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. In this week’s Five, I’m offering up some more theories and alternative interpretations for the stories in MyCAREER.
It’s time once again to indulge in a bit of creative writing and fun speculation! Last November, I wrote a Friday Five that took the stories that NBA 2K has implemented in MyCAREER, and twisted them around with some theories and interpretations that somewhat altered their tone. It’s still one of my favourite articles that I’ve written, as reimagining the MyCAREER stories in a darker or more dramatic light turned out to be a fun exercise. NBA 2K18 has provided us with another story to pick apart, and I have a few more ideas, so it seems like an opportune time for a follow-up article.
Once again, I do have to stress that I don’t actually believe these interpretations and theories, even though I do feel that a couple of them actually fit quite well. In fact, if you told me that the first theory was indeed intentional and what’s actually going on, I wouldn’t be entirely surprised. This is all meant to be in fun though, so don’t take it too seriously. With that being said, you may find that a couple of these theories make a little too much sense. At the very least, I hope it’ll be an amusing read to take you into the weekend. Let’s once again go tumbling down the rabbit hole; tinfoil hats are of course welcome, but completely optional.
1. Shammy Wells is a Parody of MyCAREER Gamers & Stories
The story in NBA 2K18’s MyCAREER contains a lot of self-referential nods to 2K Sports and previous NBA 2K games. There’s the response to Ronnie 2K, sarcastically telling him to fix the servers. References are made to characters from the previous MyCAREER stories, explicitly describing them as being fictional (more on that in a later theory). Building on a suggestion I made in a recent Monday Tip-Off article, the best satire in this year’s story could in fact be Shammy Wells himself. In a nutshell, Shammy Wells is a parody of both the gamers who play MyCAREER, and the stories that we now find ourselves playing through.
To begin with, he’s obviously fictional, just like a MyPLAYER. Despite not having the ratings of a star, he’s treated like a big deal; the commentators talk about him, and he’s got connections with a bunch of NBA players. During gameplay, Wells will shamelessly pad his stats with a quick trigger on his shot, and a reluctance to pass. His dialogue is sometimes confrontational, and almost always obnoxious. In other words, he’s not too unlike the way that a lot of people play through MyCAREER. Also, consider that Shammy is listed as a five year pro, despite having no career stats. How many MyCAREER stories have we had now? Five, of course.
2. NBA 2K15’s MyCAREER Story is a Dark Sequel to Space Jam
As far as catchy themes from the 90s are concerned, Space Jam is right up there with DuckTales. Both songs are stuck in my head, and now, you’ll share my burden. In any event, rumours persist of a sequel possibly starring LeBron James, presumably where he ends up joining the Nerdlucks and spends the rest of the film acting like he doesn’t care that people treat him like a villain, when in fact he cares very much. All snark aside, as much as I like the original Space Jam, we don’t need to see a follow-up. Casablanca, Planes, Trains & Automobiles, Space Jam; great films should be left alone. No sequels, no remakes. To mess with such perfection would be a crime.
Besides, we already have an unofficial sequel to Space Jam, by way of the story in NBA 2K15’s MyCAREER. You may think that the distinctive voice acting from your mentors is simply a case of the producers realising that that’s the best take they’re going to get and calling it a day, but it is in fact a sign that something very sinister has happened. This time, the Nerdlucks aren’t just stealing the talents of NBA players. They’re taking it one step further and actively possessing them, as evidenced by their strange speech and behaviour. It’s up to our MyPLAYER to discover their plot and save the day, but sadly, he’s too much of a selfish jerk to care.
3. Jackson Ellis is an Urban Legend/Inside Joke
This one’s building off my previous theory that Jackson Ellis doesn’t exist, a la Tyler Durden. The twist here is that he’s a figment of everyone’s imagination…maybe. Among NBA players, tales are told of a talented young player named Jackson Ellis. Ellis appeared to have a bright future, but his career was abruptly brought to an end by a serious injury. His story is therefore a cautionary tale, passed down through the NBA fraternity to warn young players against hubris. The story we play through in NBA 2K14’s MyCAREER is the origin of this ominous tale of two promising prospects: one humble and responsible, the other brash and reckless.
Sure, there are conflicting accounts as to whether the story is true, and Jackson Ellis is a real person or not. He appears in other MyCAREER stories in some capacity, after all. Perhaps “Jackson Ellis” is a pseudonym for a real player whose career ended too soon. Perhaps he’s an amalgamation of real players whose stories make up his tale. Either way, Ellis has become a mixture of an urban legend and inside joke for NBA players. The proprietor of Fresh Squeezed is in on it too, given his “Jackson Ellis is my Spirit Animal” t-shirt. It may sound like a clichéd twist, but consider the clue found under Location on Ellis’ Twitter profile: “In your head”. I rest my case.
4. Justice Young is Pres’ Long-Lost Brother
What’s even more heart-warming than a reunion of long-lost siblings? Reuniting with a long-lost sibling, and becoming the next legendary duo in the NBA, of course! Pres and Justice are a bit standoffish with each other at first, but soon develop a mutual respect due to their shared work ethic, and very quickly form a familial bond. They devise a nickname for themselves that’s derived from a handshake a couple of kids who grew up together might invent. Over the course of their rookie season, they become a force on the court, demonstrating an uncanny chemistry that almost seems like they’re both being controlled by some higher power.
NBA 2K17’s MyCAREER story is a tale of success and friendship in basketball at the highest level, but what if the bond is stronger than that? What if Justice is actually Pres’ long-lost older brother, or half-brother? Perhaps that’s why Justice is a bit cold towards Pres at first. Pres may still feel the sting of losing his father at fourteen, but Justice – then only eighteen years old himself – never even got to have a relationship with him. He’s resentful at first, but ultimately comes to look out for his little brother, and share in the journey as they both get their big break at the same time. At the end of the day, blood is thicker than water; or for that matter, orange juice (haha).
5. Every MyCAREER is an Alternate Universe, with Traces of the Mandela Effect
It’s kind of an obvious and straightforward theory in some respects, seeing as how your progress in MyCAREER doesn’t carry over from year to year. Every MyCAREER story exists in a vacuum…well, sort of. There are recurring characters, like the aforementioned Jackson Ellis. Even if they don’t appear in person, there are subtle nods and quick references to former protagonists and other characters. Naturally, we gamers remember the events of previous MyCAREER stories, even though they don’t seem to have ever occurred, at least according to the story we’re currently playing. Clearly, we’re dealing with a series of alternate universes.
In addition to the above examples of the Mandela effect, there’s a clear link between the universes. During a cutscene in NBA 2K18’s story, D.J. engages in a discussion about the best characters in basketball video games, demonstrating that the events of one universe are known as fictional stories in others. Of course, taking part in that conversation is Shammy Wells, the five year pro with no career stats to speak of, obviously because he’s a manifestation of the entity holding together the fabric of all these MyCAREER universes. If there’s a reference to The Berenstain Bears in NBA 2K19, I’m going to go ahead and declare that this one’s definitely canon.
How do these theories and interpretations of the MyCAREER stories sit with you? What entertaining theories can you come up with? Sound off 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.