NBA 2K14 – Quantum Hoop Episode 8: The End of the Lie

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I want you to destroy Sam Beckett Jr.
Don’t worry, I’m going to run him all around the court.
No, I want you to kill him.
Yeah, I’m going to kill his unsustainable shooting percentage.
Listen, you need to murder him.
Exactly, murder his all star game chances.
Argh
Your first game against Jackson Ellis is coming up. How are you going to prepare?
Getting into a fight with Jason Richardson, of course.
That’s not productive…
You’re going down, Beckett.
We’ll see.
Fuck, embarassed myself again!
You disappoint me, Ellis.
I don’t even know who you are.
I’m Dr. Sam Beckett
That doesn’t make any sense!
Or maybe it makes too much sense.
No. No it doesn’t!

NBAgif

Well, Al, I soundly beat Jason Ellis in Detroit and the 76ers are actually playing like a good team.
This is going more smoothly than expected.
I wouldn’t get too used to it.
Why not?
I suspect that there is more than meets the eye about this situation.
Why is that?
If it’s really going to be this easy, then the run up to March 29 is going to be a slog.
I said “smoothly” not “easy”.
I still have to wear that stupid clown nose in public.
We should get some pictures of that to send back to everyone at the office.
Did you know they don’t use film to take pictures anymore?
What? Polaroid finally won?
It’s all digital.
Digital? Like 1s and 0s?
I guess so.
How does that even work?
I don’t know, but my phone can take unlimited pictures.
What’s the use of putting a camera on a phone? How many pictures can you take of your own living room?
Get this… I’m talking about a mobile phone.
You’re messing with me.
It’s smaller than my wallet.
And it’s made by Apple.
Now I know you’re just making this up.
My ex-wife invested in Apple. Terrible decision.
I hope she didn’t sell.
Or maybe I do, depending on how spiteful you are.

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NBA 2k14 – Quantum Hoop Episode 7: Motor City Showdown

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Hey kid, sorry about your disease.
Now wear this clown nose.
Really?
Really.
This is humiliating.
But I am suddenly scoring a ton.
You’re really kicking ass, kid. Let’s go out on the town.

couch2

Oh god…
That was a worse decision than the clown nose.
Pull it together, Sam! Your first game against Jackson Ellis is almost here!

Justdetroit

Are you ready for what you have to do?
Don’t you worry, after what he did to me in the draft showcase…
I’m going to destory Sam Beckett Jr.
That’s what I like to hear.
I don’t get it. Why is all this so important?
You’ve gone to a lot of trouble to make sure everything goes right on March 29.
What is this about? Money? Power?
Oh, nothing so simple.
This is about freedom. Opportunity. Justice. The founding principles of this country.
So some deep shit?
Everything went astray, Jackson.
This is not the world our fathers built for us.
It isn’t?
Listen to me, Jackson.
Our time is fleeting on this planet.
We are born, we die, and we fade away.
I ain’t gonna fade away.
You’re missing the point, Jackson.
In the end, all we have is what we have left for those that come after.
And I intend to return the world to the way it should be.
Oh, like Katniss standing up to the Capitol?
Uh… Yes. Exactly like that.
But that was undermined by the actions of the–
Quiet! I haven’t read the books. I’m only watching the movies.
That’s a shame.
I don’t have many people to talk to about the books.
Everyone else in the locker room is the same way. Just waiting for the movies.
My time is valuable. I’m trying to change the world.
Yeah, but do we really want the world changed by someone who doesn’t read?
I read!
It’s just mostly nonfiction.
That’s what they all say.
You don’t even know me!
Yeah, I bet it’s hard to read what with you being all up in the shadows all the time.
Not good for your eyesight.
So, does that mean you’re gonna get some lights and let me see your face?
No. You’re not ready to understand yet.
Now you have a job to do. You must destroy Sam Beckett Jr.
Don’t worry. I look forward to it.

