The Jordan Challenge is back in NBA 2K23, sparing no expense

The Jordan Challenge is back in NBA 2K23, sparing no expense ...

It's difficult to get authentically fired up against a superstar who is so well-known and whose career highlights are so familiar as Michael Jordan. However, I invite sports enthusiasts to watch this trailer for NBA 2K23 and not get a lump in their throats, even if they know what's coming. The Shot over Craig Ehlo, The Shrug at Marv Albert, The Flu Game, standing off the court in Scottie Pippens arms.

The Jordan Challenge, which was the heart of a groundbreaking sport video game created 12 years ago, is now available for download on NBA 2K23, with a spared-no-expense level of detail and presentation that is, even from the preview slice shown to media on Monday, legitimately impressive. Its also the testimonials from players so closely linked to Jordan and his career, from Dennis Rodman and Phil Jackson to Mike Fratello and Ahmad Rashad.

According to executive producer Erick Boenisch, this generation did not get the opportunity, necessarily, to see Michael play live, to see him play on TV, or to see him play in person. All they know about this person is from YouTube, word of mouth, or their parents. This is a great opportunity for us to retell Michael Jordan's incredible stories to a whole new generation of NBA fans.

  • In addition to a virtuoso motion capture performance, NBA 2K23 studio Visual Concepts developed a series of filters and overlays to mimic the look of CRT televisions from 30 years ago. Image: Visual Concepts/2K Sports
  • Image: Visual Concepts/2K Sports
  • Image: Visual Concepts/2K Sports
  • Image: Visual Concepts/2K Sports
  • Image: Visual Concepts/2K Sports
  • Image: Visual Concepts/2K Sports
  • Image: Visual Concepts/2K Sports
  • Image: Visual Concepts/2K Sports

It's unlikely that the old generation of NBA followers will be enthralled when they revisit Chicago Stadium, Madison Square Garden, the Richfield Coliseum, and the Great Western Forum with a like-it-was-yesterday vibe. They studied the arenas and even used sponsors old logos on stadium advertisements.

Mike [Wang] and his team create all kinds of custom work for college basketball, for the NBA 2K series, according to Boenisch, and those are things we just didnt have the size to accomplish back then.

The Jordan Challenge for NBA 2K23 begins with a one of the five new moments, the 1982 NCAA National Championship match between the North Carolina Tar Heels and the Georgetown Hoyas, featuring his future and long-time adversary Patrick Ewing. Tar Heels legends James Worthy and Sam Perkins will take the court in their alma maters' uniforms under the glare of the Hoyas' coach, John Thompson.

Weve been trying to get North Carolina for a number of years now, according to Boenisch, referring to the NBA 2Ks MyCareer mode's college portion. They always had their reasons for not wanting to do it. Pitching them, we said, Here's our vision for the game this year, Mikes involved, Mike wants this, and they said, OK, great. Lets do this.

NBA 2K23 will feature the voice of the public address announcer who heralded the Bulls' starting line in FROMMMMMM North CAR-O-LINA. That's Ray Clay, who recorded a complete audio library similar to what more than 30 stadium PAs did for NBA 2K22, meaning teammates like Bill Cartwright and B.J. Armstrong will get authentic game-day treatment.

The Jordan Challenge isn't all about window dressing and presentation. Wang, the game director, said his team understood its responsibility to make NBA 2K23s moments feel and play the way basketball did in the 1990s. The most obvious example of this is the Detroits famous Jordan Rules, which teed up MJ for punishment whenever he got near the basket and sought to frustrate him with a constant rotation of Bad Boy defenders.

Wang said that in order to make it feel right, different systems had to be implemented. When Jordan plays, they will force him to his left and double-team him on drives. If [Jordan] posts up, theyll come in double with the power forward and center, and every time you go to the rim, you get hammered hard with crazy, hard fouls.

Boenisch spoke with NBC Sports broadcast partners Marv Albert and Shaquille ONeal to complete the picture. Ahmad Rashad, a longtime Jordan pal, was also interviewed.

We brought [Fratello] in and he just started rattling off stories, Boenisch said. We had done our research and prepared the scripts, but we really hadn't heard this stuff before. It's amazing. He really brought the energy to the game when you play.

I can remember, vividly, where I was for The Shot: watching with my father, his editor, and the sports editor, all Carolina alumni. I can remember seeing Jordans go-ahead against the Lakers at a graduation ceremony after my senior year of high school. I can remember Karl Malones' utterly stoic expression, as he stole his best hope for a championship trophy.

Wang said it was a labor of love. We have a lot of old guys on our team, a lot of our employees, and a lot of people who came into this industry because of Michael Jordan. So, having the opportunity to do it was fantastic fun for us as well.

NBA 2K23's Jordan Challenge will be available in all versions on September 8 for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Windows PC, and Xbox Series X.