What’s that? A surprise edition of The Sunday Substitute to start the new year? With the next generation of consoles here, I’ve decided to reflect on my PS4 MyCAREER experiences and rank them from worst to best.
MyCAREER has been a part of my basketball video game experience ever since I first picked up the mode in NBA 2K10, back when it was called My Player. However, it wasn’t until I purchased my PS4 that I played the game annually (except for NBA 2K18). During my run on PS4, I made a conscious decision to make each MyCAREER experience unique. For this reason, I played a different position for each game.
Every situation had its strengths and weaknesses, but some stood out more than others. So, I’m going to rank each of my last five MyCAREER campaigns on PS4 from worst to best. Let’s get this show on the road!
#5: Shooting Guard – Two-Way Pass-First Guard (NBA 2K20)
A leftie shooting guard with a flair for driving to the hoop and making flashy passes? Surely this would have been the best MyCAREER experience of all time, right?
There were a few things that didn’t sit right about this experience, including getting a DNP in the opening game and the shameless Beats promotions. Ultimately, though, the biggest flaw of this campaign was that I was playing in the wrong position. I felt like I unlocked my player’s limitless potential when I shifted to point guard after Dejounte Murray’s injury. However, this stint was short-lived since 2K often wants to revert to default rotations in MyCAREER. I never felt particularly invested in my teammates either – and if this image is anything to go by, DeMar DeRozan didn’t like me much either.
The most fun I had with this build was online; and with all due respect to Andrew, Q and zzcoolj21, who were all great teammates, that’s never a good sign. I played my one season with San Antonio sporadically, partly due to my woeful perimeter shooting. Yet, despite shooting only 25% from beyond the arc, my raw stats across the board were impressive, and I managed to win a title with the post-big-three Spurs.
#4: Centre – Rebounding Rim Protector (NBA 2K19)
After skipping NBA 2K18, I returned to the NLSC squad in NBA 2K19. I created a 7’3” behemoth in the hope of solving an ongoing problem we were having online; rebounding. While it certainly helped our overall paint presence, it ultimately meant I was taken away from the three-point game, something I previously excelled in. This centre build, however, was dominant in MyCAREER. Single-game and regular-season block records tumbled, and quadruple doubles were commonplace; I even managed a few 5×10 games. Not many NBA players stood a chance when I was patrolling the paint.
In this iteration of MyCAREER, I had arguably my favourite sidekick in Trae Young and enjoyed greater control during team takeovers. With that said, the experience was ultimately soured by a server glitch on game seven of the NBA Finals that cost me the championship. Indeed, after winning the game originally, I had to play it again, and I ultimately lost. I think it says a lot about my patience that I not only returned to the mode but also won the championship in the following season. A weird continuity error in the story was also jarring, as a stint for the Los Angeles Lakers late in the previous season meant my rookie season for the Hawks was actually my sophomore season.
Another point against this player was that I had limited success online. Sure, he was a beast on the boards and blocking shots, but constantly missing layups wears you down after a while. What’s more, NBA 2K19 was the game that essentially disbanded the NLSC squad due to our lack of enjoyment and gatekeeper nature of 2K PRO-AM, so that was also quite a downer.
#3: Small Forward – Lockdown Perimeter Defender (NBA 2K16)
There was a lot to love about my NBA 2K16 MyCAREER. The prospect of helping Dirk Nowitzki win one last ring, having my most balanced build and a generally likeable team all made this an unforgettable MyCAREER.
Being my debut MyCAREER on PS4, this campaign had a lot of firsts: my first 2K PRO-AM experience, my first MyCAREER story, as well as the first – and only – time I changed teams in a PS4 MyCAREER. After Dirk Nowitzki retired, I jumped ship to the Memphis Grizzlies, where I achieved similar success with Marc Gasol and company. Overall, I played seven seasons, which is by far and away the most I’ve played of any MyCAREER on this list.
One of the more pleasing aspects of this campaign was how my player evolved. Originally, he was a purely athletic finisher who could defend three or four positions. Later in his career, he developed a jumpshot and became a spot-up shooter. It was quite similar to Vince Carter’s career trajectory.
