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 takes a look at five of the best NBA CAPs I’ve seen in NBA 2K20’s Neighborhood.
Since the introduction of Park, 2K Pro-Am, and ultimately The Neighborhood, it’s been interesting to see what kind of players people create. I don’t mean their build or Archetype, though that’s obviously an interesting discussion as well. I’m talking about the appearance gamers choose for their MyPLAYERs. Whether it’s through the face scanning capabilities or expanded face creation tools, we’re invited to insert ourselves into the game. While a number of gamers do indeed choose to do this, it seems that many prefer to create an original avatar, or in some cases, run with an NBA lookalike.
I would suggest that most gamers choose custom faces and NBA CAPs for the same reason that I gave up on face scans: the functionality is cumbersome, buggy, and takes too long to inform you that a scan has failed. Even when a scan has been successful according to the app, the game will often inform you that there’s a problem, with the condescending error message “try again and play close attention to the instructions”; instructions, mind you, that along with any troubleshooting info, do not exist. It’s no wonder people prefer to role play as a goofy avatar, or as an NBA player. Some of the NBA CAPs are quite good, with these five ranking among the best I’ve seen so far.
1. Michael Jordan
Let’s begin with one of the most recent NBA CAPs I’ve seen while in NBA 2K20’s Neighborhood. Upon exiting the Daily Spin building, I found myself standing next to His Airness; or at least, a respectable approximation. I made a joking Tweet about it, treating it like it was a celebrity encounter and playing off of the way my player is just lingering awkwardly in the background as I took the screenshot. While it isn’t a spot-on likeness, I was still impressed. It’s a better-looking MJ in profile than it is head on, but even then, you can tell who it’s supposed to be. It’s an admirable effort using the in-game face creation tools, which is the only option on console apart from scanning.
Of course, it’s also made easier by the fact that this MyPLAYER is running around The Neighborhood fully kitted out in Michael Jordan’s late 90s Chicago Bulls home uniform. Much like the gentleman who outfitted himself in MJ’s garb to play some pickup basketball in real life, I admire the commitment to the bit. In fact, I’d go so far as to suggest that gamers who wear complete uniforms in The Playground and use NBA CAPs for their faces are borrowing his gimmick! The tattoos are obviously out of place, and the Black Lives Matter sleeves – while an important message – don’t quite match MJ’s on-court accessories. Still, it’s a good attempt at being like Mike.
2. Kobe Bryant
I’ve seen a handful of in-game tributes to the late Kobe Bryant following his tragic passing back in January. Whether it was MyPLAYERs donning his jersey, or holding the ball to commit eight seconds in the half and twenty-four second shot clock violations in The Rec – much as real NBA teams had done – gamers have found ways to express their grief and celebrate an NBA Legend taken from us too soon. His popularity and success have naturally inspired people to make Kobe Bryant builds, even before the tragic accident. Some gamers have elected to take it a step further, sculpting their custom faces to physically resemble the Black Mamba himself.
Back in mid-February, after completing my Daily Spin, I noticed a tribute to Kobe standing next to the Daily Pick ‘Em machine. As with the Michael Jordan CAP, he was dressed in a full NBA uniform, albeit a Nike version that Kobe never actually wore (though coincidentally, it shares that distinction with the cover art of the Current Gen version of NBA 2K21’s Mamba Forever Edition). The player is also wearing a gold sleeve on his right arm, and his face…well, it’s not exactly the best likeness, but it’s a decent effort and along with the outfit, you can tell that it’s meant to be Kobe Bryant. I expect there are a few Kobes hooping in The Neighborhoods these days.
3. LeBron James
Alright, this one might be a stretch, but when I saw this MyPLAYER standing around in the Daily Spin room, it immediately stood out to me as a LeBron James CAP. The hair, the headshape, and the beard, not to mention the bulky frame and tattoos, all seem to be inspired by LeBron’s image. The mix-and-match retro Penny Hardaway uniform doesn’t really serve as a clue here, though paying homage to players from the 90s is kind of a LeBron thing as well. Just because someone has modelled their face after LeBron, and possibly their build too judging by the size of the player, it doesn’t mean they won’t don some other gear when they’re taking part in Playground games.
If it isn’t supposed to be LeBron James, then the gamer that created this MyPLAYER, either through serendipity or maybe subliminal inspiration, ended up with an avatar that looks a lot like him. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was intentional, though. A lot of MyCAREER gamers have sought to create LeBron builds, and as I alluded to, it’s common to pair builds that attempt to replicate star players with a face that resembles them. Real uniforms add that extra touch in The Playground, but then many gamers do change up their outfit from time to time. This is still a much better look than your average Playground gamer, and if you’ve played Playground, you know what I mean.
4. Kevin Durant
This is another one that I’m not completely sure about, as I encountered this player in The Rec rather than The Neighborhood. As such, I haven’t seen whether they were outfitted in a full Kevin Durant Nets uniform, or a Warriors or Thunder throwback. The face is a pretty good likeness though, not to mention they’re wearing number thirty-five; a number that Durant has discarded in favour of wearing number seven when he finally debuts for Brooklyn, but one that he’s definitely synonymous with all the same. The tattoos aren’t accurate, and Durant is skinnier and lankier, but there’s more than a fleeting resemblance in that face (at least to my eye; you may disagree).
As with the aforementioned LeBron James lookalike, it’s possible that someone has randomly created a face that bears a resemblance to Kevin Durant, perhaps because they’re a fan and he’s the subconscious template. The Pure Slasher build doesn’t suggest that they’re trying out a Kevin Durant build, as an accurate approximation of his play style would be represented by a more all-around scoring build. It might be their second build though, as this late in the year a lot of people have had the time to grind up more than one MyPLAYER. In any case, intentional or accidental, someone has ended up with a respectable imitation Kevin Durant in NBA 2K20’s MyCAREER.
5. Shaquille O’Neal
Simply put, this is one of the absolute best NBA CAPs I’ve ever seen in the connected modes of MyCAREER, and a fitting one to end on. It’s so good in fact that it made me wonder if someone had found a way to hack the PlayStation 4 version to assign a face file to a MyPLAYER. As far as I know, no one’s found a way of doing so, and anyone who has probably risks getting a ban anyway. That means that the gamer behind this MyPLAYER has taken the time and care to create an accurate Shaq CAP from later on his career, from the shape of his bald head to all of the individual facial features. He’s even got a tattoo on his right arm, though Shaq does have more ink than that.
It’s a testament to what can be accomplished with the face creation features that were added in NBA 2K18. Honestly, it’s better than a couple of cyberfaces we’ve seen over the years, and a really impressive effort all around. The tattoos aren’t spot on, but you get the idea. In fact, the only real problem I have with it is that the player is wearing number twenty, rather than any of Shaq’s actual uniform numbers. It’s possible that it’s the result of the Big Diesel’s most famous numbers being retired by the NBA team the player landed on in MyCAREER, or it might be a secondary player (especially as he wasn’t a centre). Still, don’t let that take anything away from an extraordinary CAP.
How do you rate these NBA CAPs? Have you seen any good NBA faces in your Neighborhood? Do you prefer to scan your face or create one that resembles you, or have you opted for either an NBA player or completely fictional mug? Have your say in the comments below, and as always, feel free to take the discussion to the NLSC Forum! That’s all for this week, so thanks for checking in, have a great weekend, and please join me again next Friday for another Five.