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 recalling the time that I received a scoop about MyCAREER in NBA 2K16, which I ultimately didn’t publish.
Back in July of 2015, we were all awaiting further previews and details of what to expect from NBA 2K16. There had been rumours that MyCAREER would include some college gameplay, due to the leaked achievement list and research unearthing a licensing agreement between 2K Sports and the Collegiate Licensing Company. As screenshots continued to leak, it seemed increasingly likely that MyCAREER would indeed feature a collegiate career as part of its story. By September, trailers confirmed those details for Spike Lee’s MyCAREER joint, “Livin’ Da Dream“.
Although I was posting rumours and confirmed details alike as they made the rounds, there was one post that I didn’t make. An anonymous source sent me a scoop via the NLSC’s contact form, offering up snippets of information on what to expect from the MyCAREER story in NBA 2K16. Obviously anyone covering video games enjoys being able to break news and confirm rumours, but I was hesitant, and ultimately elected not to post a bulletin discussing those details. Why did I make that choice? Let’s take a look back…way back…
First of all, let’s recap the email. My source insisted that they couldn’t tell me their name and that I not post their email verbatim, but assured me that it was confirmed insider info. While it probably wouldn’t matter now if I posted the entire message or mentioned their pseudonym, I’ll honour the request as if it were just being sent to me. Basically, the scoop outlined the story as beginning with high school games, playing for one of four generic schools. After choosing a real school to attend, a short college career would follow, before finally making it to the NBA. It also mentioned a “well-written” story and a scene of Freq “jokingly” shooting around with a female character.
So, how accurate was the scoop? Well, leaked screenshots circulating the day that I received the email confirmed that “Livin’ Da Dream” would indeed begin in high school, though not the number of schools or games. As it turned out, the email was right about there being three high school games, but incorrect about there being four schools (there were only three). The college portion of the story did indeed involve a short stint with one of ten real schools. Your opinion may vary on the assessment of “well-written”, but “Livin’ Da Dream” did have great production values. The cutscene referenced was likely one with Freq’s sister, not his mother as the email speculated.
In other words, it would’ve been quite an accurate scoop, give or take a couple of details that were off by a number, and speculation on story and characters. With that in mind, why didn’t I run it? I could’ve obviously posted disclaimers noting that it had been a tip that was sent in, and still subject to confirmation. It certainly lined up with rumours that were swirling, so it would’ve been low-risk had I handled it responsibly. The problem is that I had no way of verifying the anonymous source, and considered it could be someone making up details based on rumours that were already out in the wild. Even with a disclaimer, it may well appear as if I were making up clickbait.
Looking back at the email today, it reads as though it were written by someone who attended some sort of early preview or community event, which would explain why they wanted to remain anonymous; if that were the case, they were likely under an NDA. It would also explain the incorrect number of high schools and speculation on the cutscene. They may have simply misremembered or jotted it down incorrectly, and seen the scene out of context. Posting their message verbatim might have led to them being identified, as any 2K reps they were in communication with may have recognised the way they write. They didn’t sound like a journalist or a producer.
The lack of identification and credentials, along with the tone and the fact that it could’ve easily been a fabrication based on rumours that had already been reported, gave me pause. Reading through the email again for this article, I also noticed that in describing the cutscene, when the anonymous source speculates that the character seen with Freq is possibly his mother, she’s referred to as his “mum”. This is the correct Australian and British spelling, but the American spelling is “mom”. It may not mean anything, or it may be a clue that the scoop was a lucky guess, or perhaps second-hand insider information. It’s something I hadn’t picked up on until now.
Another thought that occurred to me at the time is that the minor errors in the scoop were deliberate, in order to obfuscate the source’s identity; or perhaps, to test me? In the years since that email arrived in my inbox, I’ve wondered if it was intended to be a secret test to determine if I was trustworthy and responsible in reporting both news and rumours. It seems like a paranoid idea, and yet, it would definitely be a clever way of appraising one’s character. Similarly, it would be an effective way for 2K to weed out a leaker by sharing slightly erroneous information and seeing if it ended up out in the wild. Again, it’s a paranoid thought, but it would make for a spicier tale.
That brings me to what was probably the deciding factor in not running the scoop. On top of being unsure of its validity and wary of publishing anything that could turn out to be speculation or misinformation, I didn’t want to get anyone in trouble; namely, two friends and former members of the NLSC Team. Leftos had been hired by 2K in 2013, and JaoSming was now a producer on NBA 2KTV, having joined 2K in 2014. If the scoop was accurate, and 2K was keeping tabs on any leaks, they might assume that I’d received the info from one of them. They had nothing to worry about there, but if they had come to that conclusion, I could’ve cost my friends their dream jobs.
At the end of the day, only reporting on the rumours that were already making the rounds, and not doing anything with the scoop I’d been sent, felt like the responsible thing to do. Do I regret it now? A little, yes. I still think my reasoning was sound and I did the right thing as far as being wary of information I couldn’t verify, and a scoop that could’ve potentially implicated my friends. However, it’s nice to be able to break news as well as simply share and aggregate it. We may be known more for modding, but I’ve also sought to set up interviews and get exclusives whenever we can. To that end, part of me wishes that I had run the scoop, in the most responsible way possible.
I also could’ve tried to follow up with the anonymous source, but based on the email address they used for the contact form, it’s likely that my reply would’ve just bounced. If that person happens to be reading this, I’m sorry I didn’t trust you; or perhaps, I passed your test after all? Either way, I might approach the situation differently now, as it’s always tempting to share a scoop. It’s not something that eats away at me, and I stand by my reasons for not running the story, but it’s something that I reflect upon every preview season. Unfortunately, I haven’t been sent any tips like that since, which may well be a by-product of my lack of trust and willingness to take a chance.
So be it. It’s a missed opportunity, but also a learning experience and a story to tell all these years later. The identity of that anonymous source is a tantalising mystery for me, though: a mostly accurate report from an unidentified insider, using Australian spelling, and apparently coming from an IP address in Oman. Between a pseudonym, probable VPN, and possibly some careful tweaks of the details, our mysterious insider managed to cover their tracks quite well. On the other hand, they may be someone who made a very lucky guess based on rumours that were widely reported at the time. Almost five years later, the scoop was right, but its back story remains a mystery.