Why this basketball game set the bar high for every sports game that's come after it.
There have been tons of articles written about this game, and rightfully so. I mean, let's face it, what other game out there has this kind of soundtrack and level of game-play detail? I'll give you a hint — nada, zilch, zero, no mas.
It takes a certain level of appreciation to understand what went into putting this game together. On one hand, for the average gamer, it was just a ho-hum basketball video game that was kinda cool. It allowed you to play on hard tops, open courts, and interesting venues, but to the "rookie" street culture aficionado, it didn't move the needle too much. They were more into Grand Theft Auto or wrestling games (ok, I admit, some of those WWF games were awesome).
Now, on the other hand, if you knew basketball (especially street ball), then you knew this game was special. This masterpiece gave you a glimpse into basketball as an art form or as a piece of street culture that until then (and maybe still), had been unmatched. You weren't just playing as the LA Lakers vs. Boston Celtics in an exhibition match at Staples with realistic graphics, you were playing 3 vs 3 to 21, no ticky-tack fouls, no out-of-bounds, playground rules street ball at famous courts such as Rucker Park. All these things melted into one hit of nostalgia, that made you feel like Dr. Strange just removed your physical body from your astral body – it was an out-of-body experience when you could crossover your brother and take it to the hole, defying gravity like you're jumping on the moon.
I remember testing out this game inside of a Game Stop while inside the mall (do kids still go there?) in 2003. While rocking the "cool guy" apparel at the time — cargo shorts, collared shirt and seashell necklace with bedhead-styled hair, I exited Abercrombie & Fitch (don't judge me). Although about to graduate college, I was still a gamer. Fat and undeniably un-cool, FIFA, Counter-Strike, World of Warcraft were my games back then (again, don't judge me). When I walked into the Game Stop to check out what's new, I noticed this game. If you haven't read any of our previous articles, then you should know that I'm a huge basketball fan. Anything NBA-related, I will mosey on over to check out. This game definitely caught my eye because of the unique game play. It wasn't your typical NBA2K game, it was something different. Everything about it was different, actually. It had venues much like Alief Amity Park (my old hood), where many street ball gods have come and gone. NBA players like Rashard Lewis used to play pickup games there.
The soundtrack alone should give your grapefruits a tingle. For #hypebeasts that only know artists via mainstream media, NBA Street Vol. 2 gave you a dose of 90's and early 2000's hip hop such as: MC Lyte, Erick Sermon and Redman as well as custom beats by famous #DJ, Just Blaze.
On top of that, the cherry on top is having real-life #streetball emcee Bobbito Garcia (aka DJ Cucumber Slice) as your hype man and narrator. Mr. Bobbito makes this go from an A to an A+, not only because of his Stacy King-like sayings (look him up on YouTube), but because this shows the deep street cred these game creators went after to get that authenticity. The creators of the game gave us a realistic glimpse into street ball religion – and we were blessed for it.
Ok, so you may be asking so what? What does this have to do with anything? Is this some shitty stroll down memory lane? Well, yes and no. The reason we're talking about this today is because this was the real spark plug that created the connection between basketball and street culture. This is the year that #LeBron, #Wade and #Bosh went into the NBA. This is the game that included venues that gave birth to street legends. This is the game that fused hip hop culture with sports. Can you name any other game that's come close? A case can be made for #NBA2K once they started to include players like Ben Baller, Kid Super and Chicago Don C, but that's about 20 years too late. Gaming today is very closely connected to hip hop and street culture. But if it weren't for NBA Street Vol. 2, the landscape of street culture would be very different. So let's give the game its due and give it a standing ovation like it deserves.
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