The release of NBA 2K is finally here, which means basketball season is just around the corner. The latest edition of the franchise, NBA 2K17, arrived at stores Tuesday, just a week before most NBA teams open training camp.
This year's version includes a revamped "MyCareer" mode, an added focus on incorporating the signature style of your favorite players and an additional bundle with all-time rosters for 10 college basketball teams.
There are also more classic teams than ever. NBA 2K17 features 45 teams from the past, from Bill Russell's 1965 Celtics to LeBron James' 2012-2013 Heat, as well as the 1992 Dream Team, the 2016 U.S. Olympic team, and the 2016 Australia Olympic team. Cult classics like the 1996 Sonics, 1991 Run TMC Warriors, and 2003 Mavericks are included alongside iconic champions like the 1986 Celtics, 1996 Bulls, and 2001 Lakers. Here is the complete list of the classic teams included in this year’s game:
- 1964-65 Boston Celtics
- 1964-65 Los Angeles Lakers
- 1970-71 Milwaukee Bucks
- 1970-71 Los Angeles Lakers
- 1970-71 Atlanta Hawks
- 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers
- 1971-72 New York Knicks
- 1976-77 Philadelphia 76ers
- 1984-85 Milwaukee Bucks
- 1985-86 Chicago Bulls
- 1985-86 Boston Celtics
- 1985-86 Atlanta Hawks
- 1986-87 Los Angeles Lakers
- 1988-98 Detroit Pistons
- 1988-89 Chicago Bulls
- 1989-90 Cleveland Cavaliers
- 1990-91 Chicago Bulls
- 1990-91 Los Angeles Lakers
- 1990-91 Portland Trail Blazers
- 1990-91 Golden State Warriors
- 1992 Dream Team (need to unlock)
- 1992-93 Chicago Bulls
- 1992-93 Charlotte Hornets
- 1993-94 Denver Nuggets
- 1993-94 Houston Rockets
- 1994-95 New York Knicks
- 1994-95 Orlando Magic
- 1995-96 Chicago Bulls
- 1995-96 Seattle Supersonics
- 1997-98 Chicago Bulls
- 1997-98 Los Angeles Lakers
- 1997-98 Utah Jazz
- 1997-98 San Antonio Spurs
- 1999-00 Toronto Raptors
- 1999-00 Portland Trail Blazers
- 2000-01 Philadelphia 76ers
- 2000-01 Los Angeles Lakers
- 2002-03 Dallas Mavericks
- 2003-04 Detroit Pistons
- 2003-04 Minnesota Timberwolves
- 2004-05 Phoenix Suns
- 2005-06 Miami Heat
- 2006-07 Cleveland Cavaliers
- 2007-08 Boston Celtics
- 2007-08 Houston Rockets
- 2012-13 Miami Heat
- 2016 U.S. Olympic team
- 2016 Australia Olympic team
This is wonderful, but it's not perfect. While we appreciate the seven different versions of Michael Jordan the game gives us, there are still a few teams from the past we would love to see in the game. These teams might not be "classic" in the traditional sense, but they would be a lot of fun to control in a video game.
Here are the ones we’d love to use if we ever got a chance.
Even though I was only 8, I could feel the darkness that enveloped the dank-ass U.S. Air Arena, where the Washington Bullets played. Once the envy of the league, the facility more closely resembled a dark cave, except with really good cotton candy. It was the ideal metaphor for a franchise that filled the league with Spurs-ian envy in the ’70s, but slowly descended into irrelevancy in the two decades to follow.
That’s what made the 1995-96 edition an intriguing light at the end of a long tunnel. Finally, the Bullets had prime young talent, even if none of it made sense together. Chris Webber. Juwan Howard. Rasheed Wallace. Gheorghe Muresan (don’t sleep on Big Gheorghe!). In real life, they could never play together and were broken up with no playoff victories to their names. But in my wild basketball fantasies, Webber played point guard like Magic Johnson and everyone else fell in line. How Bucks fans currently feel about Point Giannis, I felt about Point C-Webb. Anything was possible before my innocence was shattered.
Anything is possible in video games. I rest my case.
I'm a long-suffering Knicks fan, and while they're already represented in NBA 2K17 with a couple of historic teams, I'm going to make the case for adding the 1998-99 squad — the last Knicks team to reach the NBA Finals.
Sure, that season wasn't a shining moment in NBA history, considering the lockout that shortened the schedule to 50 games. And guys like Latrell Sprewell and Marcus Camby aren't likely to be popular picks for people asked to name their all-time favorite Knicks. But they came up big after the team squeaked into the playoffs, especially with injuries to Larry Johnson and Patrick Ewing. (I will always remember Johnson's four-point play against the Pacers in the conference finals.)
They could at least put the team in NBA 2K17 so I could try to rewrite the history of Game 5 of the '99 Finals, when the Spurs edged them by a point despite Sprewell dropping 35. Plus, that Knicks team remains the only No. 8 seed in NBA history to make the Finals. Isn’t that historic enough?
Look, I don't have a great argument. But two things stick out in my mind about the Knicks' run that year: LJ's four-point play, and 12-year-old me crying myself to sleep after they lost to the Spurs.
