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 part five in a series of lists of retro teams that I’d like to see added to NBA 2K.
Even with all the retro teams that are already in NBA 2K, I can’t stop thinking of new squads that would be fun to play with. As I’ve previously noted, some of the additions in recent years have opened the door to teams outside of previous champions, NBA Finalists, and perennial title contenders. There have been plenty of squads throughout the years that have been memorable for one reason or another, if only for a season or two. It’d be great to get them into future NBA 2K games, not only to play with, but also to boost the ranks of historical players in MyTEAM and the All-Time squads.
Once again, this is part five in an ongoing series of suggestions for new retro teams. I’d still like to see the teams I mentioned in parts 1, 2, 3, and 4 included at some point, but with another five squads coming to mind, it was time for another list. As always, please note that these suggestions assume that most of the significant players (if not all of them) can be licensed to appear in the game, since it would be rather pointless to add these retro teams otherwise. Some are probably more feasible than others, while a few have the advantage of several players already appearing in the game. With that being said, let’s get to the list!
1. 1983 Philadelphia 76ers
It’s the team that should’ve been chosen for Julius Erving’s game in NBA’s Greatest, especially as it was practically identical to the 1985 squad that was notably missing Charles Barkley. The late, great Moses Malone famously predicted “fo, fo, fo”, or in other words, a clean sweep of the entire 1983 Playoffs. Playing alongside Dr J, Bobby Jones, Maurice Cheeks, and Andrew Toney, the regular season and Finals MVP’s bold prediction almost came true. The 76ers, who had a first round bye, dropped one game to the Milwaukee Bucks in the Conference Finals after sweeping the New York Knicks. They then swept the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers in the Finals.
Looking back, the decision to include the 1985 Philadelphia 76ers in NBA 2K12 was probably made because the Bucks were chosen as their featured opponent. Although there were still quite a few familiar faces from a couple of years earlier, the ’85 Bucks had a few players who would’ve been more well-known to gamers who grew up in the 90s, as well as a couple who had already been licensed for other retro teams. The ’83 Sixers definitely aren’t worth including without Moses Malone, so if 2K can get his likeness rights again, then it would only be appropriate to finally represent them in a future NBA 2K release.
2. 1995 or 1996 Los Angeles Lakers
Like their storied rivals the Boston Celtics, the Los Angeles Lakers have had several noteworthy teams, thanks in no small part to their sixteen championships; the second-most behind their perennial adversaries. The Lakers also hold the distinction of almost always being relevant, compared to the ups and downs that most other franchises have experienced over the years. Up until the past five seasons, the Lakers have generally been a Playoff team and quite often prominent contenders, if not the champions or NBA Finalists. It’s a level of consistency that only the San Antonio Spurs have been able to match, following David Robinson’s arrival in 1989.
With some of the best Lakers teams already represented among NBA 2K’s selection of retro teams, and the notable absence of the 2009 championship team covered in a previous list, let’s turn our attention to some of their less successful, but nevertheless interesting squads. Between missing the Playoffs in 1994 and the arrival of Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant in the 1996 offseason, the Lakers had a couple of teams that would make fun additions to the game. With players like Eddie Jones, Nick Van Exel, Cedric Ceballos, Vlade Divac, and Anthony Peeler, either their 1995 or 1996 squad would be nice. Magic Johnson’s comeback in 1996 might be the deciding factor, here.
3. 1997 Charlotte Hornets
It’s hard for me to compile a list without suggesting retro teams from the late 90s, in particular the 1997 season. I have another one this time around, namely the Charlotte Hornets led by Glen Rice, Anthony Mason, and Vlade Divac. It was a toss up between the 1997 and 1998 teams, with the 1998 team having the distinction of making it to the second round and stealing a win from the Chicago Bulls in the midst of their Last Dance. The 1997 team did win three more games during the regular season however, and it was the year that Glen Rice broke a couple of Wilt Chamberlain’s All-Star Game records on route to winning MVP honours in the NBA’s midseason classic.
On top of that, their roster just might be a little bit more fun to play with. In addition to Rice, Mason, and Divac, they had Muggsy Bogues, Ricky Pierce, Matt Geiger, Scott Burrell, and even briefly Tom Chambers, though he was cut late in the season. The 1998 squad lost Bogues, Pierce, and Burrell, while adding B.J. Armstrong, David Wesley, Vernon Maxwell, and the late Bobby Phills. The ’97 team just feels a bit more retro though, and there are already a few ’98 squads in the game, with only the ’97 Miami Heat representing the previous season. Glen Rice also had his best season in 1997, so I’ll stick with that team as my choice.
4. 2006 Los Angeles Clippers
Whereas the Lakers are one of the most successful franchises in league history, the Clippers – especially since joining the Lakers in Los Angeles – have been the NBA’s longest running joke. After acquiring Chris Paul in 2011, they enjoyed their most successful run, which came to an end this season. There were moments of relevance in years gone by, of course; glimmers of hope and potential that unfortunately for the long-suffering fanbase, turned out to be false starts. The first one came in the early 90s under Larry Brown’s leadership, with former number one pick Danny Manning as the team’s star. They’d be an interesting choice, but we can do better.
CP3’s arrival resulted in a second round appearance, but it wasn’t the first time that the Clippers had won a first round series. Excluding their formative years as the Buffalo Braves, the first time the Clippers reached the second round was in 2006. They were led by Sam Cassell and Elton Brand, the latter of whom made his second All-Star appearance that year. Corey Maggette, Shaun Livingston, Cuttino Mobley, Chris Kaman, and Walter McCarty were also members of a team that won 47 games and pushed league MVP Steve Nash’s Phoenix Suns to seven games. NBA 2K could use a few more retro teams from the mid 2000s, and those Clippers would be a good choice.
5. 2010 Orlando Magic
Since we already have a few squads from the current decade among the retro teams, I’d suggest adding the 2010 Orlando Magic. Fresh off a loss to Kobe Bryant’s Los Angeles Lakers in five games, the team took part in a massive four team trade that ended up landing them Vince Carter. Teaming up with Dwight Howard, Rashard Lewis, Jameer Nelson, J.J. Redick, Jason Williams, Marcin Gortat, and Matt Barnes, Vinsanity helped the Magic to a 59-23 record during the regular season. The team went all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals, where the Boston Celtics and their quartet of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and Rajon Rondo beat them in six.
Even though the addition of Carter didn’t bring them the championship that eluded them the season before – and indeed, their 59-23 record equalled their mark from the previous year – they were still a fun team to watch. With Howard and Carter there to finish inside, White Chocolate throwing fancy passes, and the outside shooting of Lewis and Redick, they’d be a fun team to play with once again. Funnily enough, that team didn’t make a single trade or signing, nor release a single player, during the year. Almost all of their players are either still active or licensed for other retro teams, so getting them into the game shouldn’t be too difficult, either.
What are some other retro teams that you’d like to see included in future NBA 2K games? Do you like any of the suggestions that I’ve made? Have your say 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.