The 13th Chamber: My experiences in NBA 2K17’s ‘My League’ mode

Jordan Bishop,

Entertainment Blogger,

@Jordanbishop35

 

Somewhere, in an alternate universe, Mike Conley leads a ragtag basketball team/rap troop on a quest for global, deep-fried chicken domination. Mark Runyon, Flickr

Somewhere, in an alternate universe, Mike Conley leads a ragtag basketball team/rap troop on a quest for global, deep-fried chicken domination.
Mark Runyon, Flickr

Video games are a wonderful thing.

The NBA 2K series is one of the most interactive sports game titles of all time. Madden might be king but to me, 2K is where it’s at. I don’t know if it’s the superior soundtrack, the great commentating or the graphics, but I love 2K.

The great thing about the game is its tendency to let you use your imagination. While Madden lets you move teams, it doesn’t let you design jerseys or customize the stadium. 2K embraces it. While the My Player mode gets put down a lot because of its implied stereotyping, which the Spike Lee “Freq” mode in 2K16 was straight up racist, the game still has its strong points in Play Now and My League.

The best thing to do in My League is to get a bunch of your friends and pick a division, any division, and each of you get teams from that division. Then, you have a fantasy draft and after that, just enjoy the mayhem.

My roommates and I have done that the past two years, and although I’m OK at the game, I always manage to lose. However, this year, I vowed to be different. Instead of going straight for rebounding as I did last year with Rudy Gobert and Andrew Bogut (God, they were slow), I decided to pick a group of guys who each had their own skills. There would be no all-star. It would be a team effort.

Because one of my roommates is from Florida, we picked the Southeast Division with myself going with the Atlanta Hawks, clear from the start with the city that I was going to move them when the season started. Atlanta was angry with me until I promised to put a Donald Glover decal on the court to appease them. They acquiesced.

Although I had the 27th pick in the snake draft, I did my best and at the end of the 13 rounds, I felt I had a solid core (Don’t worry, I will get to them). When the season began, I started the relocation process and this, by far, is where 2K succeeds. For no cost at all, you can relocate your entire franchise and build a new arena in a city across the country in a day. A DAY!!! That’s right Madden, none of this wait three years’ crap. In the NBA, you apparently have the money that Jon Lovitz’ character has in “The Benchwarmers.”

While my first choice of city, the newly sanctioned city of Havana, Cuba, wasn’t available, I still decided to move. Where should I go? Athens, Georgia was an option and I thought it would be hilarious to piss off the Hawks fans, but I wasn’t that cruel. My fictional owner might be Jerry Jones, but he’s no Clay Bennett.

Against better judgement, I decided to move to the suburbs of Louisville, Kentucky. I’m hoping my construction company built the arena right by Churchill Downs, that would be awesome. Here is where it gets interesting, what was I to name my team? Louisville already had the KFC Yum! Center for the college team so I had to have something different. Why not Chicken Express Arena?

So it was, the Louisville Corn Nuggets were born. I would like to think someone voted for it as a joke in the local papers but because no one reads the papers anymore, he was the only one who voted and therefore the team was stuck with the name.

Then, it was time to design the arena. Chicken Express’s main color is yellow, so why not go full Boise State and make my entire court highlighter yellow. By adding such features as sideline art touting the perks of grease and diabetes, I feel I reflected my city well.

Designing an arena in 2K is one of the greatest things a human being can do on a Tuesday night (unless you’re Shia Labeouf). For one, the logos you can use are countless and because you’re connected online, you can either add your own logos or use somebody else’s. In this year’s edition there are a countless number of Harambe memorials and even dab art. Memes are everywhere.

Chicken Express Arena Jordan Bishop, O'Colly

Chicken Express Arena
Jordan Bishop, O’Colly

Because of this, Chicken Express Arena was covered with Los Pollos Hermanos, Wilford Brimley, my olive branch offering of Donald Glover and many more. This is why 2K excels. The game leaves the customization in your hands and doesn’t control it. The NFL is already taking the fun out of the game by fining celebrations, they shouldn’t take it out of the video game as well.

Who cares what is realistic? Forcing your players to train in an awful kaleidoscopic arena is fun, and that’s what you pay $60 for.

After my team started 3-8, it decided for a culture change to fight against the new landscape. As the owner, I let the players decided what uniform they wanted to wear. The next day they presented me with a solid color option. Yellow and black with a giant Wu-Tang Clan logo on the front of the jersey along with their first and last names on the back.

To me, it added an alternate dimension to this fictional universe. My players knew they were in a terrible arena and were being made fun of, so they decided to pick the Wu-Tang as a form of silent protest. Instead of being a Roger Goodell, I allowed it. (Alone, the money from Wu-Tang sales would help pay off my coach’s new Maserati).

Then a funny thing happened, the Corn Nuggets started to win games, fueled by their love for the Wu-Tang. Later on in the week, my first draft pick Mike Conley said the team wanted the Donald Glover decal removed from the court floor. Not only because the players hated the city of Atlanta but also because Glover (genius he may be) took his name from the Wu-Tang Clan name generator. Conley thought it was disrespectful. Because he had been playing so well, I allowed it to be taken off and replaced it with the “Prison Mike” meme from “The Office.”