So, with all these compliments I have, why does this MyCAREER peak at the third position on this list? To sum it up quickly: Livin’ Da Dream. Having an entire first season on rails denied me the opportunity of winning Rookie of the Year.
It also made me feel like I was watching someone else’s story unfold, instead of a career that was uniquely my own. Plus, there were numerous decisions that my player made that I didn’t agree with. For example, I wanted him to stay in college, and I sure as hell didn’t want him lending Vic his car (or hanging out with him at all, for that matter). While novel at the time, the unskippable story in NBA 2K16 detracted from this experience a lot.
That being said, the freedom you’re allowed from the second season onwards – along with the lower barrier for entry in 2K PRO-AM – made this experience a worthy third place.
#2: Point Guard – Two-Way Finisher (NBA 2K21)
Can a fun MyCAREER come from an otherwise underwhelming NBA 2K game? While I believe NBA 2K21 is arguably one of the laziest iterations of the 2K series – at least on PS4 – I found this MyCAREER campaign enjoyable enough to take the second spot on my list.
For my PS4 swansong, I decided to round out my starting lineup with a super-athletic point guard, after I figured out that it was my preferred guard position in NBA 2K20. I created ‘Junior’ in the mould of bigger point guards I’ve enjoyed over the years, like Jason Kidd, Deron Williams and Andre Miller, with the athleticism of Russell Westbrook and Lonzo Ball. Unfortunately, that meant I had to sacrifice some shooting touch.
Although this MyCAREER shared commonalities with other experiences, it was a slower burn. I didn’t really start putting up the gaudy numbers until the second half of the season – and up until that point, my Knicks were a sub-500 team. In fact, I likely had more 50-point games scored against me thanks to some shoddy defensive mechanics NBA 2K21 was plagued with early on (and possibly my lack of badges). Swallowing my pride and accepting my defensive liabilities – whether they were my fault or not – was a challenge in itself that I hadn’t experienced before. Like the other campaigns, though, I managed to overcome these limitations and win an NBA Championship…with the New York Knicks!
Unlike previous games, I decided to skip all the cut scenes in NBA 2K21, which I believe added to my enjoyment. I know a lot of work goes into stories, but by my fifth MyCAREER, I was burnt out on them. While I was still affected by the story, thanks to the Knicks drafting Hendrixx Cobb, it at least didn’t derail my entire rookie season.
#1: Power Forward – Stretch Big (NBA 2K17)
Arguably the best NBA 2K game of the generation also produced my favourite MyCAREER campaign. Initially, it was jarring going from my athletic small forward to a more grounded power forward – especially online. That being said, this was a perfect storm in terms of MyCAREER, online play and general memorability.
First, NBA 2K17 had a far less invasive MyCAREER story with likable characters, such as Justice Young and Denver Levins. The combination your player forms with Young (Orange Juice, Haha!) brought a fun takeover innovation in the game where you controlled the duo. While this feature expanded in NBA 2K19 – where you could take control of all five players – in NBA 2K17, it gave you a real sense that you had a partner in crime. Creating a power forward was also a great complement for Young and Levins since they both played the point, so I felt I lucked out with my decision there as well.
Ultimately though, it was the personal highlights that set this experience apart from the rest. This was the campaign where I set my PRO-AM scoring record of 64 points in a single game, hit a game-winning shot that made NBA 2KTV and had a seemingly unstoppable baseline drive. My likeness from this game even became an unlockable player in Namo Gamo’s Basketball Classics. Let’s face it, that alone is reason enough why my other MyCAREER experiences aren’t even close to this one.
Unfortunately, with the current state of NBA 2K and its shooting mechanics, I feel this Kevin Love/Paul Millsap/Larry Bird inspired build won’t be viable for future games. I can’t make outside shots with any consistency online that would make me suitable in this type of role, so I’ll likely lean towards making athletic defenders. However, I’ll always look back at this experience as one of the most enjoyable I’ve had in any basketball video game.
What were your most memorable MyCAREER experiences in NBA 2K? Do you like playing the same positions or are you the complete opposite of me? Let me know in the comments below!