The Friday Five: 5 More Basketball Video Game Easter Eggs

The Friday Five

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Friday Five! This is a feature that I post every Friday in which I give my thoughts on a topic that’s related to basketball video games, the real NBA or another area of interest to our community, either as a list of five items or in the form of a Top 5 countdown.

It’s been a couple of years since I compiled a list of some of the cool things that we’ve found while playing basketball video games, as well as poking around in their files. Seeing as though Easter is upon us once again, I thought it’d only be appropriate to take a look at five more Easter Eggs that we’ve discovered over the years.

Secrets and Easter Eggs definitely add fun to video games, rewarding us for exploring every nook and cranny of the game world, going off the beaten track and trying something outlandish, or on a more meta level, hunting through the game’s data files. Sports games aren’t necessarily jam packed with them – or at least, their Easter Eggs aren’t usually as wild, wacky, or creative as other game genres – but there’s usually something interesting to find, be it dummied out content, leftover files, or something completely unexpected. Let’s take a look at another five basketball video game Easter Eggs that you may or may not be aware of.

1. Barack Obama Coaches Teams in NBA 2K

Barack Obama in NBA 2K12

Upon being sworn into office back in 2009, Barack Obama made history as the first black President of the United States of America. Just two years later, he would make history again as he became the first US President to coach an NBA team. Alright, alright, April Fool’s Day was a couple of days ago. It was actually his virtual counterpart in NBA 2K12 and beyond that made the unlikely jump from the Oval Office to the NBA sidelines.

President Obama was added to NBA 2K12 as part of a slideshow which appeared during the offseason in Association and My Player, featuring the NBA Champions visiting the White House. Data for his in-game model was stored in the roster alongside the coaches, similar to David Stern’s presence in coaches.dbf in NBA Live 2004, for use in the game’s Dynasty Mode cutscenes. As such, he’d sometimes show up on the sidelines when a team fired their head coach, and subsequently hired a new one. Not exactly realistic, but certainly an amusing Easter Egg.

2. The different shootaround “teams” in NBA Live 10

The Hangar in NBA Live 10

NBA Live 10’s “Hangar” was designed to be the ultimate pick-up game and practice gym, and it certainly turned out to be a cool design. I liked it so much, I even dabbled in making some court updates, re-creating it as best I could in NBA Live 08. Whenever you fired up the game or exited back to the main menu, you’d find yourself in The Hangar with a group of players shooting around. By pressing the pass button, you could switch between them, but you couldn’t choose to shoot around with a player who wasn’t already on the court.

Of course, you did get a variety of players to choose from, as there were a few different groups which you’d find out on the court every time you returned to The Hangar. Upon starting the game, cover player Dwight Howard was joined by LeBron James (who greets him as he walks onto the court) and other All-Stars, including Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade. A closer look at the other players who would come together to shoot around reveals that the groupings weren’t exactly random. From Draft classes to shoe brands, the “teams” were assembled according to a common theme or criteria, a subtle detail that you don’t necessarily pick up on until you pay close attention to all the players on the floor.

3. The Developer Console in NBA Live 2003 & 2004 PC

Using the Developer Console in NBA Live 2003

I’ve talked about this one in a Dumb Mondays article, but it’s definitely worth mentioning on a list of Easter Eggs. Developer consoles aren’t exactly uncommon in other genres of video games, but there generally isn’t a great deal of use for them in sports titles. I’m also counting them as an Easter Egg in NBA Live 2003 and NBA Live 2004, since you needed to edit a config file to enable them in the first place.

So, once you’ve enabled the console and brought it up in-game using the tilde key, what can you do with it? Well, not a whole lot, compared to other types of games at least. It’s not like there’s a God Mode or Infinite Ammo code to take advantage of. However, you can enable and disable various graphical elements such as overlays, players, and even the basketball, which you may find handy when taking screenshots. Playing with invisible players also ramps up the challenge somewhat.

4. NBA Live 08 PC has NBA Live 07 PC’s Intro Video

Gilbert Arenas in NBA Live 08

That is to say, NBA Live 07’s intro.vp6 file is present in NBA Live 08’s movies folder. As you probably know if you’ve played NBA Live 08 on PC, the game doesn’t actually have an intro video, aside from the EA Sports “It’s in the game” branding which can be replaced if you want to add a custom intro. However, NBA Live 07’s intro made it onto the NBA Live 08 disc, though the game ignores the file.

I discovered this one while looking through the .vp6 files from various PC versions of NBA Live, in search of videos that I could put up on the NLSC’s YouTube channel; game intros, control tutorials, and the like. Finding the intro.vp6 in the NBA Live 08 movies folder, I thought I’d check it out in case it was an unused intro, similar to the attract mode video for NBA Live 2004 which was used in trailers (and was obviously meant to be an intro video, before they recorded the clips with real players). No such luck, however…just the intro from NBA Live 07, presumably a placeholder that wasn’t removed after it was decided there’d be no intro video for NBA Live 08 PC.

5. Documents in the NBA Live Game Folders on PC

Chris Webber in NBA Live 2001

Finding leftover assets and data has greatly aided us in creating some nifty patches for basketball video games. Whether it’s art files, audio, or half-finished content that was dummied out of the final release, we love finding it and putting it to good use. In fact, I’m doing just that with the Ultimate Jordan roster I’m currently working on. However, sometimes you find a few other interesting files while digging through the game folders. The first one I’ll mention here is a useless but amusing text file from NBA Live 08’s player art folder, containing a bug report/development note from one of the programmers regarding missing player faces.

There are also some more useful documents in the game folders, including readme files. They’re mostly comprised of technical and troubleshooting information, but they also include some helpful overviews of Franchise and Dynasty Mode. NBA Live 2000 and NBA Live 2001 actually took it a step further, with separate files that provided a more detailed guide to the features of Franchise Mode, as well as a few tips for success. Granted, shortcuts to these files were actually added when installing the games, but somehow, a lot of gamers seemed to overlook them anyway. Reading manuals also seems to be an antiquated practice these days, so I’ll still call them Easter Eggs…albeit ones that are hiding in plain sight.

Do you remember any of these Easter Eggs? What are some other secrets and hidden content in basketball video games that comes to mind? 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, and please join me again next Friday for another Five.

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April 4, 2015 3:29 am

Wasn’t there an NBA player that died and had his cyberface used for one of the referees?

January 24, 2017 10:35 pm
Reply to  Andrew

this is a 1-year bump but yeah right, jason collier’s face as a referee in nba live 07