The Corn Nuggets continued winning games and after a while, the media began to write stories about these basketball players enamored with the Wu-Tang gangsta death rap. Soon, the players themselves became inducted into the Clan in a ceremony presided over by RZA himself.

The eclectic group of players gave themselves names and even made a rap video that was kind of like the Chicago Bears’ Super bowl Shuffle but with more fire and less happiness. The Corn Nuggets, now 7-9, were put on NBA’s most wanted posters all around the league with descriptions such as these.

Overpriced Muggle Jordan Bishop, O"Colly

Overpriced Muggle
Jordan Bishop, O”Colly

Mike Conley AKA Overpriced Muggle– The leader of this group can be seen usually leading the point of attack. While he lacks many of the skills that warrant his humongous contract, he makes up for it with his quick wit and talent on the microphone. Players young and old look up to him. When he’s on the bench, Conley can be seen conducting record deals with Jimmy Iovine.

Wesley Matthews AKA Phantom Observer- While the shooting guard has failed to live up to hype on the court. He has become a huge hit on the team’s tracks. With such songs as “Don’t cause a fuss” and “Who cares I missed a 3, there’s always another chance” Matthews might have a future in the rap game once his NBA career inevitably ends.

Gordon Hayward AKA Young Draper- Hayward might look like he doesn’t belong in this group but don’t be fooled. His milky white skin and hair by Adonis might disguise him, but he helps keep the group afloat on and off the court. Acting as the Corn Nuggets’ Frank Sinatra of sorts, he keeps the group in a favorable light with the media and of course, the ladies.

Amir Johnson AKA Ol’ Broke Foot- Johnson might not have contributed much to the team’s on-court success because of his health problems, but he has done much of the roadie work for the players’ local rap concerts. Expected to cause quite a ruckus when he returns to the lineup.

Bismack Biyombo AKA Dynamic Dynamo- While the alliterative real and fake names might cause one to think Biyombo is an unintelligent child, you would be wrong. The man looks 40 and acts it as well with huge putback dunks on the court and part-time bouncing off of it.

Raul Neto AKA Rico Sauve- A man who is both an acolyte of Hayward based on his looks but also an apprentice of Conley because of his defense. Neto is a solid sixth man on the court and is always ready for a guest verse in the videos.

J.R. Smith AKA Shirtless Samurai- Smith is the troublemaker of the group. Known for going on 87-hour drinking binges after a 3-for-5 night from beyond the arc, Smith wears his jersey as a bandana during games. Although he frequents the local jails, Smith has never been incarcerated for too long and always mysteriously makes it out in time for when a new song drops.

Terrence Ross AKA Mad Hunter- Ross is fueled by the fire of a thousand suns, nah mean? Angry at the ownership for sitting him behind Matthews, Ross is known to engage in fights when on the court and broods in the corner during music videos. His lyrics are always dark and full of malice toward the world because of his position. Currently leading his own separate clan.

Jonas Jerebko AKA Posterizin’ Paladin- Jerebko has taken Johnson’s place amongst the starting lineup on and off the court. His Swedish lyrics make the group a crossover hit while his rebounding tenacity has him up for a sure-fire Most Improved Player of the year award.

Festus Ezili AKA Cousin Fester- Known for standing in a corner and doing weird sh*t. Ezili is not used much but when he is, he definitely makes it an experience one won’t soon forget. Ezili is known to stare at ceiling fans for hours until it’s gametime. He doesn’t contribute anything in terms of lyrics but somehow makes for a great DJ.

The Birdman Jordan Bishop, O'Colly

The Birdman
Jordan Bishop, O’Colly

Chris Andersen AKA the Birdman- The heart and soul of the time, the ageless wonder that is Andersen packs the muscle for the team. While Biyombo is the team’s full-time bouncer, Birdman brings the entourage. Because of his recent past with biker gangs, Andersen has brought along the Hell’s Angels to spread the Corn Nuggets words across the land. Andersen can be seen causing the smoke cloud in the music videos by lighting up his never-ending supply of cigarettes.

Marcelo Huertas AKA Diversified Trader- A late-round draft pick, Huertas has become a jack-of-all-trades for the Corn Nuggets and is currently in charge of distribution.  Huertas along with Neto are in charge of earning the Latino demographic but because of Neto’s extended playing time, Huertas has taken more responsibility in the distribution department.

Seth Curry AKA Lil Chef- Because of perceived hatred toward his older brother, Seth decided to join the group as an act of defiance. Although he is seldom used aside from when the Corn Nuggets play in Oakland, Seth has appreciated having a role all of his own with his new family.

Troy Daniels AKA Hungry Acolyte- Daniels, a selection off the waiver wire gets less playing time then Curry but is used frequently as a hype man in the team’s music videos. His history with hip-hop give him credence over any other specialist in the league.

The NBA has come to know and fear this group of psychosomatic pyromaniacs but yet, the NBA has continued to let them exist. The players’ chemistry continues to grow with each win and they have become so feared, no one laughs at the fact they’re called the Corn Nuggets anymore.

Just to think, because of 2K, I had created an alternate dimension where a team funded by a fast-food company had become a rapping sensation that someone could write 2,000 words about.

Because of small editions like this and allowing you to use your imagination, the NBA 2K series is why video games can be such a wonderful thing.

ozone@ocolly.com

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