The Friday Five: 5 Details That Made NBA Live 10 Special

The Friday Five: 5 Details That Made NBA Live 10 Special

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 details that made NBA Live 10 a special game.

As you may recall, in 2021 I went on a major retro gaming kick with NBA Live 10! It’s a game that I played with some enthusiasm when it was new, but I did end up putting it aside when the second patch introduced some annoying issues. However, after revisiting NBA Live 10 through Parsec sessions with Dee, as well as playing solo on my Xbox 360, I found that I had a much greater appreciation for it. In addition to following up on my 25th Anniversary of NBA Live retrospective with further thoughts, I also used the game to create a variety of Wayback Wednesday features.

I’ve put NBA Live 10 on the backburner to bring other classics into the rotation, but I still hold it in extremely high regard. Of course, there’s a bittersweet aspect to it. NBA Live 10 was the last game in the series to be widely regarded as a great release, and as such, it’s difficult to revisit it without wondering what might’ve been if not for the ill-fated attempt to reinvent the wheel in NBA Elite 11. Great gameplay and solid modes are responsible for NBA Live 10’s reputation among long-time basketball gamers, but what makes it a candidate for the best game in the NBA Live series is the attention it paid to the little details. These five details in particular made NBA Live 10 special.

1. Atmosphere Settings

NBA Finals Atmosphere & Presentation

When we have criticisms of the atmosphere in basketball video games, we’re usually talking about everything from crowd reactions to the presentation. This is something that NBA Live 10 strived to remedy, and even give us control over. There were three different atmosphere levels: regular season, Playoffs, and NBA Finals. In Dynasty mode, the appropriate atmosphere was used according to when a game was played. The enthusiasm and indeed rowdiness of the crowd increased as the stakes did, with fans that were hyped from the start when a championship was on the line. Overlays, court decals, and other presentation elements also changed in the Playoffs and Finals.

That alone would’ve been a huge improvement over previous games, but we had the added bonus of atmosphere settings in Play Now. This meant that we could utilise that special presentation and more excitable atmosphere in exhibition games. Whether it’s for content creation or just for fun, it’s extremely useful to have those options. These settings were actually brought back when NBA Live finally returned after a lengthy hiatus, and were still available as of NBA Live 19. They had been scaled back though, with Playoff settings that only reflected Game 7 of the Conference Finals or the NBA Finals. NBA Live 10 did it so much better, and it was a massive deal at the time.

2. Unique Player Details & Interactions

Steve Nash on the Floor in Warmups

Suffice to say, atmosphere settings were part of a larger effort to not only replicate the real NBA, but truly bring it to life in NBA Live 10. The same could be said of many of the unique player details and interactions. As I’ve covered in Wayback Wednesday, Vince Carter was booed when playing in Toronto as an opponent. This happened regardless of whether he remained on the Orlando Magic where he was by default, or if you moved him to another team. However, if you place him back on the Raptors, the Toronto crowd will cheer him again! Carter being booed is a detail that’s quite well-known, but fans forgiving him upon a fictional return may come as a surprise.

The same thing happens with other players who are booed in specific cities, such as Carlos Boozer in Cleveland. It’s a level of attention to detail beyond the attention to detail that we were already aware of! Speaking of unique player details, you’ll also notice that Steve Nash lies down on the floor when he’s out of the game, rather than sitting on the bench. Like a lot of players who developed back problems, it was more comfortable for him (see Larry Bird in his later years and during the 1992 Olympics). It’s not as though NBA Live 10 would’ve been ruined without these details, but the fact that the developers cared enough to add them made the game even more special.

3. Signature Player Celebrations

Stromile Swift Celebration in NBA Live 10

You might miss some of the aforementioned details depending on the teams and players you’re using, but it’s impossible not to notice the amount of signature animations in NBA Live 10. In addition to a variety of jumpshot forms, the game featured signature dunk packages, running styles, pre-game rituals, and of course, celebrations. The reason that I’m singling out celebrations in particular is that the developers really went the extra mile in that department. After all, it’s one thing to make sure that all the big stars and prominent active players have their own signature animations. NBA Live 10 was on another level though, showing love to role players.

