Welcome to another edition of The Sunday Substitute! This is an occasional end-of-week feature where I share my experiences in basketball gaming, as well as give my two cents on certain issues within the space. Today I resume with Part 2 of The MyPLAYER Transaction Report.
The MyPLAYER Transaction Report is a series where I chronicle my career campaigns in basketball video games. Whether it’s one game or a thousand games, every stop along the way counts. So far, I’ve played for 28 teams…try and guess the last two I haven’t played for!
This second part is arguably the golden era of this series. It includes some of my greatest moments in career stories and my first foray into an alternate build. NBA Live also debuts in this edition, with NBA Live 16 and 18 providing career modes that could have been a great foundation for the series moving forward.
Let’s start by continuing with a build I mention in Part 1.
The Memphis Grizzlies Sign Freq – NBA 2K16
Continuing from Part 1 is the only time I switched teams during the PS4 era of NBA 2K. Looking back, I wish I had moved around a bit more. It certainly would have made this project a lot easier! For a refresher, this is another one of my 6’5″ small forwards – arguably the GOAT of this archetype from a personal standpoint.
When Dirk Nowitzki retired, I jumped ship with the Memphis Grizzlies. The grit-and-grind Grizzlies were a great fit for me, as this player became known for his hard-nosed play. In fact, I often committed flagrant fouls online and set screens of borderline legality.
There was a good combination of young talent (by way of generated rookies) and likeable veterans to make this championship run an enjoyable one. Marc Gasol and Mike Conley represented the last remaining members from that grit-and-grind era, while Shaun Livingston and Josh McRoberts were along for the ride as well.
All in all, this ended up being a great tale of a competitive team getting the last piece to get over the hump and become an NBA champion.
The New York Knicks Draft the Rising Star – NBA Live 16
My shooting guard in NBA Live 16 found his home on the pro-am court more than the league, thanks to the demo. Since I was worried about input lag, I made this shooting guard more of a slasher than a shooter, and I did manage to dunk on a few people in the streets. When I picked up the full game, I played a few games with the Knicks, but I didn’t stick with this one for long. In the 18 games I played, I averaged 24.9 points on 53.9% shooting.
The superior popularity of NBA 2K meant that none of my friends were really playing NBA Live 16, and 2K PRO-AM was still a draw for me back at this time. As a result, there wasn’t a great incentive for me to persist with this one. However, I was impressed with a few features of NBA Live 16, including the player progression system.
This was also the first game where I really nailed the face scan. When this happens, you feel like you’re really in the game. EA was seriously ahead of the curve when it came to this technology on mobile devices, and it’s an aspect where it left 2K in the dust. Unfortunately, there were several other areas where EA’s basketball titles were left behind.
The Chicago Bulls Draft Prez – NBA 2K17
I listed this MyCAREER campaign as my favourite in my Worst to Best list, and to this day, nothing really holds a candle to it. Although he was listed as a Stretch Big, Prez was one of my most all-around builds. He could shoot, do those cheesy baseline drives, grab rebounds and help anchor a defence. Even at a time when power forwards and centres online were maxing out their heights and wingspans, I didn’t feel too disadvantaged with this 6’9″ Kevin Love/Paul Millsap-inspired build…maybe a little on the boards.
I also must commend 2K on its MyCAREER story in NBA 2K17. While I’d still prefer not to have a story, this game probably had the best possible version of the concept. The characters – most notably, Justise Young and Denver Levins – were well-written. Most importantly, they weren’t completely insufferable either. The Takeover mode with the Orange Juice combination was also an innovative feature that made the narrative worthwhile. I guess my takeaway from 2K17 is if you want to include a story, do something engaging with it. Don’t just make it a collection of cut scenes.
The story aside, it’s the highlights from this MyCAREER that made it the most memorable. Whether it’s the 64-point game, the game-winner or the fact he’s unlockable in Namo Gamo’s Basketball Classics, it’s hard to argue against this being my most iconic MyPLAYER.
The Philadelphia 76ers Draft The One – NBA Live 18
NBA 2K18 was my first “break year” from the 2K series since NBA 2K14. My decision was made by a combination of not having high hopes for the title or the budget to justify two full-priced NBA games. As a result, I chose to play NBA Live 18 exclusively – a decision I stand by today.
After years of The NLSC PRO-AM team getting bullied by bigger players, I made a Post Anchor centre to fight fire with fire. However, instead of making a 7-foot-plus cheeser, I accidentally made my centre undersized at 6’8”, thanks to Live’s insistence on the metric system. It ultimately didn’t matter all that much, though. I didn’t take this build online a lot, and even when I did, I remember holding my own quite well as someone who crashed the boards.
Meanwhile, in The League, I was drafted first overall by the Philadelphia 76ers, which eventually pushed Joel Embiid over to the power forward position due to my superior overall rating of 98 (Embiid’s rating was 92 at the time). It also made sense since he had the three-ball in his game, and I didn’t. Of course, with the position-less basketball of today, you could argue that it doesn’t really matter.
Looking back, I played a few seasons with this build. My best 82-game season included averages of 28 points, 10.6 rebounds and 2.2 blocks. Yet, despite some stellar numbers, I could never pick up the MVP trophy with this player. However, according to my PSN profile, I do have the “Getting the Ring” trophy. Perhaps this version of The One falls into the “best players without an MVP award” category.
The Portland Trail Blazers Draft The One – NBA Live 18 (Secondary Build)
In recent games, I often create alternate builds to unlock trophies my primary build couldn’t achieve. For example, a glass-cleaning centre might have trouble hitting one three-point shot in a game, let alone five. This build was slightly different, though, as I needed to win the MVP during a regular season for the “Joining the Elite” trophy. Rather than commit to another 82-game season, playing 35+ minutes per outing, I made a Stretch Big and played a more compact season on a lower difficulty.
My power forward was drafted 10th overall by the Portland Trail Blazers in 2017. This time I didn’t short-change him on height, making him 6’11”. I also decided to give him a hairstyle I had in my late teens. Unlike current 2K games, NBA Live 18 lets you do that with your secondary player without changing the look of your previous build. It doesn’t sound like much, but it’s a small thing that helps differentiate my players.
In a “lockout-shortened” 29-game season with five-minute quarters, I averaged 27.6 points, 4.4 rebounds and just shy of 1 block a game. These numbers were good enough to pick up both the MVP and Rookie of the Year awards in 2018 and a 24-5 record on the season. Yes, the purist in me thinks this was a cheap way to win an MVP trophy. However, it’s also the only time I completed a season with a secondary build – albeit a shortened one. That deserves a little bit of credit, right?
I also managed to get this second player to 85 overall. It’s a testament to NBA Live’s more forgiving player progression system – it wasn’t reliant on tempting its users into microtransactions. I’m hoping EA will continue this goodwill when they eventually put out another NBA title.
There it is; another MyPLAYER Transaction Report is in the books! In the next instalment, I will detail my career campaigns between NBA 2K19 and the PS4 version of NBA 2K21. Thank you once again for following me along this journey, and I hope you can join me for Part 3.