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 top five countdown of my unluckiest moments in basketball gaming.
Another Friday the 13th is upon us, which is bad news for anyone who suffers from paraskevidekatriaphobia. I’m not a particularly superstitious person myself, and no Friday the 13th has given me reason to be wary of the date. In fact, given that one of my weekly features comes out every Friday, it’s conveniently provided me with a ready-made topic that can be easily tied into our interests as a community that loves basketball and basketball gaming. I’ve previously written about some of the unluckiest moments in NBA history, unlucky moments in basketball gaming, and even my favourite players who have worn number thirteen.
For this Friday the 13th, I thought that I’d revisit that second topic with a few personal anecdotes. We’ve all had our unlucky moments on the virtual hardwood, and since we tend to get somewhat invested in the video games that we play, those moments can certainly be rage-inducing. I feel as though I don’t do enough top five countdowns for the Friday Five, so I’ve decided to rank these moments according to the amount of frustration they caused me, and how unlucky they felt. Without any further ado, these are my top five unluckiest moments in basketball gaming.
5. Getting blocked after cherry-picking in 2K Pro-Am
Yes, I know. Cherry-picking is kind of a shameful strategy, whether you’re talking about real basketball or basketball gaming. However, as anyone who’s played 2K Pro-Am can attest, if you’re a perimeter player, leaking out early after a stop or rebound is an effective way of racking up a few easy baskets. Besides, other teams do it to us all the time, so you can bet that the NLSC squad is going to try to get its own back every once in a while. As a playmaker point guard, I’ve been able to pad my stats and get us some extra buckets by cherry-picking from time to time. On the other hand, defenders have also caught up to me for a chasedown block on numerous occasions.
Now, chasedown blocks do occur in the NBA, so it’s only fair that they’ll sometimes happen in a video game. Of course, I would suggest that it’s still a tad unlucky to have an easy look negated by a furious defensive effort. Furthermore, the nature of the swats can often be frustratingly unlucky. There have been many times when defenders have caught up far too easily. Other times, blocks have felt canned or come about when defenders clipped through my player, or unlucky animation choices have made it easier for them to get the rejection. I’m taking all of those chasedown blocks, and collectively naming them as my fifth unluckiest moment in basketball gaming.
4. Losing on a turnover in NBA Live 08 (Pre-Release)
I’ve been fortunate enough to attend several NBA Live community events over the years, and it’s always been a fantastic experience. It’s been great to have had the opportunity to play games before they’re released, give feedback directly to the development team, and then report back to the community. At the NBA Live 08 event in New York, I remember surprising everyone when on the very first possession after getting my hands on the sticks, instead of trying to take it to the rim for a dunk or layup, I worked a player open for a mid-range jumpshot. I remember a few people delightfully marvelling “Wow, you really are sim, aren’t you?”
That was a fun moment, but that community event was also the site of one of my unluckiest losses in basketball gaming. Pastapadre and I had a great back and forth battle with the Chicago Bulls and Seattle SuperSonics, which came down to the wire. Down by one with a little over a second left, I had possession in the frontcourt following a timeout. Chris Duhon was open under the rim for an easy layup, so I got him the ball, but I got stuck in a catching animation that saw him run out of bounds with less than a second left on the clock. Definitely unlucky, though it was still a fun game, especially when the other guys crowded around to watch and cheer us on.
3. Losing after a full court shot in NBA Live 10
With all the 2K Pro-Am that I’ve played over the past year or so, these days it’s hard for me to say that I’m not much of an online gamer. There was definitely a time when I tended to avoid online basketball gaming though, mostly because I wasn’t having a lot of great experiences. Dynasty Mode held a lot more appeal, especially since the CPU didn’t quit halfway through the fourth quarter if it was losing, and send me an abusive message. Also, while the AI could be incredibly cheap at times, there were fewer occasions when it lucked out with a laughably nonsensical and unlikely play to win the game; for example, taking the lead on a three-pointer from full court.
In a game against a random online opponent, I found myself holding onto a slim lead late in the fourth. It’s been a long time so I can’t remember which team they were using (I was playing with the Chicago Bulls), but what I do remember is that my opponent fired up a three from their own paint, presumably accidentally. As it turned out, it was a great play for them to make as the ball swished through the net, and I suddenly found myself trailing. The game was still winnable at that point, but it quickly slipped away when I couldn’t make a shot. As you can probably guess, that was quite infuriating after my opponent’s accidental long bomb.
2. Losing on a tip-in after the buzzer in NBA Live 2005
As I noted above, the AI in basketball games can be incredibly cheap at times. To that end, through all my years of basketball gaming, I have suffered more than a couple of tough losses at the hands of the CPU. Although they’ve been frustrating and on many occasions unlucky, generally speaking, the AI has technically still played by the rules. That wasn’t the case on one occasion though, in a game that took place in my NBA Live 2005 Dynasty with the Bulls. Towards the end of a hard fought contest against the Philadelphia 76ers, I made a couple of clutch plays with Ben Gordon and Eddy Curry to take a 95-93 lead with under five seconds left. Victory was at hand.
Or so it seemed, anyway. Philadelphia was out of timeouts, so Allen Iverson ran the ball up the floor, and fired up a shot from around midcourt. The buzzer sounded, the lights on the backboard lit up, and I lost control of my players as everyone began walking off the court. Everyone except Kenny Thomas that is, who attempted and made a tip-in that somehow counted to send the game into overtime. The 76ers made a couple of lucky shots in overtime to seal the win, which should’ve been mine in regulation. I’ve never encountered a glitch quite like that before or since, so it definitely ranks up there in terms of my unluckiest basketball gaming moments.
1. Losing a day’s work on a roster update
The worst luck I’ve had with basketball gaming didn’t happen during gameplay, but while I was modding. Although I’ve enjoyed making roster updates for various games in the NBA Live series over the years, I’ve always hated the post-Draft roster. That’s not to say that there isn’t creative satisfaction in it, but there are a lot of players to create, which is a long and tedious process. The last thing you want to happen after spending hours carefully creating players is to lose all of your hard work. That’s exactly what happened to me, when NBA Live 2004 randomly crashed while I was alt-tabbing between it and my browser, while looking up player information.
You may be wondering why I hadn’t made it a point to regularly save the roster after creating each player, or at the very least, every few players or so. It’s a great question, but as is often the case with hindsight, the thought is about as useful now as it was five minutes after it happened. It didn’t help that major drama erupted in the Forum that same day, which was very unpleasant and stressful to deal with. We did manage to move past that and I would also finish the roster, taking extra care to treat it like an old school adventure game: saving early, and often. That unexpected and unexplained crash that cost me a day of work easily tops this countdown of bad luck.
What have been some of your unluckiest moments in basketball gaming? Let me know 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.