It’s Video Game Week here at SB Nation and, as the new season has tipped off for the Phoenix Suns, I’m looking backwards in their franchise history to answer one simple question. I’ll get to that inquiry in a moment (or you could read the title of this piece and probably figure out what I’m going to ask).
When talking about video games and the Phoenix Suns, the last 10 years haven’t been too kind. Granted, NBA 2K22 has Phoenix rated as an overall 82 — tied for the 3rd best team in the game — but as technology and gaming systems were getting better, the Suns were not.
When the PS4 came out on November 15, 2013, the first game I purchased was NBA 2K14. Sadly, Phoenix was the 26th best team in the game and led by, as Bleacher Report designated, the most overrated player in the Pacific Division, an 82-overall Eric Bledsoe. Thankfully we had the Barkley-less Classic Teams, am I right?
As an avid gamer — although not as avid as I used to be (damn adulthood) — the 2K series will always have a special place in my heart. If you recall, the original version of NBA 2K that had one of my favorite players of all-time, Allen Iverson, on the cover was released in December of 1999 for the Sega Dreamcast. I was 17 years-old and loved my Dreamcast, and that game was indeed a dream.
I remember playing NBA 2K4 with Stephon Marbury and rookie Amare Stoudemire…I dominated the paint with STAT. It was literally the last thing I did before hopping into a taxi — kids, this is how we traveled pre-Uber — and heading off to basic training. My last grasp of normalized civilization was hitting the sticks and running the pick-and-roll with Starbury and STAT.
Going back even further, NBA Jam was revolutionary. The original game was released by Midway — the same peeps who developed Mortal Kombat — in the arcades of 1993 (Kiddos, I’m not going to spend time explaining what an arcade is and how effing badass arcades they were to visit). The 2-on-2 format with out-of-this-world animation and gravity defying moves was action packed and mesmerizing. Couple that with all of the Easter eggs — hell, you could play as Bill Clinton — and it was the pinnacle of gaming.
When NBA Jam: Tournament Edition was released, I thought games couldn’t get any better. I remember sitting next to my best friend in sixth grade woodshop class at Creighton Middle School and all we would do was look at a magazine with all of the codes to the game. I should have been making a paperweight. Instead I was endlessly writing down codes (this was just as the Internet was coming online. Before then, you had to do the work if you wanted them codes!).