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So, Al, can you ask Ziggy 2.0 what the hell is up with the media these days?
What do you mean?
All they want to talk about is this game against Jackson Ellis.
It’s like they’ve forgotten about my illness or my clown nose.
Well, you remember ESPN, right? And how crazy it was there was 24 hour sports channel?
Yeah.
Now there’s ESPN, ESPN 2, ESPN 3, ESPN Classic, ESPN Deportes, ESPN After Dark–
ESPN After Dark? I don’t think my TV gets that one.
You have to be a member of the Bohemian Club to receive ESPN After Dark.
What’s on it?
You ever want to see a live feed from inside Derek Jeter’s bedroom?
They spy on baseball players?
Nah, Jeter is totally into it.
Anyway, this is all without even touching the Fox Sports networks.
And a million websites.
What does this have to do with everyone obsessing about me vs. Ellis?
With all these outlets, all competing, the media has a short attention span.
They can only focus on the immediate controversy, and forget about everything else.
Even a guy making up a disease?
You should be glad that the media isn’t looking into it more.
You could have ended up on NCIS: ESPN.

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NBA 2k14 – Quantum Hoop Episode 6: Beckett the Red-Nosed SG

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Holy shit look at all this free VC we have.
You should probably use it to become a useful player.
And buy a Hawaiian shirt.
What? No, why would I?

tropical

Damn it.
Hey, kid, you’re doing okay except your free throws are terrible.
Lay off Beckett, coach.
He can’t hit free throws because he’s suffering from Multiple Dystrophy.
What? No, I–
Yeah, and there’s no cure for Multi D.
It’s not even a real–
I don’t know how long he has.
Oh boy…

coaches office after the game

Kid, you should have told me about your disease.
How did this not come up in the pre-draft interviews?
Your story is an amazing tale of American ingenuity and dedication.
About that “disease”, there’s something you should know.
Thaddeus says that it affects the nerves and the muscles.
The fact that you can play basketball at all is amazing, especially after healthcare reform.
You know, coach, Thaddeus says a lot of things that aren’t true.
Maybe given the media attention surrounding your disease, we should change things up.
Oh god there’s media attention now?
I was thinking I’d increase your playing time.
Oh, well, in that case…

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Sam, what the hell were you thinking?
Are you really going to let this lie continue?
It’s gotten too big for me now.
And whose fault is that?
Thaddeus Young!
He’s a compulsive liar. He can’t help himself. But you…
I don’t know how else I’m going to get playing time.
So you’re going to pretend to have a disease that doesn’t exist?
This is going to end terribly, and you know it.
I only have to pretend until March 29, right? Then I leap out and–
And your son has to deal with the blowback of your terrible decision.
Because eventually people are going to find out.
I don’t want to mess things up for junior. But right now, I’m desperate.
We’re still not even sure what happens on March 29, Sam.
It’s a basketball game against the Pistons and Jackson Ellis. I’m pretty sure the 76ers have to win.
And I’m sure you’ve noticed that the 76ers are terrible.
The solution can’t be to lie about a terminal disease to get playing time!
I’m not lying. I’m just not correcting Thaddeus.
Oh, don’t get technical with me, Sam.
Al, I’m willing to do whatever it takes to bring this team together and win on March 29.
Anything, huh?

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NBA 2K14 – Quantum Hoop Episode 4: In Which Sam Beckett Becomes a N00b Feeder

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Alright I’m on the way to my next game.
Not so fast, we need to download a patch.
FUCK.

Inthecar

Alright, Al, are we ready to go now?
Among other things we addressed a discrepancy between dynamic goals and social media messages.
I don’t know what that means.
Maybe you should check out your stats before you head to the game.

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NBA 2K14 – Quantum Hoop Episode 1: The Far Flung Future

Huh, basketball again? At least it’s a sport I know I can handle.
Still, something doesn’t seem right. If I’m playing basketball, why am I wearing long pants?
And why are there ads for Sprite everywhere I look?
Man, I’ve been looking all over for you. Should have known you’d be here.
Just working on my moves. Say, when did all these Sprite ads appear?
Sprite ads? That’s what you’re worried about?
I was worried about what year I’d leapt into. This didn’t feel like any time I’d been to before.
Just wondering, that’s all.
You don’t even want to know why I’m so excited?
Take a look at this: an invite to the Rookie Showcase in New York.
This is your ticket to the first round of the draft.
This is amazing!
An easily identified obstacle and goal…and I’ve only been here five minutes!
Man, what the hell are you talking about? Are you high? Or are you just dehydrated?
Sounds like you need a nice, refreshing can of Sprite.
The mystery just deepened.
Look, I don’t care what you have to do. Snap out of it. We’ve got work to do.
Don’t worry about me. Just let me see that invite and…
Wait, does this say it’s 2013???

