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 another list of five retro teams that I’d like to see added to NBA 2K.
Since I talked about some of the worst classic teams to be included in NBA 2K in last week’s Friday Five, it only makes sense to switch focus to some of the retro teams that I’d like to see in future games. There are quite a number of old teams that would be fun to play with in NBA 2K, and indeed, I posted five I was hoping to see added way back in August 2016. As it happened, a couple of the teams I mentioned have since made their way into the game (along with one from around the same era), so it seems that we should never say “never”.
As such, this is part two of what will probably end up being a series of articles on the retro teams that I’d like to see added in future NBA 2K games. While some teams are sadly unlikely due to an inability to license specific players, I’m making my picks based on the assumption that Visual Concepts would be able to find a way to come to terms with them. After all, it’s a list of teams I’d like to see in the game, not strictly a list of teams I think we feasibly could see. With that out of the way, and considering that I’d still like to see my previous suggestions added, let’s take a look at five more retro teams that I’d like to see in NBA 2K’s roster.
1. 1993 New Jersey Nets
We actually thought that this squad would be among the new retro teams added in NBA 2K18. In a Tweet from August 2017 that hasn’t been deleted as of writing, one-time All-Star Kenny Anderson, a key member of that squad, declared that they would be available in the game. As the team’s inclusion on this list would indicate, when the full list of new retro teams for NBA 2K18 was finally revealed, the 1993 New Jersey Nets were not among them. One might suggest that Anderson was simply guessing, but his initial Tweet and this reply seem to indicate otherwise. They sound far more like declarations than speculation.
In any event, the ’93 Nets would indeed be a good squad to add. Although they only won 43 games and lost in the first round to a Cleveland Cavaliers team led by Mark Price and Brad Daugherty, they were talented and full of promise. In addition to Anderson, they also featured Derrick Coleman, a rising star who at the time had the potential to be one of the best players in the league. Their roster also boasted the late great Drazen Petrovic, veterans such as Bernard King, Maurice Cheeks, and Sam Bowie, and other players of note including Chris Morris and Jayson Williams. That Nets team may not have reached their potential, but they’d be fun to play with.
2. 1997 Minnesota Timberwolves
With so many great champions, NBA Finalists, and other elite squads making up the roster of retro teams in NBA 2K, the door has been opened to add some unorthodox choices. The 2000 Toronto Raptors and 2003 Dallas Mavericks would be a couple of good examples here. In the same vein, I’d suggest the 1997 Minnesota Timberwolves. That season saw the debut of their new logo and jerseys, which I’ve always liked, as well as their first postseason appearance. They had a good mix of future All-Stars, established players in their prime, and some capable veterans. They may have finished 40-42 and lost in the first round of the Playoffs, but the future looked bright.
First of all, you’ve got Kevin Garnett in his second season, the year he became an All-Star. There’s also rookie Stephon Marbury, who posted some decent numbers in his freshman campaign, and seemed poised to form an exciting duo with KG. Speaking of 1997 All-Stars, Minnesota had Tom Gugliotta, who actually led them in scoring. They also had Terry Porter, Sam Mitchell, Doug West, and Reggie Jordan, not to mention Aussie Shane Heal in his first NBA stint. The 1998 team that finished 45-37 would be a good choice as well, but any later than that, and they lose Starbury. With a few other teams from that era already in the game, I’d like to see them added.
3. 1998 Indiana Pacers
Talk about teams that peaked at the wrong time. The 1998 Indiana Pacers gave the Chicago Bulls all they could handle in the Eastern Conference Finals, taking them to seven games and almost ending The Last Dance on a sour note. A deep squad that featured Reggie Miller, Chris Mullin, Rik Smits, Mark Jackson, Anthony Davis, Dale Davis, Derrick McKey, and Jalen Rose, they won an impressive 58 games during the regular season and earned Larry Bird Coach of the Year honours in his very first season on their bench. They were also the first Pacers team to don the pinstripe uniforms that they wore up until the 2005 season.
The 2000 Pacers, featuring many of the same players, admittedly went further and came within two wins of an NBA championship before falling to the Los Angeles Lakers. They’d be another viable choice, but the ’98 squad was a little deeper, and could be matched up with the ’98 Bulls who are already in the game. The sticking point here is Reggie Miller, who isn’t interested in appearing in NBA 2K. His absence would be very noticeable to say the least, which basically eliminates any of his Pacers squads from consideration. However, if Visual Concepts can change his mind and secure the rights to his likeness, I’m all for the inclusion of the 1998 Pacers.
4. 2001 Orlando Magic
Getting back to another “What If” team, the Orlando Magic from the early 2000s is another squad that never fulfilled their potential. While one of their big free agent acquisitions, Tracy McGrady, blossomed into an All-Star, things didn’t go so well for the other big name they brought in. Grant Hill’s tenure in Orlando was marred by injuries, limiting him to just 47 games through his first three seasons with the team. He played only four games in the 2001 season, though they managed a winning record without him, and made the Playoffs where they lost to the Milwaukee Bucks 3-1 in the first round. With a healthy Hill, who knows how far they could’ve gone?
Although Hill and T-Mac were the biggest names on the roster, the 2001 Magic had a few other noteworthy players. Mike Miller, the fifth pick of the Draft, turned out to be the Rookie of the Year. Darrell Armstrong, a former benchwarmer who had won the league’s Most Improved Player and Sixth Man of the Year awards upon finally getting a chance to play extended minutes in 1999, had become a reliable starter. Veterans Bo Outlaw and Dee Brown were also members of that team. The 2003 squad, which had Shawn Kemp, Horace Grant, and Drew Gooden, is a feasible alternative. At the end of the day, though, it’s about T-Mac and Hill, and what might have been.
5. 2009 Los Angeles Lakers
Let’s finish up with a team that’s far from a personal favourite, but I believe absolutely should be in the game: the 2009 championship-winning Los Angeles Lakers. Oddly, their absence makes Kobe Bryant one of the few former cover players not to have one of their most successful squads included in the roster of retro teams. Sure, the 1998 and 2001 Lakers are in the game, but those teams were unquestionably Shaquille O’Neal’s. The 2009 season saw Kobe win his first title without The Diesel, and given that the 2008 Boston Celtics are included, having both retro teams in the game would essentially allow you to replay both the 2008 and 2010 NBA Finals.
Apart from Kobe, there’s obviously Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom, Andrew Bynum, and Derek Fisher. Other names that I’m sure will be familiar include Sasha Vujacic, Vladimir Radmanovic, Luke Walton, Trevor Ariza, Jordan Farmar, and of course, NLSC Forum favourite Adam Morrison. The 2010 team that replaced Ariza with Ron Artest (aka Metta World Peace) may be preferable to some, and I’d be fine with that. Basically, I believe that one of those Kobe-led championship squads should be among the retro teams in NBA 2K, so whichever is more popular (or perhaps just easier to license) should make the cut at some point in a future release.
What are some other retro teams that you’d like to see added in future NBA 2K games, assuming all the required players (or at least the most important ones) can be licensed? Let me know in the comments 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.