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The Friday Five: 5 Players In More Video Games Than NBA Games Played (Part 9)

The Friday Five: 5 Players In More Video Games Than NBA Games Played (Part 9)

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 Part 9 in an ongoing series listing players that appeared in more video games than actual NBA games.

We’ve arrived at the ninth and (for the moment) final instalment in this series of articles looking at players that have appeared in more video games than NBA games. In hindsight, this could’ve been a few longer articles for Wayback Wednesday, but when I posted the first instalment, I had no idea that I’d find so many examples! As it is, I discarded a number of players that I originally noted in my research. Otherwise, there’d probably be at least four or five more parts, and to be honest, not every player on those lists has a unique story, or interesting tidbit of virtual hardwood trivia.

Indeed, there’s overlap in the reasons that players end up appearing in more video games than actual NBA games. The common factor, of course, is that they were signed to a contract while a game was in production and its rosters were finalised, only to be cut before they could make their official NBA debut. It’s all down to the timing of their signing and release. Nevertheless, over the course of this series, my research has turned up what I feel are some fascinating stories tied in with video game trivia, which is something that I enjoy talking about. I hope that it’s been fun for you, but before I wrap up this series, here are five final examples…at least for now.

1. David Young (NBA Live 2005)

David Young in NBA Live 2005

Let’s tip things off with yet another example from NBA Live 2005! The last four instalments have included a rookie from NBA Live 2005 that was around long enough to be featured on the virtual hardwood, but gone before they could officially debut on a real NBA court. Young was drafted by the Seattle SuperSonics in the second round of the 2004 Draft, and was signed on September 1st; just in time for inclusion in NBA Live 2005. As with the other rookies in NBA Live 2005 that ended up being released during the preseason, he doesn’t appear in ESPN NBA 2K5. Incidentally, David Blu is the only example from ESPN NBA 2K5 that doesn’t also appear in NBA Live 2005.

So, what’s the story with David Young? He played in the Summer League, first for the Sonics in 2004, and then for the Nets in 2006 and the Kings in 2007. Neither of the latter stints resulted in contracts, but he was active through to 2016, playing in Asia, Europe, and the D-League. While he wouldn’t ever tally an official minute for the Seattle SuperSonics, his brother-in-law, former NFL player Leon Washington, spent a couple of years in the city playing for the Seahawks. As an aside, while David didn’t appear in NBA 2K, the producers seem to love the surname Young, as they used it for MyCAREER story characters in NBA 2K17 (Justice) and NBA 2K19 (Marcus).

2. Mike Gansey (NBA Live 07 & NBA 2K7)

More Video Games Than NBA Games: Mike Gansey (NBA Live 07)

Now the general manager of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Mike Gansey had a brief pro career after playing college ball at West Virginia; Jerry West’s alma mater. Despite being an extremely efficient shooter for the Mountaineers, and their appearance in the Sweet 16 in 2006, Gansey went undrafted. He clearly turned some heads though, as the Miami Heat – fresh off winning the championship – signed him to a multi-year contract not long after the Draft. As a result, Gansey can be found on the Heat’s roster in NBA Live 07 and NBA 2K7. He was also still on their roster in real life as of the North American release on September 25th, but was then cut just five days later.

Gansey spent time in the D-League, where he was the first round pick of the Erie Bayhawks in 2008, but didn’t report to camp. In 2009, he was selected by the Idaho Stampede, but was traded…to the Bayhawks! On top of a couple of Summer League stints, he played in Italy, Germany, China, and Spain, before retiring in 2011. A native of Cleveland, Gansey was also a three-time All-State player in high school, and once finished second in Mr. Basketball voting behind one LeBron James. He went on to hold front office positions with the Canton Charge – the Cavs’ G League affiliate – and was Koby Altman’s assistant GM until both were promoted to their current gigs.

