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 some trivia for NBA Live 2000 and NBA Live 10.
Happy New Year, everyone! It’s strange to tip off a year with a retro feature, but it is Wednesday, and on Wednesdays we go way back. Speaking of which, as part of the lead up to the release of NBA Live 18 and NBA Live 19, I posted a couple of articles containing trivia facts about NBA Live 98 and NBA Live 08, and NBA Live 99 and NBA Live 09. I’d intended to do the same thing this year with NBA Live 2000 and NBA Live 10, ahead of the release of NBA Live 20. Of course, NBA Live 20 was ultimately cancelled, so I didn’t get an opportunity to do so back in September.
Looking back, I’m certainly glad I didn’t run it pre-emptively while we waited for that announcement! However, it seems like a waste of a good Wayback Wednesday idea to let it go, and of course, it all ties in to the 25th Anniversary of NBA Live content that we’re doing despite the series going on hiatus once again. With that in mind, here are the trivia facts I would’ve originally shared to celebrate the release of the third NBA Live game with a year ending in zero. Let’s take a look back…way back…
I realise that I’ve already flashed back to NBA Live 2000 quite recently with my retrospective for the 25th Anniversary of NBA Live, but it’s an opportunity to throw out some extra trivia that I may have left out of that feature. With that being said, let’s first take a look back at NBA Live 2000, a game that I’ve described as the crowning achievement of the original development team!
- Let’s begin with a well-known trivia fact. NBA Live 2000 is the first game in the series to officially include Legends. The 16-bit version of NBA Live 96 included a handful of Legends in so far as entering their name in Edit Player would automatically fill in their appropriate ratings and bio data. Legends were available by default in NBA Live 2000 PC, while a majority of them were unlockable via codes or completing tasks in the PlayStation release. Michael Jordan is the sole Legend available in the Nintendo 64 version, though a widely circulated fake code claimed Isiah Thomas was unlockable.
- Michael Jordan makes his first official appearance in the NBA Live series, after years of being completely absent or represented by a Roster Player. He did appear in EA Sports’ NBA Playoffs series, with his last appearance prior to NBA Live 2000 coming in NBA Showdown. His Airness has appeared in other EA games, including Michael Jordan in Flight – a PC exclusive – and the platform game Michael Jordan: Chaos in the Windy City. As with the other Legends in NBA Live 2000, he appeared in both the Decade All-Stars as a member of the 90s squad, and as a signable player in the Legends Pool.
- NBA Live 2000 saw the debut of Franchise mode, an experience that gamers had been clamouring for. It isn’t the deepest iteration of the mode, but it does have one unique feature that we haven’t seen since: the ability to either complete or cancel a trade after a CPU team accepts it. This meant that we could propose a trade and have it agreed upon in principle, but not have to go through with it unless we were absolutely sure. Although it was still advisable to save a Franchise before wheeling and dealing, this one last chance to back out of a trade meant that we didn’t necessarily have to restore from a save.
- It’s the first NBA Live to use licensed music: “Mothership Connection (Star Child)” by George Clinton, “All I Know” by Rahzel, “Hip Hop Hooray” by Nature by Nature, and “Don’t Stop” by Run-D.M.C. The only original track was “Shak’n the Floor“, by Rahzel and the NBA Live Orchestra. Contrary to recent games and even titles that came out shortly afterwards, only one of the licensed songs – “All I Know” – came out in 1999, the same year as NBA Live 2000. “Don’t Stop” and “Hip Hop Hooray” were released in 1990 and 1992 respectively, while “Mothership Connection (Star Child)” came out in 1975.
- Michael Jordan lent his name to the new 1-on-1 mode, and was one of the default players selected along with Tim Duncan, with whom he shared the cover by way of an insert. Defeating MJ was the only way of unlocking him into the Free Agent pool in the Nintendo 64 version. 1-on-1 games took place on a new outdoor court, and included both a Day and Night setting. Holding different shoulder buttons while pressing pass changed the way your player checked the ball (including rolling it along the ground to be picked up). This feature would last only a couple more games before it was removed.
