Michael Jordan

What’s left to say about Michael that hasn’t been said already?  His entire career was laid out before your eyes in NBA 2K11, including the major games that ultimately shaped his legacy.  In ‘NBA’s Greatest’, we are going to honor MJ by pitting him against one of the most exciting and energetic teams of the early 90s, the 1992-93 Charlotte Hornets, led by none other than Larry Johnson, Alonzo Mourning, and Mugsy Bogues.

The Teams

1992-93 Bulls
: B.J. Armstrong, Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Horace Grant, Bill Cartwright, Scott Williams, John Paxson, Rodney McCray, Stacey King, Will Perdue, Ed Nealy

1992-93 Hornets
: Muggsy Bogues, Kendall Gill, David Wingate, Larry Johnson, Alonzo Mourning, Dell Curry, Johnny Newman, Kenny Gattison, Tony Bennett, Sidney Green, Kevin Lynch

Magic Johnson

A 6'9" point guard who had the ability to play any position. No player was greater at making the players around him better. Magic Johnson re-shaped basketball by making the Showtime Lakers a household name and leading the charge in bringing the NBA to the forefront of sports.  His opponent, one his Lakers seemingly played against EVERY year in the playoffs, absolutely needs no introduction…

The Teams

1990-91 Lakers
: Magic Johnson, Byron Scott, James Worthy, Sam Perkins, Vlade Divac, A.C. Green, Larry Drew, Mychal Thompson, Elden Campbell

1990-91 Trail Blazers
: Terry Porter, Clyde Drexler, Jerome Kersey, Buck Williams, Kevin Duckworth, Cliff Robinson, Danny Ainge, Mark Bryant, Drazen Petrovic

Larry Bird
Larry Legend was a once in a generation player: A shooter that defined the word clutch, a competitor like no other and above all, a winner.  For these reasons (and a hundred more), Larry was an obvious inclusion in our 15 players.  The only question left was: who would he play?  While the rivalry with the Lakers stole the headlines for the better part of a decade, another rival, this one in the Eastern Conference, kept things interesting come playoff time…
The Teams

1985-86 Celtics: Dennis Johnson, Danny Ainge, Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, Robert Parish, Bill Walton, Jerry Sichting, Scott Wedman, Sam Vincent

1985-86 Hawks
: Doc Rivers, Randy Wittman, Dominique Wilkins, Kevin Willis, Tree Rollins, Cliff Levingston, Eddie Johnson, Jon Koncak, Spud Webb, Antoine Carr, Scott Hasting

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
The NBA’s all-time leading scorer, a six-time NBA champion, a remarkable 19-time all-star, a six-time NBA MVP, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar redefined the center position by shedding the power and size label and instead defining it with grace and agility.  His sky hook became one of the most effective weapons in all of sports.  In this game, you’ll absolutely need to use it to your advantage in order to take down one of the greatest Celtics teams ever in this classic Lakers vs. Celtics showdown.

The Teams

1986-87 Lakers
: Magic Johnson, Byron Scott, James Worthy, A.C. Green, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Michael Cooper, Kurt Rambis, Billy Thompson, Mychal Thompson, Frank Brickowski

1985-86 Celtics
: Dennis Johnson, Danny Ainge, Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, Robert Parish, Bill Walton, Jerry Sichting, Scott Wedman, Sam Vincent

Julius Erving
Perhaps the most spectacular basketball player ever, Dr. J almost single-handedly revolutionized the game. He was an innovator who pioneered the modern style of play that emphasizes leaping and scoring above the rim. He was a wizard with the ball, performing feats never before seen, including midair spins and whirls punctuated by powerful slam dunks.  He is an NBA legend and an easy selection in our list of 15.  His opponent in this matchup is the 1984-85 Bucks, who quietly won the Central division with an impressive 59-23 record.  Coached by Don Nelson, the young Bucks were an upstart team with something to prove against one of the game’s all-time greats.

