NBA 2K11 might be my favorite video game of all time. It was the first basketball video game that actually let you call out plays that worked and, after a little while, get your players to go where you wanted them to go on the court and legitimately beat guys off the dribble instead of having the defender fall down after watching a crossover.
I never got tired of running Steph Curry off picket-fence screens along the baseline to open him up for three, converting and-1s with LeBron in transition, or making a read on a sideline pick-and-roll. (I will note that I have played my colleague Rob Mahoney online a few times, and he does none of those things. He takes crazy gambles on defense and has one guy go right at the rim after dribbling around for a while. I have yet to beat him. So there’s that.)
I don’t get as excited about the “classic” stuff as most people do — for reasons I can’t really explain to anyone but myself, I need my sports video games to have some realism to them, mostly because I fake-broadcast my games against the computer, and I need explanations for why Tim Duncan and Prime Hakeem Olajuwon are playing on the same team or against each other. Likewise, I didn’t love 2K11’s Jordan Challenge nearly as much as I loved the other game modes, because the 8-minute quarters and statistical qualifiers forced me to have MJ shoot on every possession, which ran counter to all the things I loved about the normal gameplay — the play-calling and ball-sharing.
However, 2k12’s intro video does heavily feature historical players playing against current players, and I have to admit it’s pretty cool to see the Dream Shake, Kareem’s Skyhook, and the Dream Shake in the game. (Which reminds me: hopefully NBA 2K12 releases a better manual for all the post moves this time around, even if it’s online. I never could figure out how to string together counter-moves like the computer could against me, even after doing all the tutorials.)
Add Kobe Bryant to don’t change hack-a-player crowd
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver is starting to feel differently. He realizes he runs an entertainment business and a parade of guys to the free throw line without because of a non-basketball play — you can’t begin to tell me fouling a guy 50 feet from the ball is a basketball play in the spirit of the rules — is bad for that business. It is unwatchable. And while every coach in the NBA “I hate to do it” they all do it with more and more frequency, there will be more than twice as many instances this season as there were a year ago, with more and more players involved. Because it works, and because they are paid to win, not play beautiful basketball.
Change is coming. Old-school types always bemoan change, and that’s not just a basketball thing. But the rest of the world has rules in place to stop this because they realize it’s not basketball, it’s gaming the system. And it needs to change.
Timofey Mozgov with maybe “best” missed dunk of the season (VIDEO)
While the Timberwolves have plenty of question marks around him, but Towns has been exceptional. Coming into Monday night, he was averaging 21.6 points (on 59.9 percent shooting) and 12.7 rebounds a night in his last 10 games.
The summer of 2016 is all about Kevin Durant — and we don’t know what Durant is going to do as a free agent because Durant doesn’t yet know what Durant is going to do as a free agent. Stay in Oklahoma City, bolt to the Bay Area or maybe Washington D.C.? These playoffs, meetings with teams and his advisors, plus personal factors all will play a role in Durant’s decision. Which he will get around to announcing in early July sometime.
But the sense around the league is that while Durant may very well stay in Oklahoma City, Russell Westbrook was drawn to the bright lights of big markets. If an elite player were to bolt OKC, this was the more likely guy. Westbrook is a free agent in 2017.
The Knicks have a real chance to sell Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook in 2017 – New York and Porzingis have his attention, yes – and Jackson ought to start constructing an elite coaching staff to begin that process with Westbrook and with free agents beyond him.
Come 2017, expect Westbrook to meet with a number of big market teams on both coasts, and then make a decision. The summer of 2017 is a couple of NBA lifetimes away, it’s impossible to say what Westbrook will do (he may well decide to stay in OKC if they win enough), but the big market teams looking for a star will get their turn in the batter’s box.
Which is why I still think Durant signs a 1+1 deal this summer to stay in Oklahoma City for another season — he’s going to give everything another chance to come together for the Thunder, then when the salary cap is at its peak in 2017 (an estimated $108 million) he makes his peak seasons decision. He and Westbrook and Serge Ibaka will all be free agents at the same time, and they can make their calls.