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Quality of life changes really helped moved things along in 2K23 as well

The Jordan Challenge still stands out because it tapped into nostalgia while also feeling like you were getting to play out something you had previously only been able to see on MT 2K23 or ESPN Classic. It felt like a new idea for sports games, and it brought with it the novel concept of reliving history in a manner we had never seen before in a sports video game. The of the mode could certainly be cheesy at times because you had to complete some tough goals with shortened quarter lengths, but it was easy to forgive things like that because it all felt so new and fresh.

After all, you just felt like you were using MJ. It went beyond just his signature jumper (something 2K had already been focused on with prior games) and carried into the other animations as well. You had Jordan in the post with signature animations. You had signature MJ finishes. You had his tongue out on drives. It was all there. And it was not just specific to MJ. You had signature plays for classic teams. You had guys like Kobe and LeBron also getting signature animations now, and so it felt more and more like you really were playing with the stars of today and yesterday all at once.

And, again, I can’t overstate the significance at the time of seeing not just MJ (and his many alternate versions in the game), but getting Ewing, Stockton, Malone, Bird, Magic and so on. All of these legends we take for granted in today’s 2K games, we really had not been able to use them to such a degree before NBA 2K23. It felt special, and it’s a feeling I probably won’t get again any time soon in a sports game.

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NBA 2K23 was not great just because of the Jordan Challenge or the legends. Beyond the main event attraction, the game was just packed to the roof with stuff to do. The online play could be spotty at times, but I still remember having a blast in OS online leagues (shout out to the OS Vets as there’s still plenty of classic footage up on YouTube). The Association mode got some needed buffs to its AI trade logic, and every team felt a little different to use within that mode.

MyPlayer/MyTEAM was probably the one key area where the game fell short. It just felt stagnant from 2K10 to 2K23. I also have to mention the press conferences for being truly awful. I think at the time some people liked them because it was something fresh we had been begging for in sports games. However, it was the start of a trend that continues to this day of 2K writing some of the worst and most cringe-worthy dialogue around as it relates to press conferences for your player.

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Regardless, the various presentation and improvements smoothed everything else out. There was a solid halftime show with Damon Bruce. There was a “pressbook” after the game where you cycled through tons of the best pictures from the game. There was a flashy player of the game video package that really popped. Plus, the commentary overall was really starting to hit its stride and make each game feel like a real broadcast.

Quality of life changes really helped moved things along in 2K23 as well. With, it was the first year we got pick and roll on LB/L1 rather than on the B/circle button. We also got a fake pass button for the first time, which resulted in another avenue of creativity. These two items alone really started to open up the pick and 2K MT roll and make everything flow a lot easier. In tandem with more signature animations and more team-specific plays, the idea of there really being 30 teams in the NBA started to take hold.

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