On top of that, players who were out of the league (or on their way out of the league) were also accounted for when it came to signature celebrations! Sure, you might expect Quentin Richardson to perform his trademark head tap upon making a big bucket, but his former Clippers teammate Darius Miles does it too. As pictured above, Stromile Swift will break out his signature celebration after punishing the rim with a huge dunk. By that point, Miles and Swift were barely playing, and were former NBA players by the time the 2010 season tipped off. There would’ve been no issue if they didn’t have their signature celebrations, but again, the developers went the extra mile.

4. The Hangar (And Its Groups of Players)

The Hangar in NBA Live 10

In the grand scheme of things, a practice court is hardly the most important feature in a basketball video game. However, presentation and identity is important, and The Hangar undoubtedly contributed to the style and personality of NBA Live 10. Its basic concept was to be the ultimate practice facility; an exclusive gym where NBA players met up to hone their skills and take part in All-Star pickup games. It was a creative design – so-named because it resembled an aircraft hangar – and was another way to have us immediately load into a practice arena to shoot around before even reaching the main menu. Like The Temple and NBA Live Academy, The Hangar stood out.

Not only was The Hangar a cool design, but it also included a number of Easter eggs in the form of the groups of players shooting around. Every time the game boots up, it loads the same starting group comprised of contemporary stars. Upon ending a game or exiting a mode, a new group of players will appear in The Hangar. Each group has a theme that may not be immediately apparent, but is fun to discern. These groups included former number one picks, brand athletes, 90s Draftees, and more. It’s not a necessary feature that improves gameplay or modes, but that’s not the point. Details like that are fun and give a game character, and NBA Live 10 benefitted from them.

5. Inclusion of Popular & Obscure Retro Jerseys Alike

Retro Jerseys in NBA Live 10

Unfortunately, NBA Live lost a number of features when it made the jump to the seventh generation with NBA Live 06 on Xbox 360, notably Dynasty mode and the retro content. Dynasty was back in NBA Live 07, but sadly the Decade All-Stars and Legends Pool didn’t return. It also took a few years for retro jerseys to make their way back into the game, but they were finally added again in NBA Live 10. It was overdue to say the least, but we were still extremely glad to have them back. Every team had at least one home and away throwback, with some having a couple to choose from. Once again, the developers also saw fit to take things a step further with those retro jerseys.

First of all, the Oklahoma City Thunder had Seattle SuperSonics throwbacks, so it was possible to bring back the Sonics (at least in a limited way). There were also noteworthy alternate uniforms, such as the Chicago Bulls’ black pinstripe jerseys from the 1996 and 1997 seasons. My favourite is probably the New Orleans Hornets’ red alternate, worn only once on Valentine’s Day 2007; the only official appearance that jersey has ever made in a video game. If NBA Live 10 had included the Mavericks’ infamous trash bag jersey as well, that really would’ve been something! Recent NBA 2K games have a wider selection of retro jerseys, but NBA Live 10’s was admirable.

Do you remember these details from NBA Live 10? What are some of your fondest memories and overall impressions of that game? Let me know in the comments, 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.

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March 25, 2023 7:13 am

I always thought the hanger was a cool concept for being able to learn moves with different star players all in one place without having to leave the mode to switch players, nba live also I always thought was the best for the amount of jerseys that were available to use from the get go while 2k keep you waiting and release them gradually during the season.

nba live 10 was a great game overall I do miss it

March 26, 2023 9:58 pm
Reply to  Andrew

Yeah that was the downside, EA were always coming up with cool new ideas but not following up on something that works but choosing far to often to start fresh

March 25, 2023 11:19 am

Real quick, I’m gonna say that Live 10 was awesome, and I really enjoyed the time with it I had, and the atmosphere was amazing, especially with the smaller details.
Also, small mistake you made, but the Valentine’s Day Hornets jersey was in NBA Live 07 on the 360 btw (for exactly how, go to the cheat codes screen, and enter “LUV85499PQ”, you should unlock it, idk if it’s in the 6th gen version)

Last edited 1 year ago by Ramiel