The Teams

1984-85 76ers
: Maurice Cheeks, Clint Richardson, Julius Erving, Bobby Jones, Moses Malone, Clemon Johnson, George Johnson

1984-85 Bucks
: Craig Hodges, Sidney Moncrief, Paul Pressey, Terry Cummings, Alton Lister, Mike Dunleavy, Ricky Pierce, Paul Mokeski, Randy Breuer, Charles Davis

Bill Russell
Well before our generation, Bill Russell dominated the paint with tenacious rebounding and intimidating shot-blocking.  A five-time MVP and an 11-time NBA champion, Bill Russell is one of the most decorated players in NBA history.  Former teammate, Don Nelson, on Russell, “There are two types of superstars; one makes himself look good at the expense of the other guys on the floor. But there's another type who makes the players around him look better than they are, and that's the type Russell was.”  Long before Magic and Larry were trading rings, there was Jerry West and Elgin Baylor and…the true birth of the Lakers vs. Celtics rivalry…

The Teams

1964-65 Celtics
: K.C. Jones, Sam Jones, John Havlicek, Tom Sanders, Bill Russell, Tom Heinsohn, Larry Siegfried, John Thompson, Mel Counts

1964-65 Lakers
: Jerry West, Dick Barnett, Elgin Baylor, Rudy Larusso, Leroy Ellis, Jim King, Darrall Imhoff, Walt Hazzard, Don Nelson

Jerry West
Known simply as ‘The Logo’, Jerry West was a spectacular scorer and one of the NBA’s all-time great clutch performers.  A 14-time all-star and one of the greatest defensive guards in league history, West defined the Lakers organization long before guys like Magic and Kobe came along.  This matchup, which I must say is quite difficult, pits him against one of the finest ball handlers to ever play the game, Pistol Pete Maravich and his 1970-71 Hawks team.

The Teams

1970-71 Lakers
: Jerry West, Gail Goodrich, Keith Erickson, Elgin Baylor, Wilt Chamberlain, Jim McMillian, Willie McCarter, Rick Roberson

1970-71 Hawks
: Walt Hazzard, Pete Maravich, Lou Hudson, Bill Bridges, Walt Bellamy, Jim Davis, Jerry Chambers, Len Chappell

Isiah Thomas
One of the grittiest performers ever to play point guard, Zeke relied on intelligence, courage, and work ethic to eclipse bigger, stronger opponents.  A member of the ‘Bad Boys’ Pistons, Thomas had a number of playoff showdowns with the Jordan-led Bulls between the late 80s and the early 90s.  In this matchup, you’ll be looking to claim Eastern Conference supremacy against a hungry Bulls team looking for their first ring…

The Teams

1988-89 Pistons
: Isiah Thomas, Joe Dumars, Mark Aguirre, Rick Mahorn, Bill Laimbeer, Dennis Rodman, Vinnie Johnson, James Edwards, John Salley, Darryl Dawkins

1988-89 Bulls
: John Paxson, Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Horace Grant, Bill Cartwright, Sam Vincent, Brad Sellers, Craig Hodges, Dave Corzine, Charles Davis, Will Perdue

Hakeem Olajuwon
With impeccable footwork on the low block and a silky-smooth jump shot, Olajuwon became one of the greatest centers ever to play the game. He was the epitome of power and grace on the court.  Hakeem displayed a vast array of fakes and spin moves, highlighted by his signature "Dream Shake", which you’ll be able to perform in NBA 2K12.  His matchup pits him against another defensive great from his era, Dikembe Mutombo and the 1993-94 Nuggets.  You’ll need to master the new post game in 2K12 (more on in this in a future Developer Insight) to take down Dikembe.

The Teams

1993-94 Rockets:
Kenny Smith, Vernon Maxwell, Robert Horry, Otis Thorpe, Hakeem Olajuwon, Mario Elie, Sam Cassell, Scott Brooks, Matt Bullard
1993-94 Nuggets:  Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, Bryant Stith, Reggie Williams, Rodney Rogers, Dikembe Mutombo, Robert Pack, Tom Hammonds

Oscar Robertson
The Big O was, simply put, the standard against whom all others labeled “all-around” are judged.  To this day, he remains the only player in NBA history to average a triple-double over an entire season.  Always an innovator, he is credited with inventing the head fake and the fadeaway jump shot.  Simply put, Oscar was an easy choice for us for our 15.

