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Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise

NBA 2K Is Cool And All, But These Are The Throwback Basketball Video Games That Ballers Should Be Playing

Video games are for young folks or adults with kids.

But in a moment like this, I understand how they can be a godsend without sports. And since the NBA is still in denial about the fact that the rest of this season isn’t going to happen, it was recently announced that they have teamed up with NBA 2K to hold a 16-player tournament that will air on ESPN starting this weekend.

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The winner gets $100,000 to donate to a charity that’s involved with COVID-19 relief, and they’ve even seeded this thing. Don’t ask me how they determined that, but the participants are (in seeding order): Kevin Durant, Trae Young, Hassan Whiteside, Donovan Mitchell, Devin Booker, Andre Drummond, Zach LaVine, Montrezl Harrell, Domantas Sabonis, Deandre Ayton, DeMarcus Cousins, Michael Porter Jr., Rui Hachimura, Patrick Beverley, Harrison Barnes and Derrick Jones Jr. (But no De’Aaron Fox?)

Durant and Beverley are the oldest two players on that list at 31. And since they’re in this tournament, I’m guessing they’re “nice on the sticks.” However, here are eight classic games that should replace NBA 2K, because they were harder to play and more competitive since you only had a few buttons to use in order put up buckets on your opponent.

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DOUBLE DRIBBLE

1987 was a long time ago, but if you were there you remember this game. Why? The audio was unforgettable. The national anthem at the beginning, the sound of shooting – and making – a 3-pointer, and the constant noise the ball made on each dribble was unforgettable.

Illustration for article titled NBA 2K Is Cool And All, But These Are The Throwback Basketball Video Games That Ballers Should Be Playing

JORDAN VS. BIRD

This game was less about the actual gameplay, and more about the features. The one-on-one game that only featured Michael Jordan and Larry Bird had something no other game did at the time, as there was a dunk contest with MJ and a 3-point shootout with Bird.

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HOOPS

When it dropped back in 1989, there was nothing better. And everybody had their favorite player to choose from of the eight that were available for this 1-on-1 game. I always went with Jammer or Legs. Don’t sleep on around-the-world mode, either.

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ARCH RIVALS

It’s one of the most memorable video games of that era. It was a 2-on-2 full court, “basket brawl.” You could punch, throw stuff on the court, and pull down the shorts of the opposing player. It was buck wild, and fun as hell.

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Illustration for article titled NBA 2K Is Cool And All, But These Are The Throwback Basketball Video Games That Ballers Should Be Playing
Screenshot: Coach K College Basketball

COACH K COLLEGE BASKETBALL

With a picture of Coach K and Bobby Hurley on the cover, this game solidified Duke and Coach K as a powerhouse by 1995. The game featured 32 real teams and eight classics. And if you knew players’ numbers, you could tell who was who. That UCLA team was unstoppable with Toby Bailey and the O’Bannon brothers.

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Illustration for article titled NBA 2K Is Cool And All, But These Are The Throwback Basketball Video Games That Ballers Should Be Playing
Screenshot: NBA LIVE 95

NBA LIVE 95

In my opinion, it’s the best basketball video game ever made. There was plenty of scoring, a ton of 3-pointers, and just enough defense to shut down an opponent when you needed to. The random alley-oops were also fun. The slanted floor for NBA Live 95 & 96 is what made it different from other games of that era because fast breaks actually felt fast.

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Illustration for article titled NBA 2K Is Cool And All, But These Are The Throwback Basketball Video Games That Ballers Should Be Playing
Screenshot: NBA Jam

NBA JAM

It’s widely considered the GOAT. It didn’t matter what version of this game you played, they were all fun. But the original version was a moment. It dominated arcades and ate kids’ quarters. There would be a line to play, and created arguments between teammates if your partner wasn’t holding up their end on the joysticks. #BoomShakaLaka

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NCAA MARCH MADNESS

In some form or fashion, this franchise ran from 1998 until 2010, as it was the preeminent game for college basketball fans. You could press, play zone, and eventually recruit. The home-court advantages were real, and playing an entire season and having a chance to win the tournament with the actual players from that era was amazing. I never lost a game with ’98 UNC because Ed Cota didn’t miss from three.

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I put this game last because it launched Ed O’Bannon’s lawsuit on the use of a player’s likeness and compensation for it. It led to the ending of this series and the beloved NCAA College Football series.

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