With The Jordan Challenge, NBA 2K23 will bring back the series' celebration of Michael Jordan's greatest achievements, adding five more games to the original set of ten offered 12 years ago.
Executive producer Erick Boenisch, a 20-year veteran of Visual Concepts who has worked on all but three games in the series, said the project. I wanted this to be above the NBA 2K11s Jordan Challenge in every way.
Boenisch and gameplay director Mike Wang delved deeply into Jordan's career history and context in order to bring it alive for a new generation of basketball enthusiasts who may have never seen him play.
When the Jordan Challenge launches on September 8, it will be available in all versions of NBA 2K23: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Windows PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X. Here are 15 of the new Jordan Challenge's 15 moments, and the deeper meaning inside each of them.
The National Championship
New Orleans, Louisiana, on March 29, 1982.
Mike Jordan was the fourth freshman in North Carolina basketball history to start in his first game for the Tar Heels. He starred alongside future Hall of Famer James Worthy and three-time all-American Sam Perkins in the 1982 NCAA championship match between Patrick Ewing and Georgetown. Jordans No. 23 is one of seven players who has fully retired from service at Chapel Hill.
Prelude to a Dream
Indianapolis' Hoosier Dome on July 9, 1984.
The United States men's national basketball team opened Indiana's brand-new Hoosier Dome with a scrimmage against a Boston Celtics team of NBA stars, including Hall of Famers Robert Parish, Kevin McHale, and Larry Bird. Jordan scored 14 points in this game, which he won 97-82. He would later join the 1992 Dream Team, the greatest group of players in basketball history.
God in Disguise
Game 2, Eastern Conference first round, Boston Garden, Boston, April 20, 1986.
Jordan was selected third overall by the Chicago Bulls from a 1984 NBA draft whose top five included future Hall of Famers Hakeem Olajuwon and Charles Barkley. In 1986, the Bulls were ranked eighth against a formidable Celtics team that was advancing to the franchise's 16th NBA championship. Jordan's between-the-legs dribble and stepback jumper in Bird's face is still one of NBA history's greatest accomplishments.
An All-Star Forever
NBA All-Star Game, Chicago Stadium, February 7, 1988.
Dominique Wilkins, who jumped from the free-throw line to defeat the Human Highlight Film in one of the greatest NBA Dunk Contests ever, dumping 40 points against Magic Johnson and the Western Conference All-Stars in front of his own home crowd. At the time, Wilt Chamberlains was two points short of the All-Star Game scoring mark.
Game 5, Eastern Conference first round, Richfield Coliseum, Cleveland, May 7, 1989.
The Bulls are down 100-99. Larry Nance and Craig Ehlo double-teaming Jordan. Jordan shoves Nance out of the field, waits for Ehlo to drift past, then throws the shot in the air in a panic. Ehlo collapses in shock, and Jordan dodges four punches in the air, nearly decking Sellers in their first-round playoff victory.
Shootout at the ATL Corral
1990, Chicago Bulls vs. Atlanta Hawks.
This game is a follow-up to NBA 2K11, and is intended to highlight Wilkins and Jordan's scoring ability at the peak of their careers. It does not recreate any single game that occurred on that night, when MJ scored 36 points and Nique scored 26 in a 92-84 Bulls victory.
Cleveland's Richfield Coliseum on March 28, 1990.
Jordan scored 54 points in an overtime victory over the Cavaliers in the 1990 season in Chicago. He then met in Cleveland four months later for another stunning track meet. Chicago prevailed in overtime again, 117-113, as Jordan played 50 minutes and scored 69 points on 23-of-37 shooting. It also inspired one of NBA history's greatest postgame quotes, when rookie teammate Stacey King said, "I'll always remember this as the night Michael Jordan and I scored 70 points.
The Jordan Rules
Game 3, Eastern Conference finals, Chicago Stadium, Chicago, May 26, 1990.
Chuck Daly's Bad Boys The Pistons made no apologies for their brutal game plan that forced Jordan to use hard contact whenever he went to the basket. The Jordan Rules were also the title of Sam Smith's 1991 book about the Bulls-Pistons feud. Jordan and the Bulls won the 1991 Eastern Conference Finals, but not before Detroit dominated them on the road to NBA championships in 1989 and 1990.
NBA Finals, Chicago Stadium, and Great Western Forum, Los Angeles, June 2-12, 1991.
With a five-game NBA Finals that culminated in Jordans first championship, the Lakers won 93-91, but the Lakers won for the second time in a row. Jordan scored 33 points, leading all scorers in the process.
Game 1, NBA Finals, Chicago Stadium, Chicago, June 3, 1992.
At the height of his career, Michael Jordan achieved 35 points, including 35 points in the first half, of the Bulls' second consecutive NBA championship. After burying his sixth 3-point basket of the half, Jordan turned to NBC play-by-play announcer Marv Albert, who shrugged, as if to declare that he didnt know how he did it.
Madison Square Garden, New York, March 18, 1995.
James Jordan, Jordan's father, was murdered on July 23, 1993, in Lumberton, North Carolina, one month after Jordan and the Bulls won the NBA for the third time in a row. He said he no longer wanted to play basketball but wanted to pursue his childhood dream of playing professional baseball. After a four-game hiatus, Jordan returned to the Bulls, lighting up the Knicks for 55 points.
Game 6, NBA Finals, United Center, Chicago on June 16, 1996.
This was not one of Jordan's best games: 22 points on 5-of-19 shooting, five turnovers, seven assists. Further, the 72-win Bulls had jumped out to a 3-0 series lead over the SuperSonics before losing their focus and games 4 and 5. But it was still Fathers Day, and on that day the Bulls won their fourth world championship and the first since James Jordan's death three years earlier.
The Flu Game
Game 5, NBA Finals, Delta Center, Salt Lake City on June 11, 1997.
Jordan contracted a stomach infection two nights before Game 5 and made the game-winning 3-pointer. After the championship parade, Jordan told supporters that he and the city of Chicago must go out and give that extra effort.
Passing the Torch
Chicago United Center. December 17, 1997.
This is the first time that Kobe Bryant has been involved with the Bulls since his sophomore season. Jordan scored 36 points on 12-of-20 shooting. The Bulls then won 104-83 against a Lakers team without injured big man Shaquille ONeal.
The Last Dance
Game 6, NBA Finals, Delta Center, Salt Lake City, June 14, 1998.
Jordan's last game for the Chicago Bulls was, again, the game-winner, 87-86 against Bryon Russell and the Jazz, coming after Jordan's steal from Karl Malone with 18 seconds left. Jordan retired the following January and returned again in 2001, for two seasons in the Washington Wizards. But NBA 2K23 corrects the situation with MJ's last great moment and his sixth world championship.