Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The 10 Greatest Basketball Video Game Characters of All Time

First things first, I’d just like to thank Dan for giving me an opportunity to contribute to the 2 Man Weave. Getting straight to the point, my name is Gary, and you’d be hard pressed to find two things I love more than the NBA and video games. So, it seems appropriate that with my 2 Man Weave debut, I’d combine the two into one super-blog (I’d settle for a slightly-below-average blog to be honest). I present to you, the 10 greatest basketball video game characters of all time.

10. Kevin Durant, NBA 2K11

When it comes to current gen basketball games, I like to do a full 82 game season with 12 minute quarters (I told you, it’s damn near impossible to find 2 things i love more than the NBA and video games). This year, I picked the Jazz (the throwbacks did it for me) set up my sliders and started a season. 3 games into it, I had my first match-up with Oklahoma City and Kevin Durant. Little did I know that I was on my way to my first defeat of the season, and there was nothing I could do about it. I don’t remember exact numbers, but Durant attempted no less than 20+ 3’s, and made at least 65% of them. I know this because he proceeded to do it EVERY TIME I played OKC. He was unstoppable from behind the arc, from mid range, at the rim, EVERY WHERE. Westbrook never scored more than 15. It seemed that their entire offense consisted of “Westbrook brings ball up, passes to KD, KD takes it to the rim/shoots contested 3/settles for an awkward midrange J.” And every single one worked.
Kevin Durant makes life very easy for virtual Scoot Brooks

9. Coolio, Rap Jam Vol. 1

It’s Coolio. In a video game. A BASKETBALL video game. And this was before Gangsta’s Paradise came out. The game also included LL Cool J, Public Enemy version Flavor Flav (YEAA BOYYY), Naughty by Nature, and Queen Latifah before she was the Queen Latifah.

8. Shawn Kemp, NBA Jam

I’m not talking about any of these remakes (NBA Jam Extreme, On Fire, or any Jam title followed by a year number). Anything beyond Tournament Edition is dead to me. I’m sure most of you can recall the ridiculous front flip dunks, Tim Kitzrow’s “ HE’S ON FIRE” and “BOOMSHAKALACKA!”, and the unadulterated goal tending featured in this 2-on-2 free for all. Hell, I still have TE for my SNES. Sure you had teams like Utah (Stockton/Malone), Phoenix (Barkley/KJ), Charlotte (‘Zo and Grandmama), and the Knicks (Somehow Ewing had more speed than Starks? What?). But the real Jam addicts knew that Seattle was where the best duo was at. You could pair up the Rain Man with the Glove or Detlef Schremf and you would have to TRY to lose. I preferred to pair him up with Schremf for inside/outside dominance. Then again, it really didn’t matter, since Kemp could basically dunk from the arc and block any shot within a 30 foot radius.

7. Yao Ming, any 2K game since 2002

Abusing the up-and-under animation anywhere within 6 feet of the basket, this move was especially hard to stop between 04-08 when the Rockets also had a still serviceable McGrady, who would drive the lane, make a layup or dunk, or make the defense collapse and pump-fake/pass to Yao. Seriously, this move was automatic. Not to mention he absolutely shut down your inside game. He also got the “LeBron” treatment when it came to no-call travels. This video is all the proof you’ll need.

6. Scottie Pippen, NBA Jam

I guess the developers at EA Sports (these dudes have basically run the sports video gaming world since the dawn of time) felt bad for Chi Town because Jordan wasn’t in the Player’s Association, so they gave Pip street-balling superpowers beyond all comprehension. He’s like Shawn Kemp with range, speed, and the ability to catch fire with minimal effort. I swear one of my most vivid childhood memories consists of virtual Scottie shoving teammate BJ Armstrong to the ground, grabbing the loose ball, sinking a 45 foot trey and threatening BJ that if he ever touches the ball again, he’ll put him on permanent Paxson jock strap duty… No? Just me?