3. Josh Moore (NBA 2K7)

Josh Moore in NBA 2K7

If I said that I was thinking of a centre born in Newark, New Jersey, who stands over seven feet tall, weighs over three hundred pounds, and wore #34 for Los Angeles, you’d rightfully assume that I was referring to Shaquille O’Neal. The funny thing is that I could also be referring to Josh Moore, since he fits that very carefully worded description. Not only that, but Moore is Shaq’s younger cousin! And, further to that, he appears in NBA 2K7, which features Shaq on the cover. Of course, while Shaq is a Hall of Famer with 19 years in the NBA and a trophy case full of achievements to his name, his cousin Josh didn’t register a single official game played in the league.

To that point though, he does have a distinction that Shaq doesn’t: an appearance in a video game despite never officially debuting in the NBA! Moore did actually spend an entire season on the Clippers’ roster, and you can find photos of him wearing their jersey. As far as I can tell though, they’re all 2003 media day shots, and one that’s possibly from a scrimmage/preseason game. Ironically, he didn’t appear in NBA Live 2004 or ESPN NBA Basketball. With his image likely still under license due to the multi-year contract he originally signed in 2003, he’s in the Free Agents Pool in NBA 2K7. I’ve placed him back on the Clippers here for the sake of an in-game screenshot.

4. Petteri Koponen (NBA 2K8)

More Video Games Than NBA Games: Petteri Koponen (NBA 2K8)

As I’ve noted in previous instalments, these examples have focused on players that are no longer active. This is deliberate, as their status of appearing in video games but not any real NBA games is not about to change, unlike a more recent player who could very well still make their way to the league and debut. Just to change things up with some other interesting examples though, I have included a few players found in older games that are still active and could feasibly still come to the NBA, unlikely as that may be. Up until recently, that included Finnish guard Petteri Koponen, who was selected by the Philadelphia 76ers with the final pick of the first round back in 2007.

Before Draft Night was over, Koponen’s rights were traded to the Portland Trail Blazers for cash and the rights to their second round pick, Derrick Byars. While Byars did eventually debut in the 2012 season, Koponen never played in the NBA outside of the Summer League. I can’t find any record of him signing with the Blazers, but he does appear on their roster in NBA 2K8. His Draft rights were traded again to Dallas in 2011, though the Mavericks struck an annual agreement with Koponen that he not sign in order to remove the associated cap hold. He retired in September 2022, so it appears he’ll remain a player who appeared in more video games than NBA games.

5. Ryan Richards (NBA 2K11)

Ryan Richards in NBA 2K11

How about we wrap up this instalment and put a bow on the series – again, at least for now – with someone that could potentially take themselves off the list of players who have appeared in more video games than real NBA games? Ryan Richards is still active, and a few years younger than the aforementioned Petteri Koponen to boot. He’s also an international player, born in England and holding dual British-Jamaican citizenship. As such, he’s played professionally in England, as well as Iran, Belgium, Spain, Poland, Japan, Angola, Georgia (the country, not the US state), and Austria. He also played for the Overseas Elite in ESPN’s The Basketball Tournament in 2016.

Richards was drafted by the San Antonio Spurs with the 49th pick in 2010, and also participated in a couple of Summer League tournaments. In 2016, the Spurs put in the appropriate tender to retain his Draft rights, and subsequently signed him. He was on their training camp roster for three days before he was cut, which I believe freed him up to sign anywhere else, should the opportunity arise. It was his status as a 2010 Draftee that granted him his lone video game appearance – one more appearance than he’s made in a real NBA game, of course – back in NBA 2K11. As with some of the other second round picks that year, he’s in the official roster, but has been deactivated.

After nine instalments, I think I’ve covered all of the most interesting examples of players that have appeared in more video games than NBA games. Once again, I hope you’ve enjoyed this trivia as much as I have researching it! If you remember any of these players from games or their other stints, or you know of any examples that I’ve missed in these nine articles, let me know in the comments. As always, feel free to take the discussion to the NLSC Forum as well! 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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