This is Wayback Wednesday, your midweek blast from the past! In this feature, we dig into the archives, look back at the history of basketball gaming, and indulge in some nostalgia. Check in every Wednesday for retrospectives and other features on older versions of NBA Live, NBA 2K, and old school basketball video games in general. You’ll also find old NLSC editorials re-published with added commentary, and other flashback content. This week, I’m taking a look back at the fictional Golden State Warriors jersey that appeared in a couple of NBA Live games.
I replaced my Xbox 360 last week, after the optical drive failed in my old console. It’s good timing too, as I need to fire up the NBA Live games from that generation to get a few screenshots and check a few details as we tip off our 25th Anniversary of NBA Live content this month. Beyond that, I get to dust off a few games I haven’t played in a while and enjoy them again. For example, I haven’t played NBA Live 10 much since I covered The Hangar in a previous Wayback Wednesday feature. Messing around with it as I tested my replacement console, I remembered what a solid release it was.
While I was spending some time with NBA Live 10, I also remembered the fictional jersey that was available for the Golden State Warriors. It originally appeared in NBA Live 09, and was an exclusive to EA Sports’ basketball series. What’s the story behind this unusual alternate home uniform? I know that JaoSming covered it in a Dumb Mondays article some years back, but hey, it deserves the Wayback treatment as well. With that in mind, let’s take a look back…way back…
The jersey is a unique design to say the least. Rather than a traditional wordmark, the Warriors’ secondary logo is placed centre on the chest. The front is predominantly white with “Warriors” spelled out in blue and adorned by a lightning bolt, running vertically up to the right shoulder. The left shoulder is coloured gold, while a blue wave design wraps around the jersey at the waist. The side trims of the jersey are black and blue, while the shorts have trims that are gold at the side and blue at the back. The blue numbers are off-centre on the front, and slightly overlap the wave design on the back of the uniform. Suffice to say, it certainly stands out.
Of course, as I noted right out of the gate, the Golden State Warriors never wore this jersey in real life. It was in fact the winning entry in a custom jersey contest run by EA Sports to celebrate the launch of NBA Live 08. The winner, Adelphotes, not only got to see their design added as free downloadable content in NBA Live 09 (and then subsequently grandfathered into NBA Live 10), but also won an autographed Gilbert Arenas jersey and six EA Sports titles. The runner-up snagged five EA Sports games, while the third-placed contestant won a copy of NBA Live 08. There were more than 30,000 entries in the contest, with the best spotlighted in a gallery.
With all due respect to Adelphotes and their winning design, which was titled “Gold Standard”, it wasn’t necessarily the best entry. There were a lot of wild and wacky ideas submitted for the contest, with team logos replacing the wordmark in a lot of entries. Funnily enough, that’s something we’ve seen more of with alternate jerseys in the real NBA in recent years. Unfortunately the Wayback Machine at archive.org hasn’t preserved the entire gallery, but from the pages that are available, you can get an idea of the community’s submissions. Personally, while I’m obviously biased, I’d have to agree with JaoSming that our own Pdub’s design should’ve won.
Nevertheless, it was the Gold Standard Golden State Warriors jersey that won the contest. Interestingly, although the in-game version of the jersey was quite faithful to the original design in NBA Live 09, it was modified slightly in NBA Live 10. The gold parts of the original jersey were coloured orange in NBA Live 10, though the rest of the design remains the same. The front number placement also doesn’t match the preview seen on the jersey selection screen in NBA Live 09, where it appears within the gold on the left shoulder. On the actual uniform, it appears further down in both games. As the original entry had no front numbers, EA obviously took some liberties.
Whatever your opinion of this fictional Warriors jersey may be, it was still cool to see it in Live. Outside of mods on PC, it was rare to see fictional content, and indeed, it’s one of the few times that we’ve seen user-created assets officially included in a game. It was obviously a marketing gimmick to get gamers talking about NBA Live at a time when the series was beginning to lose the lead in sales to NBA 2K, but that doesn’t mean that it wasn’t a fun idea as well. Aside from the possibility of winning some freebies for doing little more than messing around with the provided creation tools, you could brag about having something you created included in a major title.
To that end, it’s interesting that neither EA nor 2K Sports has resurrected this idea in the years since. I imagine that there would be a lot more than 30,000 entries these days, and with the rebranding tools in NBA 2K in particular, we could see some really great designs that would be fun to have as official extras. At the same time, the fact that it’s a fictional jersey might be off-putting, clashing with the realistic approach. Then again, 2K has added Isaiah Austin and Make-a-Wish kids, demonstrating that there are times when it’s fine to forego realism and accuracy. If nothing else, a contest to design alternates for the NBA 2K League should draw interest.
Looking back at these fictional Warriors jerseys, it also feels like they predicted the future. Golden State would return to their more traditional colour scheme a few years later, and while they haven’t adopted any waves on their uniforms, they’ve paid tribute to the Bay Area with other designs. I can’t help but think it’s similar in concept and tone to some of the City Edition jerseys we’ve seen since Nike took over. The City Edition jerseys have strived to be more creative and outside-the-box compared to the Association and Icon uniforms, and while the fictional Gold Standard jerseys don’t resemble any of the Warriors’ actual uniforms, they wouldn’t be too out of place now.
Little oddities like this are fun and fascinating to look back on, not only for details such as the striking design, but also the period in basketball gaming they represent. Contests like the one that saw this fictional Warriors jersey included in two games have been rare, and it left NBA Live 09 and NBA Live 10 with some unique content. I believe it’s important to remember that content and the story behind it, so that there’s no ambiguity or misinformation when someone encounters a screenshot and wonders “When did the Warriors wear that jersey?” Hopefully this feature, and JaoSming’s original Dumb Mondays article, can be resources that help clear up any confusion.
As for the fictional Warriors jersey itself, while I may have preferred Pdub’s custom Clippers jersey to get the nod, Adelphotes’ design was creative in its own right. I do enjoy the way it seemingly predicted the future with Golden State’s return to their old colour scheme, uniforms that replaced wordmarks with team logos, and some of the more outside-the-box designs we’ve seen for City Edition jerseys. With that in mind, perhaps we can say that they, and many of the other contest entries, were ahead of their time. If nothing else, it’s something to check out the next time that you dust off NBA Live 09 or NBA Live 10 for some retro basketball gaming.