The Teams

1970-71 Bucks:
Oscar Robertson, Jon McGlocklin, Bob Dandridge, Greg Smith, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (Lew Alcindor), Bob Boozer, Lucius Allen, Dick Cunningham

1970-71 Lakers
:  Jerry West, Gail Goodrich, Keith Erickson, Elgin Baylor, Wilt Chamberlain, Jim McMillian, Willie McCarter, Rick Roberson

Karl Malone
Arguably the greatest power forward of all time, his arrival to the NBA revolutionized the power forward position.  No player before him had ever possessed his combination of size and speed.  A two-time MVP who was named to 11 all-star teams, Malone retired with 36,928 career points, second all-time behind only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.  His matchup has him playing against their biggest division foe (at the time), featuring a rookie Tim Duncan and David Robinson.

The Teams

1997-98 Jazz:
John Stockton, Jeff Hornacek, Adam Keefe, Karl Malone, Greg Foster, Byron Russell, Greg Ostertag, Howard Eisley, Shandon Anderson, Antoine Carr

1997-98 Spurs:
  Avery Johnson, Vinny Del Negro, Sean Elliott, Tim Duncan, David Robinson, Jaren Jackson, Chuck Person, Will Perdue, Monty Williams

Scottie Pippen
Overshadowed by MJ during his entire career, Pippen used his unique combination of athleticism and defensive intensity to make the Bulls one of the best defensive teams ever.  Named to an astonishing 10 consecutive All-Defensive teams, Pippen is considered one of the best small forwards of all-time.  Pip and the Bulls will be facing off against one of the best regular season teams of all-time, the 1995-96 Sonics, led by Shawn Kemp and Gary Payton.

The Teams

1995-96 Bulls:
Ron Harper, Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman, Luc Longley, Toni Kukoc, Steve Kerr, Bill Wennington, Dickey Simpkins, Jud Buechler, John Salley, James Edwards

1995-96 Sonics:  Gary Payton, Hersey Hawkins, Detlef Schrempf, Shawn Kemp, Ervin Johnson, Sam Perkins, Vincent Askew, Nate McMillan, Frank Brickowski, David Wingate

Patrick Ewing
An offensive juggernaut, Patrick Ewing is regarded by many as the best shooting center of all-time.  One of the most prolific scoring centers of his era, he left the game as the New York Knicks’ all-time leader in nearly every significant category.  His game didn’t stop on the offensive end as he was one of basketball’s most feared defenders, topping three blocks per game during his peak.  His matchup is a special one, one that most are going to play many times over.  Signaling a changing of the guard in the East, Ewing will need to hold off the 1994-95 Magic featuring a young (and dominant) Shaquille O’Neal and newcomer Penny Hardaway.

The Teams

1994-95 Knicks:
Derek Harper, John Starks, Charles Oakley, Patrick Ewing, Anthony Mason, Hubert Davis, Anthony Bonner, Greg Anthony, Monty Williams, Herb Williams, Doug Christie

1994-95 Magic
:  Penny Hardaway, Nick Anderson, Donald Royal, Horace Grant, Shaquille O’Neal, Dennis Scott, Brian Shaw, Anthony Bowie, Jeff Turner, Tree Rollins

Wilt Chamberlain
Dominating the game as few players in any sport ever have, Wilt was capable of scoring and rebounding at will.  Wilt holds a number of NBA records that will likely never be broken including points per game in a season (50.4), rebounds per game in a season (27.2), and points scored in a single game (100).  Showcased here on one of the greatest teams of al-time (the 1971-72 Lakers), Wilt and the Lakers will be going against their 1972 NBA Finals foe, the New York Knicks, led by Walt Frazier and Jerry Lucas.  This team even featured a 26 year old forward by the name of Phil Jackson (yes, THAT Phil Jackson).

The Teams

1971-72 Lakers:
Jerry West, Gail Goodrich, Jim McMillian, Leroy Ellis, Wilt Chamberlain, Flynn Robinson, Keith Erickson, Elgin Baylor

1971-72 Knicks
:  Walt Frazier, Dick Barnett, Bill Bradley, Dave DeBusschere, Jerry Lucas, Phil Jackson, Earl Monroe, Willis Reed, Luther Rackley
John Stockton
In terms of purity as a point guard, no player was greater.  Fast, gritty, and durable, nobody saw the floor as well as Stockton, and nobody recorded more career assists (15,806) or steals (3,265).  Still today, Stockton leads both of the categories by a very wide margin.  A 10-time all-star, Stockton never missed the playoffs during his illustrious NBA career.  In this matchup, he’ll be facing off against the 1997-98 Lakers, a team featuring a 2nd year Kobe Bryant (yes, we gave him his hair!) and an in-his-prime Shaquille O’Neal.

