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 the Supreme Update Mod for NBA Live 07.
Over the years, several amazing mods have been released in our community for both NBA Live and NBA 2K. Certain mods stand out as landmark releases though, delighting the community and inspiring other modders to produce great work of their own. Since it’s the tenth anniversary of NBA Live 07, and today also marks the 38th birthday of cover player Tracy McGrady, I thought that I’d talk about one of the most significant mods made for the game: the Supreme Update Mod. Undoubtedly one of the best projects to come out of our community, it’s about time that I profile it in a Wayback Wednesday feature.
It was one of the most comprehensive updates for a PC version of NBA Live, and a great example of teamwork and cooperation in the modding community, as well as technical innovation. Let’s take a look back…way back…
The Supreme Update Mod was created by the team of JaoSming, bigh0rt, Pdub, and c0nr4d. It was a project that was intended to simplify the process of updating and enhancing NBA Live 07. With so many modders releasing individual updates for players, teams, and other aspects of the game, gamers were often tasked with downloading mods one by one, and searching high and low for what they wanted. The Supreme Update Mod, also called SUM 07 for short, solved that problem by providing a comprehensive update for the 2007 NBA season, featuring the combined efforts of the SUM team and other contributors.
Of course, the Supreme Update Mod went beyond simply including updated rosters, faces for missing players, and accurate courts and jerseys. There were new faces with visible sweat. Freestyle Superstars replays were tweaked to show more of the play, and Instant Replay mode was enhanced with smoother camera movement and altered angles. New team selection artwork gave the effect of an entirely different method of cycling through the teams, though this was actually a creative trick of the new textures being used. There were also new menu backgrounds, freshening up the look of NBA Live 07, and even more ESPN branding was added to the game.
SUM’s attention to detail was impressive, with technical tweaks to aspects such as the Instant Replay camera demonstrating new discoveries in modding, and innovative thought. NBA Live 07 was a problematic release on all platforms, which is something I’ll discuss in more detail in my retrospective, but the Supreme Update Mod strove to create the best experience possible. There were issues with NBA Live 07 that we just couldn’t get around, but JaoSming, bigh0rt, Pdub, and c0nr4d certainly did their best. SUM may not have been the first detailed roster update or total conversion project, but it was unquestionably one of the best and most impressive upon its release.
Beyond the way it enhanced NBA Live 07 and innovated from a technical standpoint, the Supreme Update Mod was also a great example to the modding community in terms of culture. It demonstrated the benefits of teamwork and collaboration, showing what could be done when a team of modders and community contributors pooled their resources for a common goal. Even though it wasn’t the first collaborative project by an organised team, it came along at a time when competitiveness within the modding community was becoming a bit toxic on occasion. Needless to say, the efforts were very well received.
Although the SUM team had been active in the community for a while, it really brought them to my attention. I’d been looking to bolster the NLSC team with some talented and dedicated modders, and after reaching out to the guys, they came on board before the release of the Supreme Update Mod. All four went on to make great contributions to the NLSC, being valuable and exemplary members of the team. bigh0rt and Pdub are still around of course, c0nr4d has become well regarded for his design work, and JaoSming is now working for Visual Concepts as a producer on 2K TV. I’m proud to know them, and glad to have worked with them over the years.
I think it’s fair to say that the Supreme Update Mod had a lasting effect on our modding community. It certainly inspired me to try and make future versions of the NLSC roster updates as detailed as possible. When it was announced that NBA Live 09 would not be released on PC, the NBA Live PC project – which the SUM team was also involved with – had a similar goal of enhancing the gaming experience and keeping NBA Live alive on PC, this time with NBA Live 06. Mods such as the Ultimate Base Roster, U R Basketball, and many others also owe a lot to SUM, in terms of their scope, total conversion elements, and effective teamwork.
Getting back to the technical tweaks and enhancements of SUM, I think it’s also probably fair to say that it helped push the modding community in a more innovative direction. Although roster updates had been keeping games current, and new textures and models went a long way in enhancing the aesthetics, basketball video game modding usually didn’t involve a lot of tinkering with core mechanics and features; at least compared to communities who mod other genres of games. Going above and beyond in trying to enhance the NBA Live 07 experience with SUM has surely encouraged other modders to dive deeper into what can be done with modding.
If you’d like to check out the Supreme Update Mod, it’s still available in three parts here, here, and here. Keep in mind that it’s for the 2007 season, so if you’re after a current update, it’s obviously not going to fit the bill. However, for the best possible experience with NBA Live 07 PC in the season that it’s set, it’s definitely still worth checking out. SUM 07 was unquestionably a labour of love, and the enthusiasm for modding basketball video games clearly shines through. Comprehensive and somewhat revolutionary, it truly was a supreme effort, and one of the most important modding projects in the history of our community.