NBA Playoffs 2011: Simulating Lakers Vs. Hornets, Using Horrible 1990s Video Game 'In The Zone '98'

In this series, we're simulating all eight of the first-round NBA Playoffs series... using the worst 1990s basketball video games we can find.

Lakers Vs. Hornets

Simulation software used: In The Zone '98 (Nintendo 64, 1998)

Inthezonecover_medium

In The Zone '98, alternately known as Weird Blurry Block-People Make Poorly-Contested Shots In Slow Motion: The Game, features Glen Rice on the cover. Snagging an endorsement deal with Rice was a huge pull for Konami, given that literally thousands of people knew who he was.

I keep bringing this up, because it keeps ringing true: in their book, FreeDarko argues that Western culture completely bottomed out in 1998. Even in the sub-sub-subculture that was "basketball video gaming on the Nintendo 64," this was true.

Like most Nintendo 64 games, its outdated graphics do have a certain charm to them, but I'm pretty sure they copied and pasted the artificial intelligence from the scientists in the Facility level of Goldeneye 007. It was unbelievably easy to win against the computer. It follows, then, that pitting the computer against itself should make for the worst basketball ever played, right?

Well, yes and no. I set the Hornets to play the Lakers and recorded the fourth quarter:

Simulated result: Lakers 27, Hornets 25. Another close finish, with Nick Van Exel draining the game-winner with 0.4 seconds left.

Proceedings get unexpectedly poignant at the 45-second mark of the video, when Bobby Phills dishes to David Wesley to tie the game. RIP, guy.

Keys to the game:

  • The Hornets can break through Phil Jackson's defense by dribbling into the paint and then just passing over and over until the most heavily-contested guy gets the ball and shoots it.
  • The Lakers enjoy a huge home-court advantage since their court is this blurry skating rink-looking thing.
  • The Hornets are the sort of team that isn't afraid to bench Vlade Divac in favor of Tony Farmer in the final minute for absolutely no reason.
  • Both teams will struggle to score, given that the act of shooting a basketball is roughly equivalent to cupping water in your hands and trying to throw it all into a wine carafe 35 feet away while a giant man made of boxes flails his arms around right in front of your face.
  • Either team may gain an advantage if any of their players decide not to be horrible worthless idiot box people all the time.

For simulations of the rest of the NBA Playoffs' first-round match-ups, stay tuned to this StoryStream. And for actual, intelligent analysis of these teams, check out our Lakers blog, Silver Screen and Roll, and our Hornets blog, At The Hive.

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