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 a countdown of the Top 5 Legends that need to be added in future NBA 2K games.
There’s no denying that the NBA 2K series has done some incredible things with its historical content over the past eight years. Beginning with the Jordan Challenge and NBA’s Greatest, and continuing with the addition of several more historical squads including the 1992 Dream Team, we’ve had the opportunity to indulge our nostalgia, as well as play out so many Past vs. Present scenarios on the virtual hardwood. The presence of so many Legends has also unquestionably benefitted MyTEAM, allowing us to put together some amazing fantasy squads that are a lot of fun to play with.
Of course, it’s difficult for Visual Concepts to achieve complete accuracy when it comes to the historical content in NBA 2K. Unlike current players, who are all covered by the licensing agreement with the NBA Players Association, Legends are not automatically licensed to be included in video games. Several Legends – or in the case of Legends who have passed away, their estate – have retained the rights to their likenesses, and for one reason or another, have declined to appear in the games. Obviously that’s a legal barrier that needs to be cleared, but assuming it’s possible, here are the Top 5 Legends that need to be added to NBA 2K’s historical teams.
5. Anthony Mason
A key member of the New York Knicks teams of the 90s that also featured Patrick Ewing, John Starks, and Charles Oakley, Anthony Mason may not rank up there in the pantheon of NBA Legends, but he was a tough and talented player who ultimately found success in the league. You may also remember his time with the Charlotte Hornets, but he’s probably best known for his tenure with those rough Knicks teams. That’s how he came to be in the NBA 2K series years after his retirement, appearing on the 1995 Knicks for the “Double Nickel” portion of the Jordan Challenge. Mason continued to appear on the squad in subsequent releases.
Sadly, Mase passed away in February 2015, at the age of 48. His passing also marked the end of his appearances in video games, with NBA 2K15 being the last game to feature him as a member of the 1995 Knicks. Now, let me be clear: it’s completely understandable that granting 2K his likeness rights is not a top priority for his family, and they alone get to decide how to appropriately honour his memory and legacy. It’s not our place to demand anything of them. However, if there comes a time when they change their mind and grant permission for him to be included once more, then it will certainly come as welcome news. Until such time, we must all respect their wishes.
4. Rasheed Wallace
When it was announced that the 2000 Portland Trail Blazers and 2004 Detroit Pistons were being added in NBA 2K16, basketball gamers were excited. Despite an overall lack of success, the Blazers teams of the early 2000s were some memorable squads, and the 2004 Pistons beat a heavily favoured and star-studded Los Angeles Lakers team for the franchise’s third championship. However, that excitement waned when it was discovered that Rasheed Wallace – a huge part of those Blazers and Pistons teams to say the least – wasn’t in the game. We don’t know the exact circumstances behind his absence, but suffice to say, 2K hasn’t been able to come to terms with Sheed.
Whether it’s a case of money, moral solidarity with other Legends over their fees, or just a lack of interest, we can only speculate. The bottom line, of course, is that he isn’t in NBA 2K, and his absence sticks out like a sore thumb. I won’t go so far as to say that those teams shouldn’t have been included, but without Wallace, their presence doesn’t feel quite as special. Visual Concepts has been able to come to terms with players and add them to the historical teams, even after a game’s release in some cases, so I hope that they can work things out with Sheed at some point. If they do, I hope they also record him shouting “Ball don’t lie!” for a signature reaction.
3. Reggie Miller
Since the addition of historical teams in NBA 2K11, one of the Legends that gamers have most wanted to see added is Reggie Miller. One of the premiere three-point marksmen and clutch performers in NBA history, the current NBA on TNT analyst has thus far declined to appear in the NBA 2K series. From all accounts, it seems that his unwillingness to participate stems from his dissatisfaction with the compensation that his peers receive for appearing in video games. It’s definitely an understandable and admirable stance, though it still comes as a disappointment to fans who would love to play with some of his best Indiana Pacers teams.
Miller’s absence from NBA 2K has also left a gaping hole in the newly added All-Time Pacers squad. With all due respect to players like Danny Granger and Clark Kellogg, their addition to the team doesn’t bring the same excitement as Reggie Miller, who still stands as the best and most significant player in franchise history. It remains to be seen whether Miller will budge on the issue of appearing in the games. So far, he hasn’t shown a great deal of interest in changing his mind, but perhaps Visual Concepts can make some sort of financial gesture in support of retired players that will give him incentive to reconsider. We’ll come back to that idea later.
2. Moses Malone
One of the most famously nomadic NBA Legends, Moses Malone could conceivably appear on at least four All-Time teams in NBA 2K18. Similar to the aforementioned Anthony Mason, however, Big Mo has been absent from NBA 2K since his passing in September 2015. His last appearance to date was in NBA 2K16 as a member of the 1985 Philadelphia 76ers; a team originally added in NBA 2K12 along with the 1985 Milwaukee Bucks for Julius Erving’s game in NBA’s Greatest. With his removal from the game, the 1985 76ers have also been dropped, a decision that was likely also made in part due to the absence of the next and final player in this countdown.
As with Mason, this is a situation where we absolutely must respect the wishes of Malone’s family, and it’s completely understandable that a video game is not the first thing on their mind. Once again though, if they are open to granting 2K permission to use his likeness in future games, it would be great to see the legendary Chairman of the Boards back on the virtual hardwood. Whether some of his most memorable teams can be included, or even if he’s simply a member of a few of the appropriate All-Time squads, he’d be another welcome re-addition. It is a delicate situation though, and at the end of the day, his family’s wishes are far more important than our nostalgia.
1. Charles Barkley
In terms of ranking all the Legends in NBA history, it could certainly be argued that Moses Malone should be ahead of Charles Barkley. However, I would suggest that Sir Charles has more name recognition and popularity, which is why I’m ranking him first in this countdown. Gamers have long lobbied for Barkley’s inclusion as an analyst in video games, but with historical content becoming such a big part of NBA 2K, there’s naturally a lot of interest in seeing his Phoenix Suns and Houston Rockets squads in the game. With the addition of the All-Time teams in NBA 2K18, his absence is noticeable not only on the Suns and Rockets, but also the Philadelphia 76ers.
It should be noted that Barkley has appeared in NBA 2K13 and NBA 2K17 as a member of the 1992 Dream Team. This was a special concession on his part, as like Reggie Miller, he normally declines inclusion in video games in protest of his fellow Legends not being paid enough for their likenesses. He is on record saying that he will appear in NBA 2K for free, as long as Visual Concepts donates a million dollars to the NBA Retired Players Association; an offer that they have not taken him up on. With NBA 2K selling as well as it does – not to mention all the profits they’re making from “recurrent revenue” – perhaps they can reconsider his proposal.
Assuming Visual Concepts can secure the appropriate likeness rights, who are some of the other Legends that you’d like to see added in future NBA 2K games? 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.