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 crazy roster mod ideas.
Even though I haven’t been as active in the modding scene over the past few years, it’s difficult to resist the lure. Modding is a creative hobby, and it’s very satisfying to see a project come together, especially when it’s a big roster mod. I’m still working on a 2020 season roster update for NBA 2K11 PC, and should have a status update out soon via new episode of “Making a Mod“. Although it’s a big project that has taken more time than I’d like, it’s been great to get back into updating rosters, especially for a game that I haven’t done anything with before.
While I’m focused on getting that project done, I can’t help thinking of other fun, and often crazy ideas for roster mods. Comprehensive roster updates that enhance the sim experience are great and something I’ve always taken pride in, but there’s room for a lot of creativity with custom rosters. There’s a lot of appeal in creating and playing with classic teams, champions, legends, and other such rosters, but we can be more even more imaginative than that. Although my focus is on completing my current roster project for NBA 2K11, I may take a shot these crazy ideas at some point. I’d like to at least put the ideas out there, in case anyone else wants to run with them.
1. Worst Teams in NBA History
Normally, classic team roster mods follow the same logic that NBA 2K has adopted with their historical squads. NBA Champions are an obvious choice, as are their rivals and Finals opponents. Noteworthy contenders and the best teams of prominent NBA legends are also prime candidates, as are any other teams that were good, interesting, or historically significant (if only for a year). Conversely, lousy teams usually aren’t in consideration. They generally aren’t exciting, are lacking in star power, and are teams that even their most ardent fans would often rather not remember. A few years back, I even wrote a Friday Five about five such teams that 2K would likely never include.
But wouldn’t that be a crazy idea for a roster mod? Rather than a collection of the best and most interesting teams in league history, celebrating champions and star players, it would be a roster mod containing some of the NBA’s worst-ever teams. The five from my aforementioned article would surely be candidates, but I’d also throw in one of the post-Jordan Bulls squads, Mavericks and Nuggets teams from the mid to late 90s, the 2015 Knicks, and the Clippers from one of their absolute worst years. If a team is on this list, then they’d be a candidate! It’s a little crazy given that these teams don’t have much going for them, but it’d be fun to find out who’s the best of the worst.
2. Odd Games
I’ve mentioned in previous features how I enjoy the way basketball games provide a snapshot of the NBA at the time they were released. Even when they’re updated – officially or unofficially – they’re still a time capsule for the season they’re set in. I’m also intrigued by games that capture an unusual period in NBA history, be it a player’s brief stint with a team or some other oddity. We can invoke this fascination ourselves by creating a roster mod focused on specific games. As with classic teams, normally we’d choose legendary clashes such as title-clinching contests, but since this is a crazy idea, we’re not going to do that. It’s going to be all about odd and forgotten games.
I’m talking about the time that Michael Jordan had to wear number 12 because his jersey had been stolen. I’m talking about Rasheed Wallace’s single game with the Atlanta Hawks before being traded to Detroit. One of Antoine Walker’s two games wearing number 88 after returning to the Celtics in 2005 is another example. There are two main ways of approaching this crazy roster mod. The first would be to pick fifteen scenarios and include the two teams involved. The second would be to include thirty teams that represent an odd game, specifically the team with the oddity. I personally prefer the first option, as it celebrates and replicates the odd game itself.
3. Crazy Fictional Scenarios
“What If” scenarios are fun to discuss, as well as a great idea for a roster mod. The first idea that comes to mind is a roster that includes teams that could’ve been: the 2012 Lakers with Chris Paul, the 1985 Rockets with Michael Jordan, the 2001 Magic with Tim Duncan, and other scenarios that came close to happening or were at least feasible. I still really like that idea and I’d like to see more mods along those lines, as there have been a couple. However, we can get crazier than that by dreaming up some completely fictional scenarios, or creating teams based on wild suggestions and bold predictions that didn’t pan out. Urban legends and tall tales could also qualify.
In other words, instead of assembling teams based on trades and free agent signings that almost happened, or Draft selections that could’ve been made instead, the roster would feature crazy teams and scenarios that we imagine coming together; less of a “what if” roster, and more of a “wouldn’t that be cool/funny to see” mod. One way of approaching the idea would be to feature teams that made fictional trades that could have been done. Of course, you could really go crazy with the idea and involve time travel, fathers and sons swapping eras, and so forth. Arguably, the more wacky and “out there” the roster is with its scenarios, the more fun it would be to play with.
4. Familiar Faces in Strange Places
This is similar to the “odd games” idea, but for a season (or perhaps half a season, if it involves a player being traded at the deadline). Basically, it would be about recreating the less talked about stints of various legends; the teams that you forgot they played for, or ones they tend not to be associated with. That means you could include one of the Wizards teams with Michael Jordan or the 2004 Lakers with Karl Malone, as it was definitely strange to see them in those jerseys. Hakeem Olajuwon’s stint with the Raptors and Patrick Ewing’s lone seasons with the SuperSonics and Magic would also qualify. Once again though, there’s room for obscure and unusual choices.
Take Dominique Wilkins for example. His stints with the Clippers, Celtics, Spurs, and Magic would all be viable to include. Scottie Pippen’s time with the Rockets and one of Shaq’s brief stopovers late in his career are fun ideas as well. In short, if they were ever a big name (a “familiar face”) and they had a stint with a team that you didn’t know about, forgot about, or remember as being really weird (a “strange place”), that team would be included in this roster mod. As I said, it’s enjoyable to look back on the lesser known and unusual moments in NBA history, as well as the most famous and legendary ones. A roster like this would allow us to remember odd teams and times.
5. A Memetic Roster Mod
Like McBain, let’s get silly! Look, I’m not a fan of some of the memes that make the rounds these days, especially the ones that refer to plumbers and dentists. I’m also not that fond of how the All-Star Game has become a joke and an excuse to try to vote in memetic players. When I was growing up watching the NBA, the All-Star Game was treated as a prestigious honour and event, so it’s hard to get on board with the idea that it’s a silly exhibition that shouldn’t be taken seriously. When it comes to video games, though? Hey, why not? It can be a lot of fun to just mess around, and do stupid, crazy, and unrealistic things. It’s not my preferred approach, but I like it as a change of pace.
With that in mind, this roster mod would lean into all the jokes and memes about the real NBA, basketball video games, and our own community. That means players like Brian Scalabrine, Yinka Dare, Darrick Martin, Adam Morrison, and Joel Anthony having G.O.A.T.-tier ratings. Kevin Garnett would of course be starting at point guard somewhere. Alex Caruso would be a monster, as in Shady’s video. You could even throw Lonzo Ball’s father in there, either with hilariously overpowered or insultingly low ratings. There’s a time for honour, prestige, tradition, and taking things seriously, but there’s also a time for jokes. The same goes for mods and the virtual hardwood.
Do you have any other crazy roster mod ideas? Have you ever tried your hand at making some sort of wacky roster or other mod? Let me know in the comments section 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.