NBA 2K11 was anchored by the Jordan Challenge, which was honestly given overall game-of-the-year consideration at the time. However, last week's revelation also invited an elephant into fans' living rooms: What about the NBA's Greatest?
NBAs Greatest was the original NBA 2K12 mode, which remained relevant only during the game. For many, it was an even greater experience than the Michael Jordan tribute from 2010 on Monday.
In NBA 2K23, players may return to three distinct periods of league history while leading a period-authentic club for a multiyear period. (They may also start from the current NBA season, the same as all franchise modes before.)
According to executive producer Erick Boenisch, who is a 20-year veteran of the NBA 2K series and the lead designer of its franchise mode for 15 years, weve incorporated a feature set that we have been talking about for my entire career at Visual Concepts. This year, we were asking our fans what it would be like if you could go back in time and alter the course of NBA history.
In addition to the present day, there are now three different historical starting points available for MyNBA Eras: 1983, 1991, and 2002. Players might, for example, take over the Portland Trail Blazers and, prior to the 1984 season, draft Michael Jordan with the No. 2 pick instead of Sam Bowie. In real life, that fateful selection would return to haunt the Blazers in 1992, with Bowie long gone from the team and the Jordans Chicago Bulls stopping Portland in a six-game NBA Finals
For over a decade, this has been a perennial concern of mine, going back to NBA 2K12's greatest historical mode, which laid just as much of a foundation for NBA 2K23 as the Jordan Challenge did. But, could you imagine what it would be like if NBA 2K introduced a game with Roundball Rock?
It's probably better known as the NBC basketball theme for the 1990s, and while NBC still broadcasts it for Olympic basketball coverage, it's owned and controlled by its creator, old-school vocalist John Tesh. There's still great affection for Roundball Rock (and especially the NBC Sports fanfare opening the broadcast after a dramatic monologue from Marv Albert or Bob Costas) and there's probably no other song more associated with Jordan.
Did Boenisch, whose detail-driven management involved artists ensuring that the appropriate Chips Ahoy! ads were used each year, ever consider licensing Roundball Rock?
Boenisch responded that he did not feel like there was a perfect, perfect, perfect, perfect, perfect fit for NBA 2K23. I do believe Roundball Rock will find a home at some point in NBA 2K, and I did not want to just license it and put it in there.
For me, the song is more than just a song; it's an entire experience, and its a feeling going into the games, according to the artist.
Im surprised to think Boenisch was as serious about it as he was. I believe it will come in NBA 2K, but it will not be this year, he said. Even so, I'll enjoy NBA 2K23 knowing that my Rock will come someday.
Boenisch said that total control is unlike anything weve ever done in this mode. The mode will give players an end-of-year report telling them what will happen next season, like rule changes or franchise relocations. You can say, No, no, no, I don't want the Hornets to move between their eight cities where they stayed for, like, five years. The [Seattle] SuperSonics moved to Oklahoma City in 2008.
For those who want to fill the gaps where we couldnt [get] certain players, there are created rosters here, and user-created draft classes, as well, Boenisch emphasized. Yes, MyNBA Eras will be playable for up to 80 seasons from the start, as Franchise/The Association/MyGM were.
Boenisch said everyone has the opportunity to construct their own universe. That includes even expanding the league to as many as 36 teams at any point along the timeline.
The three historical starting points for the NBA's most powerful players were selected: 1983 is the year of Larry Bird/Magic Johnson; 1991 is the year of Michael Jordan; 2002 is the year of Kobe Bryant; the same broadcast presentation and gameplay elements that are going into an impressive Jordan Challenge will also be included in MyNBA Eras.
For games played between 1983 and 2000, Mike Fratello will return to the broadcast booth with Kevin Harlan as the lead commentator. Present-day games will feature the same varied commentator rotation as the NBA 2K series used for the past five years. MyNBA Eras will also follow the same gameplay director Mike Wang described last week in the Jordan Challenges preview.
MLB The Show Boenisch noted that the arenas themselves have era-specific looks. Im sure you saw from the screenshots, and the Jordan Challenge trailer, it really grounds the environment, Boenisch said. Theres nothing unusual; [the viewer is] seeing, you know, AT&T 5G in 1983. It makes no sense; it is dumb. We made sure none of that happens.
Serious basketball fans will likely wonder whether or not an historically accurate detail, such as changing from two to three in 1988-1989 or non-expansion divisional realignments, will show up in the NBA All-Star Game. In addition, there was also a six-year period (1997 to 2002) where players wore their individual uniforms instead of a single one.
The NBA 2K series' core, franchise-playing foundation will change according to the time, including changes to the rookie contract scale. Adding players who have to develop the way they did at the time should still play out realistically.
Boenisch said that developing a roster for every year, re-rating guys, doing the badges, testing them out, and making sure they develop correctly is a significant amount of work. Sitting there, tweaking and tuning those, and simulating and adapting again is incredible work.
MyNBA Eras, like the Jordan Challenge, is a blue-sky sports game designers' dream come true, to say nothing of fans who have seen MyGM and MyNBA, who have waited for depth and new features, taking a back seat to the MyCareer and MyTeam modes.
Boenisch said: "I'm very, very proud of what the team has accomplished." And I believe that's precisely what our target group has been clamoring for so many years.