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 sharing some screenshots of various players in NBA Live 10, sporting retro jerseys from their rookie seasons.
Among the many appealing features of NBA Live 10 was the reintroduction of retro jerseys. Every team had a home and away throwback from a significant era in their history (or a popular design as the case may be). It was a welcome sight after the jump to the seventh generation resulted in a loss of retro content, from jerseys to Legends teams. If you’re playing a season or franchise game, or even just an exhibition, it’s fun to be able to choose from a selection of uniforms past and present. To that end, NBA 2K currently does a great job in presenting a selection of retro jerseys.
NBA Live 10 has been my retro gaming jam as of late, and while browsing the game’s rosters, I had a fun idea. Although they were nearing the end of their career, a number of players from the 90s were still active as of NBA Live 10. Glancing at the selection of retro jerseys in the game, there are many that were sported by well-known 90s players in their rookie seasons. Almost all of those players had moved on to another team by the 2010 season, but I thought it’d be fun to place them back on their rookie teams, and outfit them in the relevant throwbacks. Let’s take a look back…way back…
There are a total of 26 players in NBA Live 10’s rosters with 90s retro jerseys that represent their rookie season. There are other 90s Draftees still active as of the 2010 season, but the jerseys they wore in their rookie year aren’t among the throwbacks included in the game, thus they aren’t eligible for this exercise. NBA Live 10 was also a year or two too late for a couple of players whose rookie retro jerseys are included, but they aren’t due to retirement. On the other hand, a surprising number of recently retired players are in NBA Live 10’s Free Agents Pool. Finally, there’s a player who wore two of these retros, and one from the early 2000s, for a total of 27 examples.
Dallas Mavericks 1994-95 Jerseys (Jason Kidd)
Let’s tip things off with one of two players who not only had their rookie season retro jerseys in the game, but still played for that franchise: Jason Kidd. Admittedly, Kidd was back in Dallas after stints with the Phoenix Suns and New Jersey Nets (making him a familiar face back in a familiar place), but nevertheless he’s on the team where he started his career, and thus can be outfitted with his first NBA jersey. He did end up wearing #2 during his second stint with the Mavericks, so for the purposes of this feature, I’ve changed it back to his familiar #5. Incidentally, the Mavs did wear these jerseys before 1995, but it’s an appropriate label given Kidd’s presence on the roster.
Orlando Magic Original Jerseys (Shaquille O’Neal, Darrell Armstrong)
The white home and black away pinstripe jerseys for the Orlando Magic are labelled 1989-90 (their inaugural season) in NBA Live 10, though the design remained the same until the 1999 season. They added the blue pinstripe version along the way though, which became their primary road uniform while the classic black pinstripe become the alternate. Darrell Armstrong made his NBA debut for the Magic the same season as the blue uniform – labelled 1994-95 in NBA Live 10 – while the team still sported the black version during Shaq’s first season. With Shaq still active in NBA Live 10 and Armstrong in the Free Agents, both can wear their rookie retro jerseys.
Toronto Raptors Original Jerseys (Vince Carter, Damon Stoudamire, Marcus Camby, Chauncey Billups)
Although they’re labelled as being from 1998, the Toronto Raptors’ retro jerseys date back to their inaugural campaign in 1995-96. Since Damon Stoudamire is still in the game as a free agent, he’s available to sport the uniform once again. Over the next couple of years, Marcus Camby and Tracy McGrady would join him, though both Stoudamire and Camby were gone by the time Vince Carter arrived. Chauncey Billups also played the second half of his rookie season in Toronto after being drafted by the Celtics (whose retro jerseys were from 1985-86). The Raptors also have the 1946-47 Huskies uniforms, but obviously no players from that era were in the game.
Houston Rockets 1993-1994 Jerseys (Robert Horry)
Despite retiring in 2008, Robert Horry is still in the Free Agents Pool in NBA Live 10. That makes him the only member of the Rockets’ back-to-back championship teams to be available in the game. He’s not the only former Rockets rookie still in the game, or even the only one from the 90s. Steve Francis was also present in the Free Agents Pool, but by the time he debuted in 1999, Houston had adopted their infamous “pyjama jerseys” which aren’t among the retro uniforms in NBA Live 10. The retros they do have are labelled 1993-1994 – the year of their first title – but they were in use during Horry’s rookie campaign the previous year, and for several years before that.
