Any NBA or basketball fan with a gaming console probably knows about the NBA 2K series. It’s no argument that NBA 2k is the best and most popular video game out there right now and seeing how it’s been improving and adding different features year on year, it’s really hard not to agree.
Since joining the virtual arena in 1999, NBA 2k has grown to be one of the biggest multi-platform giants out there. But, that wasn’t always the case. Here are five of the best non-2k basketball video games, ever.
5. Jordan vs. Bird: One on One (1988)
Throwing it back to one of the most classic basketball video games out there, Electronic Arts’ One on One series. As the title suggests, the premise was pretty simple – two players, one on one. And for this second installment, it was all-time greats Michael Jordan and Larry Bird. Users also had the option to play mini-games such as a slam dunk contest (via MJ) and a three-point contest (via Bird). This release was a sequel to EA Sports’ first outing which was “One on One: Dr. J vs. Larry Bird”. If you take a look at the game-play and the graphics, obviously it’s a far cry from what we’re used to seeing now. And yes, maybe there are a lot of other games out there who deserve to be on this list but huge props to EA Sports for leading the way and coming up with one of the simplest (but still awesome) games ever. Cut them some slack, it was the 80’s.
4. NCAA Basketball 10 (2009)
As one of the last college basketball video games to be released, NCAA Basketball 10 by EA Sports will definitely go down in history as one of the most timeless ones. One of the best features of the game was being able to choose your favorite player in over 300 Division 1 schools and even being allowed to recruit upcoming high school prospects. Imagine all the possibilities if something like this would come out now. University of Oklahoma alum and 2009 NBA first overall pick Blake Griffin was NCAA Basketball 10’s cover athlete and would eventually be the last cover athlete for the series (and college basketball video games, in general). Unfortunately, the series was discontinued after this year after some licensing and legal issues.
3. NBA Live 95 (1994)
The king of the virtual basketball arena in the 90’s and the 2000’s was undoubtedly the infamous NBA Live. EA Sports’ NBA Live Series was a staple in every kid’s (and kids-at-hearts) living room for more than a decade until it was dethroned by up and coming NBA 2k in 2012. And, arguably one of the best releases in the entire series was their very first one – NBA Live 95. This was the very first game to carry the name “Live” and set the tone for the brand in the coming years. Obviously, technological limitations were there so the younger ones might not appreciate how iconic this release was. But trust me, it was a game-changer. NBA Live 95 was a trailblazer and a legend in its own right which made the mid-90’s a little more fun. Unfortunately, MJ wasn’t available in the game due to some licensing issues which left the Bulls fans a little disappointed.
2. NBA Jam (1993)
NBA Jam was an instant hit to basketball fans across the globe in the early 90’s. It was first developed as an arcade game by Midway and was eventually launched to gaming consoles by Acclaim in 1993. NBA Jam was nothing like any basketball video game people were accustomed to. For one, it featured a two-on-two game which was different to the usual ten-player set-up. It was a fun, hyperbolic approach to the game which worked so well. High-flying dunks, flaming basketballs, power-ups – it seemed like NBA Jam had it all. Though the series did have a few more releases after the first one, volume one is for sure the most memorable one.
1. NBA Street Vol. 2 (2003)
One of the most fun, creative and interesting series to ever be released was the NBA Street series. NBA Street took the streetball brand of basketball from the playgrounds to everyone’s screens. After the successful release of the revolutionary NBA Street Volume 1 in 2001, EA Sports found a way to take things up a notch and come out with one of the best basketball games that would ever hit the market. From a great soundtrack to awesome courts, NBA Street 2 was an instant classic and would surely outdo its predecessor. What other game would allow you to field a team of three Michael Jordans from different eras with Nate Dogg humming in the background?