ohboytest

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Experiences in Old Sports Games: NBA Jam

Legend has it that basketball was invented on a rainy day in the December of 1891. At the time, James Naismith, a physical education teacher and aspiring medical doctor, was teaching at a Massachusetts YMCA when the idea struck him. He had just attained the age of thirty, and being that life expectancy was far shorter at this time, he had begun to suffer a terrible midlife crisis. He’d taken up the opium pipe, he had spent the last of his cash on a sleek red soft-top horse, and now he was reconsidering future medical career. His mind was full of wistful thoughts of his childhood dream of becoming a great actor, dashed by Federal law preventing the exhibition of Canadians upon a stage.

It was this shattered dream, his professional training, and the need to make enough quick cash for his next horse payment that led to the development of the game that would be his legacy. Basketball, a sport played by actor-athletes, requiring both the skill to accurately lob a ball and the talent to pretend to be injured. Each match would appear to be decided by the players on the court, but the outcome would ultimately be controlled by the referees, allowing Naismith, who hand-picked the refs, to profit from the burgeoning sports betting industry without appearing suspicious.

I can't believe there is literally a picture of James Naismith with a ball in one hand and a basket in the other.

I can’t believe there is literally a picture of James Naismith with a ball in one hand and a basket in the other.

Basketball was a hit at the YMCA, where a number of boys had been seeking a socially acceptable outlet for their theatrical talents. The game spread to classical repertory companies, art schools, and even theatrical prep academies across the country. Professional squads, barnstorming and hustling from town to town, turned massive profits and soon consolidated, like the WWF, into a National Basketball Association. This brings me to this week’s game: NBA Jam.

nba_jam_title_screen

NBA Jam, a 1993 release in arcades which was followed up by ports onto almost every conceivable home console, is one of the most successful sports games of all time.  It didn’t just make it big across multiple platforms, but also helped spawn an entire genre: the ridiculously over the top arcade sports game.  Sure, we had Base Wars before NBA Jam, and even NBA Jam owes a debt to its predecessor Arch Rivals, but the idea of taking a sport and distilling it down to the most simple actions, then cranking those actions up to Michael Bay levels originated here.  Without NBA Jam, we would have never seen NFL: Blitz, The Bigs, NHL Hitz, or the only good argument I’ve ever seen for owning a Kinect, Diabolical Pitch.

In NBA Jamthe number of actors allowed on the court per team is lowered from five to two.  This services multiple purposes.  First, it is a function of NBA Jam’s origins as an arcade game.  With only four actors on the court at any given time–two per team–each one can be controlled by a different person standing at the arcade cabinet.  A four player arcade game can generate twice as much revenue as a two player game, and the idea of having every single participant in the basketball game controlled by a human was appealing.  Second, it limited the number of sprites on screen, allowing a level of detail in the players that was fairly remarkable for 1993.

Wow, it really looks like a horribly monstrous version of Patrick Ewing.

Wow, it really looks like a horribly monstrous version of Patrick Ewing.

Like all video games, NBA Jam was a product of its times.  In 1993, the United States was still reeling from the hangover after the raucous party that was the 1980s.  In my post about RBI Baseball, I referenced the singular focus on individuality that was mocked by the simplification of the game of baseball.  NBA Jam does not subvert that fixation, but rather embraces it.  Basketball ceases to become a team performance, and rather focuses on the acting skills of two players.  But this isn’t about the way that media downplays collaborative effort in favor of individual performances.  This is about something else.

Known for signing the North American Three Point Agreement, President William Jefferson Clinton was fond of sinking the three pointer from down town, if you know what I mean.

Known for signing the North American Three Point Agreement, President William Jefferson Clinton was fond of sinking the ball from downtown, if you know what I mean.