Start at 1:00 minute mark
5. Michael Jordan, Chaos in the Windy City

Also up for consideration here was Shaq from Shaq Fu, but that game never actually used basketballs. Sorry, big fella. This one on the other hand, includes various status-inflicted basketballs, such as flame balls, frozen balls, purple balls (I hope you’re as uncomfortable reading this as I am writing it) and bowling balls (um... alright). These balls are used as weapons against zombies with basketball heads that have apparently overrun the city of Chicago. Why? Does it really matter? You can dunk into nets scattered throughout the levels that reward you with different power-ups or health, such as an extra life, or a health boost in the form of a box of Wheaties or a bottle of Gatorade. Let me repeat myself. HIS HEALTH IS WHEATIES AND GATORADE. Can you imagine how the brainstorming for this gem had to have gone down?
“OK, so, MJ, er, uh, Michael... is it okay if I call you Michael? Look, we here at Electronic Arts would like to do this game, with you as the main character...”
“Hell no man, you know I’m not part of the Players Association.”
“Oh, we’ve got that taken care of, sir. You’re the only NBA player in this game. It’s a platformer...”
“A what?”
“...You throw super-powered basketballs at zombies with basketball heads while eating Wheaties and Gatorade.”
"...You tell Frank (Jordan’s agent) about this?”
“Yes sir, he’s given us the OK.”
“...F*** it, what ever.”

*presumed dialouge

4. The corner three, Double Dribble (otherwise known as DOUBLE DIBBLE, just listen to the announcer at the beginning of the video)

This one is going WAY back. Before Tecmo, before Live, before Jam. Not long after Jumpman (not to be confused with the Jordan logo) changed his name to Mario. And yes, I realize that it’s not actually a character. Straight from the wikipedia page: Several positions on the court were 'hot spots,' high-percentage areas where shots-taken were likely to score points. For example: it is easier to hit a 3-pointer on the bottom right-hand side of the screen. A player could start a 3-point jump shot from the top right or left corner of the court inbounds, and continue the jump out of bounds and even slightly behind the hoop and it would go in nearly every time. Here’s a video to prove it. So remember kids, if you’re ever in a situation to hustle some money from a friend in a 25 year old basketball game for a console that most people sell for 50 cents at garage sales, use this age old trick. To quote the great Craig Kilborn/not-so-great REM, “that’s three in the corner.”

3. Tom Chambers, Lakers vs. Celtics

The flowing, blonde mullet. The short shorts. The ridiculous hops for a big white dude. Chambers was the total package. Just ask Mark Jackson. However, virtual-Chambers was blessed with something other than great hair and big ups. Try the ability to dunk from the arc. He’s borderline Bo-Jackson status. Although I’ve never heard it with an official title, I’ve taken a liking to the one that YouTube’r cvmh777 has given it. With that, I present to you the Tom Chambers Double Pump Dunk of DOOOOOOOOOOOOOM.

2. LeBron James, NBA 2K9

As an avid 2K’er, I built many a faux-championship hope around LeBron since ‘03. Yea, I could make a LeChoke joke here or tell you how I asked him for a dollar and he only gave me 75 cents (didn’t have a 4th quarter. BA-ZING.), but remember, this is about fake basketball. Give me those ‘09 Cavs against any team in that game and I will destroy you. LeBron will score 93 and shoot 80 percent. He will drive to the hole on you at will. Attempt to block it? Get ready for a gravity-defying, completely unrealistic airtime, 360 adjustment lay-up that he inexplicably sinks. And there will be absolutely nothing you can do about it. Just don’t rage quit.

1. Charles Barkley, Barkley’s Shut up and Jam

Maybe giving the number one spot to a man with his name on the game can’t be justified, but all’s fair in love and video games (or something like that). This is a classic case of what I like to call, “Ken Griffey Jr. Presents Major League Baseball” syndrome. If your name is on the game, you’re by far and away the best player, and right off the bat (no pun intended) have an unfair advantage. Sir Charles was faster, stronger, could shoot better, jump higher, push harder (it was a 2-on-2 street ball game) and dunk ferocious-er (give me a break here). Apparently, there is also a spot on the court from 3 that Charles would never miss from. You can’t dismiss the fact that the game play music was pretty dope for its time and Charles’, “go get the damn ball,” never failed to amuse me in my early gaming years. All in all however, this game is downright turrible.

Honorable Mentions include:
  • Air Alnight, David Robinson’s Supreme Court (yea, I guess this is a real game)
  • Duke Blue Devils, Coach K Basketball (did I even need to put this here?)
  • Detlef Schremf, In the Zone
  • Eddie Griffin, NBA Live 03
  • Yeti Snowman, NBA Street

-G (@dontgetkilled)


  1. chaos in the windy city game was insane....your missing street hoopz though that game was for real

  2. Glad Eddie Griffin from Live 03 got a shout-out

  3. No love for "player 99 " in nba live 97