10 best NBA video games of all time

Photo by Emanuele Cremaschi/Getty Images
Photo by Emanuele Cremaschi/Getty Images /
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3. NBA Street: Vol. 2

EA Sports had a stranglehold on the basketball video game genre through much of the 1990s until Sega Dreamcast’s NBA 2k entered the marketplace. For the first time in almost a decade, there was real competition for the best NBA video game on the market. While NBA Live still ruled the genre, their stronghold was wavering. EA Sports decided to venture out into an entirely new subgenre of sports games in 2001 when they launched the EA Sports BIG division.

EA Sports would remain true to life while the brand-new EA Sports BIG division would present arcade-style games designed specifically for casual sports fans. The plan worked as EA Sports BIG’s first titles (NFL Street and NBA Street) were both huge successes albeit rough around the edges.

Now, with proof of concept in place, the EA Sports BIG team went to work on a follow-up that could truly become one of the greatest NBA games of all-time. They succeeded with NBA Street: Vol. 2.

Everything great about NBA Street was made better in NBA Street: Vol. 2. A game that completely understood its time and place and perfectly captured the look and feel of streetball. Designed with cell-shaded graphics, NBA Street: Vol. 2 didn’t attempt to be a realistic sports video game but rather one that embraced the arcade-style gameplay. This was less NBA Live or NBA 2k and more of a hip-hop NBA Jam.

NBA Street: Vol. 2 featured four distinct game modes: Pick Up Game, NBA Challenge, Be a Legend and Street School (where users could leave advanced moves). While NBA Street introduced the world to “Gamebreaker”, the modern-day equivalent of NBA Jam’s “On Fire”, NBA Street: Vol. 2 raised the game with a Level Two “Gamebreaker” as well as dozens of new dunks, crossovers and passes.

NBA Street: Vol. 2 was a fantastic diversion from the simulation-style games prominent on the Playstation 2, Xbox and Sega Dreamcast. As you played through the game you earned points allowing you to purchase new players, jerseys and courts. Each NBA Street: Vol. 2 game was played in three-on-three with a collection of players both past and present. If you wanted to team Julius Erving with Vince Carter and Tracy McGrady, you could. If you wanted to create an “All-Jordan” team with retro versions of Michael Jordan as well as the present-day Washington Wizards Jordan, you could.

More than anything, NBA Street: Vol. 2 is just fun. From the moment you start the game up and hear the infectious “T.R.O.Y.” beat by famed hip-hop producer Pete Rock, you know you’re in for a good time.

Every noise, every bounce of the ball, every rim-rattling dunk, it’s all fun. NBA Street: Vol. 2, unlike many of its simulation counterparts at the time, didn’t require expertise to play and excel at, it was the ultimate pick up and play game ideal for playing with a group of friends.

There have been better NBA video games in history, but I’m not sure there was a more fun one.