The Teams

1997-98 Jazz:
John Stockton, Jeff Hornacek, Adam Keefe, Karl Malone, Greg Foster, Byron Russell, Greg Ostertag, Howard Eisley, Shandon Anderson, Antoine Carr

1997-98 Lakers
:  Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Eddie Jones, Robert Horry, Shaquille O’Neal, Elden Campbell, Corie Blount, Jon Barry

We also feature a number of bonus unlockable teams that can be unlocked while playing through NBA’s Greatest:

*1990-91 Warriors: Tim Hardaway, Mitch Richmond, Chris Mullin, Tom Tolbert, Alton Lister, Rod Higgins, Sarunas Marciulionis, Mario Elie, Paul Mokeski, Vincent Askew

*2001-02 Kings: Mike Bibby, Doug Christie, Peja Stojakovic, Chris Webber, Vlade Divac, Bobby Jackson, Hedo Turkoglu, Scot Pollard, Gerald Wallace, Lawrence Funderburke

1976-77 76ers: Henry Bibby, Doug Collins, Julius Erving, George McGinnis, Darryl Dawkins, World B. Free, Steve Mix, Harvey Catchings, Mike Dunleavy, Joe Bryant

1989-90 Cavs: Mark Price, Craig Ehlo, Larry Nance, John Williams, Brad Daugherty, Steve Kerr, Reggie Williams, Tree Rollins, Paul Mokeski

1995-96 Bulls: Kyle Macy, Michael Jordan, Orlando Woolridge, Sidney Green, Charles Oakley, George Gervin, Dave Corzine, John Paxson, Rod Higgins

1990-91 Bulls: John Paxson, Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Horace Grant, Bill Cartwright, B.J. Armstrong, Stacey King, Will Perdue, Cliff Levingston, Craig Hodges, Scott Williams

1997-98 Bulls: Ron Harper, Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman, Luc Longley, Toni Kukoc, Steve Kerr, Bill Wennington, Jud Buechler, Dickey Simpkins

* Bonus Gift with Purchase – The 1990-91 Warriors and 2001-02 Kings are only available to those who purchase their copy of NBA 2K12 early. This bonus content will be available in launch orders only, while supplies last.

Whenever you win an NBA’s Greatest game with the highlighted player, you unlock both teams in the matchup for use all throughout the game.  In total, NBA 2K12 features 34 classic teams (including gift-with-purchase teams) that can be unlocked for you to play with.   As I’m sure you have noticed from the above, our classic team rosters are considerably deeper than last year, where a number of teams only featured the 5 starters.  Many teams this year run 10-deep, and a few, even more than that.  We truthfully left out no detail in putting together the NBA’s Greatest package for all of you this year.

Amongst those details, our gameplay and presentation teams have painstakingly researched every player tendency, rule change, and even television presentation style for these games.  It’s really an astounding experience to play  a game in grainy black & white with no 3PT shots, old-school scorers tables, baskets, and of course, the shortest of shorts.  You’ll be doing that in NBA 2K12, and let me tell you, it’s a lot of fun!  There are many, many more era-specific details we have put into the NBA’s Greatest, but in the interest of not spoiling future developer insights, I’ll let those details be…for now.

We have a lot of surprises in store for you with NBA 2K12 this year.  For those of you who thought we were content with NBA 2K11, you’re about to be proven wrong.  The next Developer Insight will detail the Art Direction of NBA 2K12, written by Lynell Jinks.  So stay tuned, you don’t want to miss it!
Source:  http://www.operationsports.com/features/1317/nba-2k12-developer-insight-2-nbas-greatest/

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{picture#https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-AgIZYN7u_Hg/VZvLmrA0hpI/AAAAAAAARt8/mscbLJ1All4/profile%2Bpic.jpg} JP Canonigo is a historian, professional blogger and copywriter, online content specialist, copywriter, video game junkie, sports fanatic and jack-of-all trades. {facebook#http://www.facebook.com/istoryadista} {twitter#http://www.twitter.com/jpthehistorian} {google#http://plus.google.com/+JPSakuragi}
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