10 best NBA video games of all time

Photo by Emanuele Cremaschi/Getty Images
Photo by Emanuele Cremaschi/Getty Images /
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10. One on One: Dr. J vs. Larry Bird

One on One: Dr. J vs. Larry Bird isn’t a good game.

Well, at least not by 2020 standards. However, you can’t make a list of greatest or most influential NBA or basketball video games without mentioning the one that kickstarted the genre. Developed by famed Electronic Arts developer Trip Hawkins, One on One is, you guessed it, a 1 vs. 1 game between “Dr. J” Julius Erving and Larry Bird. Video games were still in their primitive stages at the time but Hawkins and EA’s dedication and future dominance of the genre would be clear with the level of work that went into this game. Like when they developed John Madden Football years down the road, Hawkins and EA actually elicited help from Erving on how to make the game as realistic and true to life as possible.

The result was a game that is clearly of its time without the bells and whistles of games that would come in the next decade. However, most of those games that flooded shelves over the next decade were thrown together, half-assed recreations of pro basketball. Few games matched One on One until the mid-90s, a testament to Hawkins and EA’s expertise of video game development.

One on One allowed players to play to a certain score or a time. When controlling on offense, players could spin and shoot while defenders could block or steal. The game even featured a broken backboard animation decades before NBA Jam made it popular. The animation of One on One was incredible for the time period and the game sold tremendously well.

One on One would set the stage for every other game on this list but more specifically with the NBA Live series as Electronic Arts became a leading force in the genre of not only basketball but sports video games in general.