On February 28, 1993, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms commenced a raid on the Mount Carmel Center compound, home of the Branch Davidians religious sect.  The raid resulted in a siege of the compound that lasted almost two months, captivated the American public, and ended in a massive fire that killed the majority of the Branch Davidians, including their leader David Koresh.  The Waco siege was a particularly unusual chapter in modern U.S. history, and set the stage for everything from the entrenchment of the survivalist ethos to the Oklahoma City bombing of 1995.  It was also the unconscious inspiration for NBA Jam.

To understand the relationship between the Waco siege and an arcade basketball game, we have to start at the beginning.  Specifically, with the Branch Davidian religion.  Branch Davidianism is a sect of a sect of a sect of a sect.  They broke off from the Davidian Seventh Day Adventists, which based their teachings off of a two book series (entitled Shepherd’s Rods) by the reformist Victor Houteff.  The Davidian Seventh Day Adventists were, naturally, a sect of the Seventh Day Adventists, which themselves are the largest sect of the Adventist protestant movement.

This image of the siege is the very first google image search result for "Waco", which really sucks for a town with a rich history like that other time it exploded just last April.

This image of the siege is the very first google image search result for “Waco”, which really sucks for a town with a rich history like that other time it exploded just last April.

Adventism has its roots in the teachings of William Miller, a mid-19th century preacher who taught that the return of Jesus was just around the corner.  Miller’s downfall was like that of so many similar men, in that he gave a precise date to the second coming–October 22, 1844–and when it didn’t happen most people rightfully stopped taking him so seriously. Some, however, decided to cut Miller a bit of slack and give him the benefit of the doubt.  Jesus didn’t come back on October 22, 1844, but that didn’t mean he didn’t start getting ready.  Essentially, the remaining Adventists decided that William Miller had the right date, but that it wasn’t the date of Jesus’s return but rather the day he started packing his bags to eventually return.

See, my son, I told you that satan does not have a kickin' rad rear projection TV like I do.  ...what?  He has a plasma?

See, my son, I told you that satan does not have a kickin’ rad rear projection TV like I do. …what? He has a plasma?

Now, as we all know, Jesus doesn’t have to worry about having a variety of daywear and eveningwear on his journey back to Earth, so he isn’t packing his bags with clothes.  Rather, he’s filling his luggage with souls.  And the reason he is taking his time is because he wants to make sure he takes along the right souls.  This process is known as “Investigative Judgment”.  Seventh Day Adventists are big into Investigative Judgment, which has led to a conservative mindset among the movement.  They also have returned to celebrating the Sabbath on a Saturday, but that makes perfect sense because it makes NCAA Football players heathens rather than NFL players.

Salvation up front, party in the back.

Salvation up front, party in the back.

The Davidians shared the belief in the Investigative Judgment, but specifically diverted from the mainstream Seventh Day Adventist movement by embracing the importance of prophecy, vegetarianism, and, later, disclaiming Israel as the pre-Millennial kingdom.  Meanwhile, the Branch Davidians differed from the Davidians by moving up the date of Jesus’s judgment to 1955 and, for a time, incorporating some unexpected feminist teachings into the religion.  Unfortunately, all the good–or at least pleasantly radical–stuff was stricken from the religion and upon the death of Lois Roden, who was their leader throughout the late 70s and early 80s.  The majority of the religion was taken over by David Koresh, who banned the feminist teachings of Roden and turned the Branch Davidians into a run-of-the-mill crazy survivalist sect led by a run-of-the-mill charismatic who wants to be Jesus except without all the Teaching Good Things and instead Molesting Underage Girls.

NBA Jam is basically to basketball what Branch Davidianism is to mainstream Christianity.  The rules and customs of the sport have been filtered through a number of iterations.  Basketball evolved into NBA Basketball, which was forced into the two-on-two format NES game Arch Rivals, which, like the splintering of the Davidians into the Branch Davidians, transformed into the madness of NBA Jam.  

And then everyone caught on fire.

That's it.  That's the punchline.

That’s it. That’s the punchline.

I was lazy with this one because I’m still playing too much Grand Theft Auto V and watching near-playoff baseball.  Also fuck trying to get a Sega Saturn emulator working, that’s just a time sink.  I’ll be back with a real post next week, I promise.