It was the last time I ever really let myself care about the Knicks.
No one ever mistook the LA Clippers of the early ’00s for being good, but you can make a compelling case they were cool. They were responsible for one of the greatest SLAM covers ever. They created their own signature taunt. They even got Darius Miles an IMDB page. With Elton Brand, Lamar Odom, Quentin Richardson, Corey Maggette, and Miles all between 20-22 years old, the Clippers were a perfect NBA cult team in a time before anyone understood what that meant.
The Clippers’ only real problem was that they were built like a video game team instead of one that was supposed to play actual basketball. Miles and Maggette were ideal video games characters — big and fast and able to dunk on anyone. Odom could grab a rebound and take it coast-to-coast for a slam. Richardson could knock down threes. If your only exposure to the NBA was through the prism of PlayStation, you probably thought this team ruled. But by the time the Clippers finally made the playoffs in 2006, most of these dudes were gone.
The Clippers of the early aughts deserved more. They deserve to live forever in NBA 2K.
-Ricky O’Donnell, SBNation.com college basketball editor
Ohhhhh boyyyyy. If you don’t know why this team should be in every version of 2K possible, you’re delusional, or maybe you don’t smoke weed. On Nov. 21, 2002, Damon Stoudamire and Rasheed Wallace were pulled over in a dope, yellow Hummer. The following caused them to be pulled over:
- They were going 84 in a 70 mph zone somewhere between Seattle and Portland after not taking the team bus home.
- After that, officers said they smelled some weed in the car.
- They found, oh I don’t know, around 40 grams of kush, a couple of grams of weed in the glove department and a whatever marijuana residue is on the floor of the Hummer.
- Of course, Sheed and Stoudamire said they didn’t do it, pled “not guilty” in court, and then took separate plea deals before having four more ganja-related incidents in the next 12 months.
Which leads me to my thesis: The 2002-03 Trail Blazers were high. They won 50 games blazed out of their minds and Maurice Cheeks rolled all the blunts. Zach Randolph, Bonzi Wells, old ass Scottie Pippen, Stoudamire, and Sheed dunked loud and huffed loud. Their dealer was Arvydas Sabonis, who often reminded surrounding bystanders they were not chained to the confines of the law. They were free men and free men were Blazers.
And if they weren’t so high, maybe 2K would let us play with them and they wouldn’t have lost in 7 to the Mavs.
I’m a Lakers fan.
I want to play with the best Kings team ever. The team that won the Pacific division with a 61-21 record and made the Western Conference Finals for the first time in 20 years. The team led by Chris Webber, who averaged 25 a game that season, flanked by Mike Bibby, Peja Stojakovic, Vlade Divac, Hedo Turkoglu, and Doug Christie.
I want to play through a season with them to understand the joy and hope that Kings fans had that year. I want to become one with them.
Then, I want to rig the game so that I meet the Lakers in the Western Conference Finals. After going up 3-2 in the series, I want to stop playing in the fourth quarter of Game 6. I want to set the controller down and let the game descend into chaos because of it. That way, I can cackle maniacally as the Kings lose that game and the subsequent Game 7.
Then, I want to start again and replay these same events over and over. I want to revel in what Kings fans believe to be the greatest injustice and worst pain in the NBA. It would bring me such happiness.
The 1992-93 Charlotte Hornets have been in NBA 2K for five years since 2K Sports introduced the "NBA's Greatest" mode (which absolutely needs to come back). They're as nostalgic as any modern team in the game, with sun-cracked bubblegum cards like Kenny Gattison, Muggsy Bogues, Kendall Gill, and Mr. Hornet, Dell Curry, supporting Larry Johnson and Alonzo Mourning.
But my team would be the sophomore season of the franchise, 1989-90. This was the year I saw Stuart Gray, Dick Harter's 7-foot-project, try fight the entire Los Angeles Lakers roster, plus Pat Riley. It was outstanding.
He started by going after James Worthy, the All-American from Gastonia whose number was retired at North Carolina. Gray fouled Worthy hard in our half of the court, and after a stare down, lunged at him. A ripple of confusion went through the crowd, from, Yeah, kick their ass! to Except for his!
Then, Gray shoved Vlade Divac into the photographers on the baseline. Then, Byron Scott came in and the two shoved each other. Michael Cooper came to the rescue and Gray got him in a headlock. Finally, a furious Pat Riley skittered onto the court to pull Gray from Cooper. Gray swung at him.
That's four players and a coach, two of which were Hall of Famers. Gray had zero support from any Hornet, which tells you everything you need to know about how they viewed his presence on the team.
Gray was traded in February, about a month after Harter was canned. The team was a disaster, but did close with a 9-11 run and three-game winning streak to limp into the draft that brought Grandmama to Charlotte.
Stuart Gray was as tall as a creosote utility pole and about as mobile as one, too. I have no idea what his ratings would be, but if 2K Sports gave me the 1989-1990 Hornets, I would make him all-99s, load up the Lakers, and finish the goddamn job.
Because everyone deserves a chance to play as this Charles Barkley.