Phoenix Suns “Sunburst” Jerseys (Michael Finley, Steve Nash, Shawn Marion)
Michael Finley and Steve Nash wore the popular “Sunburst” jerseys as teammates in Phoenix, with Finley debuting in 1995-96 and Nash the following season. Finley was traded to the Mavericks during Nash’s rookie season, and Nash would of course later join him. Nash did return to Phoenix though, where he was still playing as of 2010; the second of two players to be suiting up for the team he debuted with along with Jason Kidd, who was briefly his teammate in Phoenix. Shawn Marion also wore the jerseys in his rookie year. They’re designated as 1992-93, where they debuted in a memorable season thanks to Charles Barkley’s arrival and a trip to the NBA Finals.
Minnesota Timberwolves Original Jerseys (Kevin Garnett, Donyell Marshall)
Somewhat arbitrarily labelled as their 1992-93 uniform, the Minnesota Timberwolves’ retro jerseys in NBA Live 10 were the ones they wore from their inception through to 1996. That encompasses the rookie season of Kevin Garnett who was still active in the game, albeit as a member of the Boston Celtics. Donyell Marshall also wore that uniform as a rookie during the previous year, until he was traded to the Golden State Warriors (where he wore jerseys that are also available in NBA Live 10). Although Stephon Marbury is in the game, his debut during the 1996-97 campaign means that he never wore those original Minnesota Timberwolves jerseys during his career.
New Jersey Nets 1991-92 Jerseys (P.J. Brown)
Now in Brooklyn, the Nets are currently wearing a throwback jersey based on the lighter blue road uniform that the team wore in 1991. They adopted a darker version the following year, and by the time P.J. Brown came to the team in 1993 following a year in Greece, that’s what they were sporting. Brown is another 2008 retiree that was still in the Free Agents in NBA Live 10, over a year removed from a run in which he won an NBA title with the Boston Celtics. Incidentally, two other teams that Brown played for – the Heat and the Hornets – have retro jerseys in NBA Live 10 that he wore during his tenure with them. It was the Nets for whom he debuted, though.
Detroit Pistons 80s & 90s Jerseys (Grant Hill, Lindsey Hunter, Theo Ratliff, Allan Houston)
No players from the Detroit Pistons’ first championship team in 1988-89 were still active as of NBA Live 10, but it made sense that that was the year used as the label for those retro jerseys. However, there were a handful of players from the 90s in NBA Live 10 who sported it before the adoption of the divisive teal uniforms. Grant Hill, Theo Ratliff, and Lindsey Hunter were all still playing in 2010, and wore that classic Pistons jersey in their rookie years. Allan Houston (with an admittedly generic face) is also in the Free Agents, by virtue of a couple of comeback attempts in the late 2000s. Notably, all four players wore them as teammates in 1996, Ratliff’s rookie year.
Washington Bullets 1994-95 Jerseys (Juwan Howard, Rasheed Wallace, Ben Wallace)
Another of NBA Live 10’s retro jerseys that was labelled with a somewhat arbitrary year, the Bullets throwbacks sported by the Wizards had been worn by three players who can be found in the game. The label does fit Juwan Howard, who wore them during his rookie season in 1995. The following year, Rasheed Wallace donned them in his first campaign. Following Rasheed’s trade to the Portland Trail Blazers, Ben Wallace essentially inherited his number 30 Bullets jersey for a year, before the team rebranded to the Wizards in 1997. The last three one-time Bullets in the league, Ben retired in 2012, while Rasheed and Howard both called it a day after the 2013 season.
Miami Heat 1990-91 Jerseys (Bruce Bowen)
Here’s another one that flies under the radar, as most of us understandably think of Bruce Bowen as a San Antonio Spur. With one game in the 1996-97 season though, he was originally a rookie with the Miami Heat. It was the first of two stints Bowen had with the Heat, and in that debut game – in which he tallied just one block in one minute of court time – he wore the home jersey that appears as one of Miami’s retros in NBA Live 10. As noted above, P.J. Brown also sported those jerseys during his time with the Miami Heat, joining the team the same year that Bowen quietly debuted. Bowen is the only player in NBA Live 10 to have worn it in his first game, though.
