, and reimagining The Jordan Challenge with some additional and alternative games. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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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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Wayback Wednesday: The Lost Retro Teams

Bulls vs Blazers in NBA 2K11

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 retro teams that we’ve lost in NBA 2K.

It’s easy to take the retro teams in NBA 2K for granted. They’ve been a staple of the games since the introduction of The Jordan Challenge back in NBA 2K11, to the point where a lot of gamers no longer consider them bonus content; they’re something we expect to see in the games. There was a time, however, when it didn’t seem likely due to the hurdle of likeness rights. Indeed, a few years before 2K made it a reality, EA Sports made some preliminary steps towards including retro teams in NBA Live 08, ultimately scrapping the idea when they couldn’t license all of the players.

While it does seem like the concept of retro teams is here to stay – and there are plenty of ideas for new ones that could be added – not all of the previously included squads remain in NBA 2K. Over the years, a total of ten retro teams have been cut after being included in at least one game, though four of them would be replaced by a squad from around the same era. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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NLSC Podcast #285: A Decade of Dominance for NBA 2K

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Episode #285 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! This week, Arcane and I are discussing how NBA 2K has now enjoyed a decade of dominance in the basketball gaming genre.

Since overtaking NBA Live in sales beginning with the 2009 season releases, NBA 2K has secured its place as the dominant brand in basketball gaming for over a decade. We reflect on how NBA 2K’s journey has differed from that of NBA Live, and the way that journey has accounted for its continued quality, popularity, and financial success. At the same time, while NBA 2K’s success has ultimately been great for basketball gaming, there have been downsides to its dominance. We discuss where the game is headed, and name our favourite NBA 2K titles from the past decade.

Tune in below!

What are your thoughts on NBA 2K’s Decade of Dominance? 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.