- Although the East and West All-Stars are in the game for Franchise mode, there are no All-Star teams in the default rosters for exhibition play. This is due to the lockout of 1999 cancelling the All-Star Weekend in Philadelphia (Philly would get the 2002 Weekend instead). Funnily enough however, all of the players from the 1998 All-Star Game are in NBA Live 2000 – including Michael Jordan by way of his inclusion as one of the Legends – so the 1998 teams could’ve been retained from NBA Live 99 and included in their entirety, rather than using a Roster Player for the All-Star version of MJ as before.
- Although the PC version of NBA Live 99 had received two official roster updates along with a bug fix patch, NBA Live 2000 didn’t receive any official patches. Compared to its predecessor, the game didn’t have too many glaring faults that needed to be resolved via a patch, but given that some key players like Ron Harper were missing from the PC release due to having a different roster cut-off date to the console versions, it would’ve been handy to have an official roster update for the beginning of the season and trade deadline. The game was fortunately as modder-friendly as NBA Live 99 had been.
- The hidden developer teams that had been unlockable in NBA Live 98 and NBA Live 99 were removed in NBA Live 2000. This was likely done to free up disc space for the Legends and Decade All-Stars assets, or perhaps just because they were starting to be seen as a thing of the past. Not all “wacky” content was removed, however. Typing in playground on the loading screen in the PC version will result in the game being played on the street court from the 1-on-1 and practice modes. The teams will wear the home and away gear that’s usually worn by players in those modes, rather than their normal jerseys.
- Despite the fact Tim Duncan appears on the cover, the game’s introduction video prominently features Kevin Garnett. KG also appears on the credits screen, dancing with animations that don’t appear anywhere else in the game. It’s unusual for a player other than the cover athlete to be spotlighted in this way, and it might suggest that Garnett was the original choice for cover player that year (he would go on to appear on NBA Live 2001’s cover). That’s just speculation, but the fact he appears more prominently than Duncan in the intro and frontend is an interesting trivia note nevertheless.
- Because the game was rebuilt beginning with NBA Live 2001, NBA Live 2000 marks the final appearance of various features. It was the last game in the series to include in-game saves, as well as an arcade setting that mimicked NBA Jam with exaggerated jumps on dunks and wacky sound effects. Until it was reintroduced as part of All-Star Weekend in NBA Live 2005, it was also the last appearance of the Three-Point Shootout in the PC version. Practice mode also disappeared from NBA Live 2001, though it was re-added the year after in NBA Live 2002.
There’s more trivia about NBA Live 2000 that I could share, but between that list and my 25th Anniversary of NBA Live retrospective, hopefully I’ve provided a handful of interesting facts. Let’s move on to NBA Live 10!
- NBA Live 10 is the last NBA Live game released for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. NBA Elite 11 and NBA Live 13 were both intended to come out on those platforms, but both were of course ultimately cancelled. This gives NBA Live 10 the dubious distinctions of being the first game in the series to be the current release for more than a year, having the longest tenure as the most recent title, and technically being the direct predecessor to three different games: NBA Elite 11, NBA Live 13, and NBA Live 14. It’s also the final game to be developed and released by the EA Sports Canada studio.
- Due to the cancellation of NBA Elite 11, NBA Live 10 continued to receive roster updates for the 2011 season, and these updates were also inadvertently pushed through for NBA Live 09. The roster updates were free for all users, in contrast to the original Dynamic DNA updates which were only free for those who bought the game new. As with NBA Live 09, anyone who bought NBA Live 10 second-hand needed to purchase a Dynamic DNA subscription in order to get those updates throughout the year. Fortunately, EA Sports would abandon this business model for Synergy updates in future games.
- It’s one of two games that long-time NBA 2K Gameplay Director Mike Wang (aka Beluba) worked on during his brief stint at EA Sports. Beluba has cited the change in direction after NBA Live 10 as the reason he returned to Visual Concepts beginning with NBA 2K11. He’s been credited for the size-up mechanics in NBA Live 10 – a feature that NBA 2K would later adopt – as well as the move back to a single shoot button, with sprint acting as a modifier to perform dunks. Indeed, Mike Wang’s tenure with both companies seems to have resulted in both of the series adopting aspects pioneered in the other.