Utah Jazz 1987-88 Jerseys (Aaron Williams)
Talk about obscure! Aaron Williams is yet another 2008 retiree that was still in the Free Agents Pool in NBA Live 10, extending his career on the virtual hardwood. If you remember Aaron Williams, you probably recall him as a Net, where he was a key reserve during their two trips to the NBA Finals in the early 2000s. His rookie season actually came seven years before his stint in New Jersey, when he played six games for the Jazz in November and December of 1993. The 1987-88 retro Jazz jerseys in NBA Live 10 were still being worn by the team right up until they adopted their new “mountain” uniforms in 1996, meaning that Aaron Williams also suited up in them.
Golden State Warriors 1990-91 Jerseys (Joe Smith, Donyell Marshall)
The 1990-91 Warriors jerseys are closely associated with Run-TMC: the dynamic trio of Chris Mullin, Tim Hardaway, and Mitch Richmond that played two years together. Golden State kept that design through to the 1997-1998 season, meaning that number one pick in 1995 Joe Smith also wore the Warriors’ retros in NBA Live 10. Smith was still active in 2010, but Donyell Marshall – as noted above, a rookie with the Warriors a year before Smith arrived – was in the Free Agents, with 2009 being his final season. Though he only wore the jersey for half of his rookie campaign, Marshall ended up wearing it longer than Smith, who was traded to the Philadelphia 76ers in 1998.
Denver Nuggets 1987-88 Jerseys (Dikembe Mutombo)
Like Donyell Marshall, Dikembe Mutombo retired in 2009, which makes his presence in the Free Agents less surprising than the players who retired in 2008. His long NBA career also means that he’s one of the few players included in NBA Live 10 that wore one of the retro jerseys that dates back to the 80s. Mt. Mutombo himself didn’t debut until 1991, but the Denver Nuggets were still wearing their rainbow skyline jerseys through to 1993, meaning that Dikembe played in them during his first two seasons in the league. While those jerseys are generally associated with players such as Alex English and Kiki Vandeweghe, it’s Mutombo that represents them in NBA Live 10.
Vancouver Grizzlies 2000-01 Jerseys (Stromile Swift)
I was originally only going to focus on 90s rookies whose freshman campaigns are represented by retro jerseys in NBA Live 10, but there’s only one example from the 2000s, so revisiting the topic with a sequel article isn’t feasible. Anyway, Stromile Swift’s rookie season was the Grizzlies’ final year in Vancouver, during which they introduced new uniforms. It’s odd that it was chosen for NBA Live 10 over their original jerseys – especially since the Raptors featured theirs – but it does mean that Swift, who was a free agent in NBA Live 10 as he hadn’t retired from basketball just yet, can be placed back on the Grizzlies and be outfitted in his retro rookie jerseys.
And there you have it. Is there a point to exercises such as this? Admittedly, a lot of people wouldn’t bother to do something like it, but for me it was interesting to comb through NBA Live 10’s rosters, and see which players could be matched up with retro jerseys that they had worn in their rookie seasons. I was somewhat surprised to find 27 examples, though the inclusion of several players that had retired a couple of years earlier did pad out the numbers. To me, an exercise like this is a twist on the concept of games being interactive almanacs. Even when you start making some edits of your own, you can use the games to demonstrate some (hopefully) interesting trivia.
Note: Although the Seattle SuperSonics’ jerseys from 1995 and earlier are available to the Oklahoma City Thunder, there are no Sonics rookies from the 90s left in NBA Live 10 that wore it. Similarly, the New Orleans Hornets have the original home and away jerseys for the Charlotte Hornets, as well as their short-lived purple alternate from the mid 90s, but it’s not accurate for Baron Davis, Ricky Davis, and Brad Miller who debuted for them in the late 90s (and were originally in this article until I double-checked Charlotte’s uniform history). To the best of my knowledge, I’ve accounted for all the 90s Draftees whose rookie team jerseys are among the game’s retro uniforms