The popular NBA2K franchise is introducing a new feature in its latest release, NBA2K18: All-Time Teams for each franchise. It’s a dream come true for nostalgic fans, a fantasy lived out on a virtual court, the most beloved players through the ages assembled in a single unit. Except when they got to the Portland Trail Blazers, the 2K people put together a team that not even the most strident Blazermaniac would love.
Here’s the rundown of the roster along with the in-game ranking of each player:
The starting lineup looks fine. Clyde Drexler and Bill Walton are obvious choices. Sentimental fans might argue that Damian Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge are too new and too Spurs-ish (respectively) to make an All-Time starting five, but on merit, talent, and production they qualify. Jerome Kersey rounds out the starting five, which is wholly appropriate. The upper bench is great, with Arvydas Sabonis and Kevin Duckworth tugging at heartstrings, Terry Porter and Kiki Vandeweghe providing incredible offense. The same recency bias that pulls against Lillard in the starting lineup might snatch CJ McCollum off the squad altogether, but he’s a prolific scorer as well and his stats merit inclusion.
But this is where the wheels hit a speed bump the size of Multnomah Falls.
Before we dig into the abominable omissions and inclusions, a caveat. As noted here:
2K has released NBA 2K18 All-Time rosters for all 30 NBA teams. ...not all players will be in the game and that isn’t the fault of 2K. Players have to be in the retired players association or have a deal with 2K. For a variety of reasons, some players simply don’t like video games and don’t want to be associated with it, period.
This should be underlined and understood. It explains (perhaps) why we don’t see Brandon Roy, Maurice Lucas, Rasheed Wallace, Buck Williams, Brian Grant, Geoff Petrie, Cliff Robinson...we could go on. But even if that’s so:
Zach Randolph? His history in Portland isn’t the shiniest. He’s more of a Memphis All-Time Team guy.
Rod Strickland? He put up nice stats and Sabonis liked playing with him, but his second tour of duty was pretty brutal and he didn’t leave the best impression in his wake.
Nicolas Batum and Wesley Matthews: Great role players. All-Time candidates, though?
But even if you discount ALL of that...you put J.R. Rider on the team?
You. Put. J. R. Rider. On Portland’s. All-Time. Team.
If Blazer’s Edge allowed me to use those little clapping hand emojis, they’d be all over that last sentence.
What’s the matter, 2K folks? Was Raymond Felton not available?
Ruben Boumtje-Boumtje would have been a better choice. At least I would have put him in for fun. Now Blazers fans are going to have to write a 2K hack to get Rider off of the bench and out of the locker room before we see the background graphics explode into rubble as the game turns into some kind of Walking Dead drama.
Perhaps next year the 2K19 folks will want to actually ASK people familiar with team history about franchise-defining players instead of just perusing stat lines and entering data. Until then, which omissions (and inclusions) seem most egregious to you? How would you alter the lineup?