- The Hangar, designed as the ultimate practice facility, made its debut in NBA Live 10. It was the default shootaround mode, and as with other games on the generation, was loaded into before any menu options appeared. Although it isn’t possible to select the players shooting around in The Hangar, gamers can switch between everyone currently on the court. The groups of players all have a theme, with the boot-up group including cover player Dwight Howard, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, and other stars. Other groupings include rookies, rising stars, Draft Classes, and players signed to the same shoe brands.
- Live Run debuted in NBA Live 10, branded by adidas. Unlike recent iterations of Live Run which are connected to the game’s career mode and are played using an avatar, adidas Live Run involved controlling an NBA player of your choosing in a pick-up game to 21. In this way, it’s more similar to the original Online Team Play that debuted as a post-release update for NBA Live 08, in which users played with real teams while locked to a real player. NBA Live 10 also added Dynamic Season, a season mode powered by Synergy where the user could play, replay, and alter results to create their own Playoff brackets.
- A standalone Playoffs mode also returned in NBA Live 10, and was touted as a new feature. Unfortunately, All-Star Weekend was removed. The return of Playoffs mode was accompanied by new atmosphere settings that can still be found in the game today. With the series being built from the ground up for the current generation, NBA Live 10 also marks the last appearance of several modes and features, at least to date. These include Online Leagues, Fantasy Teams (aka Quick Pick Play), the FIBA World Championship, Playoffs, roster sharing functionality, and the NBA Live Academy in Dynasty mode.
- Another new feature that was unique to NBA Live 10 was ESPN on Demand content. At the time, it was possible to access videos, podcasts, stats, and articles via the game, making it a hub for real NBA news and coverage in addition to a gaming experience. This type of ESPN Integration would be phased out of NBA Live, except for a few mini-podcast snippets that play in the menus of NBA Live 15. With so many other avenues to access highlights and coverage, ESPN content in future NBA Lives would simply focus on in-game branding and presentation, including the commentary teams.
- To date, NBA Live 10 is the last game in the series to feature regional cover players. Dwight Howard was the primary cover player, appearing in most NTSC and PAL regions. Pau Gasol appeared on the Spanish cover, as he had since NBA Live 2005, while the United Kingdom also received a regional cover featuring Luol Deng. Howard was fresh off appearing in the 2009 NBA Finals, as was Kobe Bryant, the cover player for NBA 2K10. This marked the first and so far only time that both NBA Live and NBA 2K featured Finalists from the previous year as their cover players for head-to-head releases.
- Still on the subject of lasts, Marv Albert and Steve Kerr make their final appearances as commentators in the NBA Live series. However, this would have been the case even if NBA Elite 11 had been released, as the trio of Mike Breen, Jeff Van Gundy, and Mark Jackson took over commentary duties in that game, with ESPN branding finally integrated into gameplay presentation. As a bonus trivia fact, because Mark Jackson ended up taking the position of the Golden State Warriors’ head coach in 2011, he wouldn’t end up providing any commentary for NBA Live when the series finally returned in 2013.
- Allan Houston appears in the Free Agent Pool, despite playing his last NBA game in the 2005 season. The second of two unsuccessful comeback attempts placed him in the rosters of NBA Live 09 however, making him a holdover from that game. Other inactive players who appear in the Free Agents in NBA Live 10 despite being out of the league more than a year include Robert Horry, Stephon Marbury, Steve Francis, Darrell Armstrong, P.J. Brown, Pat Garrity, Adrian Griffin, and Damon Stoudamire. Several players who retired in 2009, such as Dikembe Mutombo and Brent Barry, are also still in the game.
There you have it: ten trivia facts about NBA Live 2000 and NBA Live 10! I hope that you were able to learn something new, or were at least reminded of an interesting fact that you’d forgotten. Both games are quite well-regarded, though in terms of critical success and sales compared to the competition, NBA Live 2000 represents a much higher point in the series. Hopefully we’ll see the series return later this year with a great game, and maybe see the return of some of the modes and features that I’ve covered here. In the meantime, got a fun trivia fact about NBA Live 2000 or NBA Live 10 of your own? Feel free to post it in the comments below!