A History of Basketball Video Games


It's a mostly pictoral with some video spots about the history and progression of basketball videogames.

Which were your favorites?

I remember loving Double Dribble as a kid and I always hated it when a shot rimmed out. I thought that squeezing the button harder was the key to getting a shot to drop.
I didn't play a ton of these games, and the most recent one was NBA Street 2. I tried 3 briefly but it took the over-the-top to a (somehow) even more ridiculous extreme, and suddenly I was done with the series.

Where did it begin for you, which have you played and which do you still play?

I was totally into Basketball games for a while. I did a little Double Dribble when I was a kid, and I found "Bulls v. Blazers" utterly infuriating because of how limiting it was (remember how all the best players had certain spots on the floor from which they were utterly impossible to stop? I got punched over that once), although I still played a healthy bit of it.

I got about 10 minutes of fun out of NBA Jam. For the most part, I hated it, and the ridiculous extremes, which explains why the only NBA Street game I enjoyed was 1, when it had some minor, tenuous ties to real life.

Then NBA Live 95 dropped. I was a deranged junkslut for that game. I played two whole seasons, one as the Knicks, another as the Mavericks with that game. Loved it, loved it, loved it. I even bought "Coach K Basketball" just because it used mostly the same mechanics. I was with NBA Live for probably a good five, six years. Then, and I can't remember which one but it was about the same time EA totally screwed up the NHL series as well, EA just totally f*cked up the game. Totally. It was released half-finished, buggy, at best, a Beta version, probably an Alpha. And I fell away. As my interest in the sport has waned, I haven't been back. I think the 2K series is superior for the real basketball heads, but I just can't get myself into it anymore.

The great thing however, is that the NBA Live series pretty much explains how Isiah Thomas signs players as a GM, as his teams always rate better in NBA Live than they actually are.

I never really played basketball, but it seems like I played a ton of the games. Scary, but I go back to that original Atari game. Then Dr. J vs. Larry Bird on the C64 became an obsession. I have no idea how many backboards I shattered.

I was never a huge NBA Jam fan at the arcade, but I had a roommate that was an obnoxious Knicks fan, and we would play NBA Jam incessantly. He took the Knicks with John Starks and Patrick Ewing, so I would take the Magic just to annoy him. What's funny is that the Magic had Anfernee Hardaway and Nick Anderson. But Anderson was this huge guy with monster slams, rather than an outside shooter. Yeah, he was actually Shaq, but named Nick Anderson because of licensing.

Then we got into Live 95, like everybody else. Again, we played it constantly, much to the distress of my wife (my girlfriend at that time). Almost always it was Knicks and Magic.

But then, I dropped out of console gaming until I picked up a Dreamcast after it had been discontinued. But I still didn't play any basketball until the last three versions of College Hoops, which have been fantastic. 2K8 may be the last one I need to buy, since it has included 2K Share. I'm sure Operation Sports will have a nice set of rosters next year for 2K8, since 2K9 has been discontinued. There are a ton of OS rosters up on 2K Share. The other day I found an All-Time Kansas roster someone had uploaded.

2K Share is pretty much the ultimate feature. Not only rosters are shared, but settings, chants, plays you have designed.

Just saw this article about NBA Jam and this seemed like the most appropriate topic, even though it's old.

Who was your favorite two-man team?

The most interesting one was the team of Gary Payton and Michael Jordan. Payton didn't make the cut to be in the game, and of course, Jordan pulled himself out of the licensing of the NBA, so we had to pull him out of the game. But one day, I got a phone call from a distributor out on the west coast who told me that Gary Payton was willing to pay whatever it cost to get into the game. So we told him what to do in terms of taking photographs, so he sent in photographs of himself and Jordan, saying, "We want to be in the game, hook us up." So we actually did a special version of the game and gave both players all-star, superstar stats. There are only a handful of these machines, but Jordan and Payton did end up being in one version of the game.

I need one of those machines. Or the ROM. Something. I want Jordan in the old game.

And also Mark Turmell was apparently a Pistons fan and tweaked the game accordingly:

Did Scottie Pippen's ratings in the game really drop when he played certain teams?

It's true, but only when the Bulls played the Pistons. If there was a close game and anyone on the Bulls took a last second shot, we wrote special code in the game so that they would average out to be bricks. There was the big competition back in the day between the Pistons and the Bulls, and since I was always a big Pistons fan, that was my opportunity to level the playing field.

NBA Jam is one of the classic sports games of the 16Bit era, it really got you hooked with the arcade style. Who can forget the thrill you got when one of your players got 3 straight baskets and the words "He's on Fire" rang out. Classic.

My first basketball game was One on One: Dr. J versus Larry Bird which I believe we played on a Tandy 1000SX. I was very young but my older brother's constant play made me want to play it. We played a lot of Bulls vs Lakers on the Sega Genesis then I didn't play a basketball game for years. I've been enjoying the NBA 2k series the past couple years on PC. I'm planning on getting a PS4 and my first game will probably be NBA 2k14.