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.
When posting bulletins about the NBA Champions around ten years ago, I included screenshots of the winning team taken from the current NBA Live game. With the standalone Playoffs mode, it was easy enough to fire up the PC version, load up the latest NLSC roster update, and sim through a postseason. Because NBA Live’s simulation engine could be unpredictable, I usually had to place star players on the injured reserve so that the appropriate teams could make it through to the NBA Finals, and the correct team then win the championship.
I usually held off on capturing the screenshots until the series was close to being decided, so that I could make sure the teams were playing in the correct venue (and in one instance, wearing the correct jerseys). I came across those old NBA Live championship screenshots while digging through my archives recently, and I thought that they’d be fun to share for this week’s Wayback Wednesday.
Let’s take a look back…way back…
Miami Heat in NBA Live 06
The first screenshot celebrates the Miami Heat’s championship victory in 2006. It marked the first time that an NBA Live cover player won the championship in the same year they were on the box. 2K Sports also achieved that distinction in 2006 as Shaquille O’Neal appeared on the cover of NBA 2K6, though with Dwyane Wade, NBA Live also had the NBA Finals Most Valuable Player. The screenshot I’m sharing is actually the second take, as the original had the Heat wearing their black road jerseys, whereas they wore their red alternates in the title-clinching Game 6. However, it seems that I didn’t hold onto that original screen for my archives.
San Antonio Spurs in NBA Live 07
The 2007 NBA Finals is historically significant, though not for all the right reasons. It was LeBron James’ first Finals, though his Cleveland Cavaliers were swept by the San Antonio Spurs, who won their fourth NBA championship. It was the first time Tim Duncan was not the Finals MVP, as that honour instead went to Tony Parker (who later graced the cover of NBA Live 09). As of 2016, it remains the lowest rated NBA Finals series to date, and I certainly remember it being rather underwhelming to watch. Perhaps that’s why I ended up creating such a small screenshot using NBA Live 07.
Boston Celtics in NBA Live 08
With the acquisitions of Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen, the Boston Celtics had one of the best single season turnarounds in league history in 2008. They won 42 more games than in the 2007 regular season, and made it through to the NBA Finals where they faced their old nemesis, the Los Angeles Lakers. Their renewed rivalry inspired many gamers to recall NBA Live’s predecessor, Lakers vs. Celtics and the NBA Playoffs, but NBA Live 08 PC was the game I used to capture the screenshot. A shot from the Xbox 360 version would’ve looked nicer, but getting one from the PC version was definitely much easier.
Unused NBA Live Championship Screenshots
On a couple of occasions, I prepared championship screenshots for teams that didn’t end up hoisting the Larry O’Brien trophy. The first was the Los Angeles Lakers in NBA Live 08. I had that screenshot ready to go, just in case the Lakers managed to come back and win the 2008 Finals on the road in Boston. As noted above, the Celtics ultimately took care of business, as they won Game 6 by 39 points; the second largest margin of victory in NBA Finals history, and the largest margin of victory in a title-clinching game.
I’d done the same thing a couple of years ago for the 2006 NBA Finals. The Dallas Mavericks won the first two games of that series, and it seemed that history was on their side. The tide turned however, and much to the chagrin of Mavericks fans (as well as of other observers who were dissatisfied with the officiating), the Heat came storming back, winning all three games in Miami. Nevertheless, with the possibility of a Game 7 in Dallas, I did prepare a screenshot of the Mavs winning the championship in NBA Live 06 PC.
I also have a screenshot of the Dallas Mavericks winning the championship in NBA Live 07. Glancing at the date on the file, I captured it in late April 2007, so it was most likely done to preview the 2007 Playoffs. The Mavs won 67 games that year and seemed poised to win it all after their crushing loss to the Heat the previous season, but they were infamously upset by the Golden State Warriors in the first round. Fortunately for Dirk Nowitzki, Mark Cuban, and Mavs fans everywhere, Dallas finally won the championship in 2011, defeating the Miami Heat and their big three of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh.
Although I’ve posted NBA Live screenshots during the last couple of NBA Finals on our Facebook and Twitter accounts, I haven’t gone to the trouble of setting up screens of the actual championship ceremony. With the standalone Playoffs mode back in NBA 2K17, however, it’s a tradition I might have to bring back this year.