Now, for the first time in more than 2 decades, I am excited about a basketball game again. EA Sports has mesmerized me with their about-to-be-released game NBA 2K11. This review over at IGN.com is enthralling. To start with it sounds like the gameplay has a high degree of realism and control built in, and the lack of those elements has always made these types of games exercises in frustration for yours truly. I’m trying to feel like an NBA player when I plug in an NBA game, not an AND1 streetballer playing one on five against a girl scout troop. But far more importantly, this game, like Kobe Bryant’s game, is a tribute to Michael Jordan. Play as the Bulls in ten of Jordan’s most memorable games and execute his most legendary moves? Yes please! Match his greatest statistical performances? Sign me up!
The most intriguing element to me is the unlockable rookie Jordan (once you conquer the 10 challenges mentioned above) that you can add to any team for this season. How fantastic is that!?!? You’ve got a 21 year old Air Jordan you can plug into your favorite team and use to build a dynasty. Of course a young Jordan, henceforth referred to as Hair Jordan, or Hair for short, is not the polished GOAT that we all half-remember and half-invent whenever we think of MJ these days. He was a speed-merchant, aerialist with incredible finishing skills and a well-rounded rebounding, passing game whose jumper past 18 feet was highly suspect. I can’t even think of a player in the game today to use as an apt comparison. Basically the skillset was all about attacking the paint and making plays. Kind of like a much bigger Russell Westbrook with even more explosiveness and without the point guard responsibilities.
Now what would the freebie addition of Hair Jordan mean to your NBA team? Let’s find out.
Atlanta Hawks – Start at the 2 between Bibby and Johnson. Push Williams to the bench. Contender.
Boston Celtics – Best guess? By the All-Star break he has pushed Allen or Rondo to the bench. By the NBA Finals the team’s final 5 minutes are played by Jordan, Allen, Pierce, Garnett, and Perkins. Title.
Charlotte Bobcats – LB might start him at point guard or might go small and slide Jackson and Wallace to the 3 and 4 respectively. Not a real contender until Hair’s 3rd or 4th season, but a threat to go deep in the playoffs.
Chicago Bulls – Team starts Rose, Jordan, Korver, Boozer, and Noah. Contender.
Cleveland Cavaliers – If this was a 4th year Air, I’d call them contenders. With a first year Hair, let’s say playoff team that could advance.
Dallas Mavericks – Start in place of Terry between Kidd and Marion. Best unit Kidd, Jordan, Butler, Marion, Dirk. Contender.
Denver Nuggets – Start at the two between Billups and Melo. Best unit Billups, Hair, Melo, Martin, Nene. Contender.
Detroit Pistons – Start between Gordon and Prince. Trade Stuckey or Hamilton. Playoff team.
Golden State – Start next to Curry and whoever currently projects to be their starting small forward. Make Ellis 6th man. Playoff team.
Houston Rockets – Make Martin + picks + cap space deal for Carmelo. Start Brooks, Jordan, Anthony, Scola, and Ming. Bring Lee, Battier, Hayes, and Miller off the bench. Contender.
Indiana Pacers – Start Collison, Jordan, Granger, and a couple of big men. Make playoffs. Watch Jordan turn Granger into an All-NBA player by pushing him in practice. Win title in 4 years.
LA Clippers – Start Davis, Jordan, Gordon, Griffin, and Kaman. Watch Jordan blow out his knee and never be the same.
LA Lakers – Phil Jackson hates to play rookies big minutes, and Artest is a fragile ego BUT… start Fisher, Jordan, Bryant, Odom and Gasol (until Bynum is healed), play Artest off the bench at the 3 and 4, Blake at the 1 and Brown at the 2. Sorry Barnes and Sasha. You’re out. Watch Kobe turn Jordan into the best player ever by his 3rd season. Dynasty without foreseeable end.
Memphis Grizzlies – Start OJ, Jordan, Gay, Zach, and Gasol. Playoffs. 2nd round.
Miami Heat – Ho boy. Start Wade, Jordan, Miller, LeBron, and Bosh. Run, run, run, run, run. Dynasty.
Milwaukee – Start Jennings, Jordan, Salmons, Luc Richard, and Bogut. Starter quality depth at every position. Great coaching. Borderline contender.
Minnesota – Well, Rubio’s not staying in Europe when he finds out that he can start the point next to Hair. So… Rubio, Jordan, Johnson, Love, and Darko. Borderline playoff.
NJ Nets – Start Harris, Jordan, Outlaw, Murphy, Lopez. Playoffs. 2nd round.
NO Hornets – Start Paul, Jordan, Ariza, West, Okafur. Borderline contender. Needs size, but the guard combination might be enough to win it all. Seriously.
NY Knicks – Start Felton, Jordan, Galo, Amare, Turiaf. Douglas, Chandler, and Randolph as key bench guys. Playoffs. One starting quality big (to be purchased with Curry’s contract) from being a contender.
OC Thunder – Start Westbrook, Jordan, Durant, Green, Kristc. Borderline contender.
Orlando Magic – Start Nelson, Jordan, Carter, Lewis, Howard. Contender. Probable dynasty unless Carter finds a way to ruin Hair.
Phili 76ers – Start Jordan, Igudala, Turner, Brand, Hawes. Playoffs. Need some trades to build a contender.
Phoenix Suns – Start Nash, Jordan, Richardson, Hedo, Lopez. Dragic, Hill, Childress, and Frye shore up the bench. Contender.
Portland Trailblazers – Start Miller, Jordan, Roy, Aldridge, Camby. Contender.
Sacramento Kings – Start Garcia, Evans, Jordan, Cousins, Dalembert. Need to make trades. Borderline playoff team.
SA Spurs – Start Parker, Jordan, Jefferson, Duncan, Splitter. Finish Parker, Jordan, Manu. Contender.
Toronto Raptors – Start Calderon, Jordan, Kleiza, Evans, Bargnani. Playoff team. Needs bigs.
Utah Jazz – Start Williams, Jordan, Miles, Jefferson, Okur. I love this team because they have Milsap and AK47 on the bench with a lot of guard depth. Not sure what the best unit would be, but I have a feeling AK and MJ would have great chemistry. Contender.
Washington Wizards – Start Wall, Arenas, Jordan, Blatche, McGee. Team needs to dump some of its talented wings for some bigs. Playoffs.