Wayback Wednesday: I Cannot Believe My Starting Five

Kevin Garnett dunks in NBA Live 2001

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 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.

The current NLSC Forum has been open since November 2002, archiving almost all of the discussion that’s taken place in this community for just about as long as we’ve had a message board. It’s seen its fair share of memorable and amusing threads, including users who believe modders owe them releases, unorthodox story threads, and one-sided conversations. It would also be remiss of me if I didn’t mention this thread, which gave our community a meme that is proudly displayed in the Joel Anthony Arena, home court of the NLSC Greatness in 2K Pro-Am.

However, for those of you who have been around the NLSC since the early days, you’ll remember that we used to have another Forum. It was closed when we elected to switch to different message board software, but I’m confident that it lives on in the fond memories of our longest tenured veterans. It was a smaller group of regulars who came together on those old boards, had a lot of fun discussions, and basically established our community of NLSC Forum denizens.

For those veterans, when it comes to memorable discussions, one thread probably stands out above all others: “I Cannot Believe My Starting Five”. Let’s take a look back…way back…

In that old black and blue NLSC Forum, there was a poster whose handle was A.L. A.L. began a Franchise Mode game in NBA Live 2001, using the fantasy draft option. After making his selections and a few subsequent trades, he was left with a starting lineup of Marc Jackson (the centre, not Mark Jackson the point guard, despite the spelling he used), Elton Brand, Tracy McGrady, Allen Iverson, and Kevin Garnett. Notably, he placed KG at point guard, and claimed that it was his “natural position”. He went on to explain that it afforded him a huge advantage over opposing point guards.

A hyped Kevin Garnett in NBA Live 2001

The original post, spelling and grammatical errors intact, is as follows:

Hello all,

So anyway I am playing a custom team (redrafted all of the modern NBA players) and I had the fifth pick overall. What I hate about this part of the game is the fact that the draft goes from 1 to 29 and back to 1 again. Its so unfair to the other teams. This annoyed me in NBA 2000 and I was dissapointed that they did not change that. Anyway I picked Garnett at 5 overall and I picked the best players available thereafter.

After drafting my team, the computer ranked me the best overall. But I didn’t like the fact that my squad was a bit long in the tooth. So I put on my GM suit and went to work.

After all was said and done…I came out with a DREAM starting 5 for any long-term franchisee.

C – Mark Jackson, 25yrs old
PF – Elton Brand ,21 yrs old
SF – Tracy McGrady, 22 yrs old
SG – Allan Iverson, 26 yrs old
PG – Kevin Garnett, 26 yrs old

Yeah, I let KG play his “natural” possition. Besides, this way he overpowers other PG’s.

The problem with my team though is my bench, which consists of Marcus Fizer, Jonathan Bender and other future NBA prospects.

But that all doesnt matter…I am still scratching my head…on why the computer let me have such a dominating and impressive starting 5.

I am good for the next 10 seasons at least with those 5. Then I can work on my bench in that time span.

Anyway, Im thinking of starting over because I feel real bad about what I did to a machine that does not take into account FUTURE VALUE.

Anyone else here feel bad about ripping off the computer?

Now, A.L. was clearly intending to draw attention to deficiencies in the drafting and trading logic in NBA Live 2001, as well as talk about a lineup that he was having some fun with. As you might expect, however, most posters were drawn to his statement that Kevin Garnett’s natural position was point guard, and vehemently disagreed. A.L. defended his assertion, and the issue of point forwards and oversized point guards briefly took over the thread. After continuing to get more and more defensive, A.L. ended up leaving the thread after tossing out a couple of scathing remarks at those who incredulously disagreed about KG’s point guard credentials.

Tracy McGrady dunks in NBA Live 2001

On one hand, it’s unfortunate that the community zeroed in on one aspect of his post. Issues with the drafting and trading logic were a legitimate topic of discussion, and he obviously had a fun idea, too. At the same time, his stubborn insistence about KG’s “natural position” didn’t do him any favours, as it was a ludicrous claim that couldn’t be backed up. Had A.L. chosen different phrasing – perhaps stating that he’d put together a lineup where he tried playing KG at point guard, and found it surprisingly effective and fun – then the conversation probably wouldn’t have been derailed. After all, it is an interesting idea, and it’s fun to try things like that in basketball games.

Still, while a potentially interesting discussion was lost due to that argument, the thread that “I Cannot Believe My Starting Five” evolved into was probably more enjoyable for all concerned (except A.L., of course). When it was clear that the original topic had been completely derailed, it became a thread where we all made jokes, posted alternate starting fives (which were intentionally terrible), and basically talked about anything and everything else. From ASCII art to Keith Closs’s benching for not having enough bulk to play centre in the early 2000s NBA, the thread covered it all. Well, everything except the original topic, anyway.

Eventually, the thread reached a thousand posts. That may not sound like anything noteworthy as other message boards have had much longer threads, and we’ve had quite a few threads top the thousand post mark in our current NLSC Forum. However, it was a rarity in the old Forum; in fact, unless my memory is failing me, it was possibly the only one, or at least one of the very few, to reach that milestone. I remember the race for the thousandth post being something of an exciting event, a fun game running alongside the other discussions that were taking place therein and elsewhere in the NLSC Forum.

Allen Iverson dribbles the basketball in NBA Live 2001

There have been attempts to replicate “I Cannot Believe My Starting Five” – mostly parody threads – but frankly, it’s not something that can be manufactured. These things have to happen organically, and in 2016, a Forum thread reaching a thousand posts isn’t really much of an event. When similar threads have popped up, the fun has usually been over and done with much sooner. As a result, the infamous “Starting Five” thread is a relic of its era, but a fond memory for some of us old-timers nevertheless. And you know what? I might just have to go back and play a game of NBA Live 2001 with KG at point guard. Maybe A.L. was on to something…

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