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kurt2134's Blog
It's Time for NBA Street to Make a Comeback 
Posted on May 24, 2016 at 07:08 PM.
"My man Stretch makin' the D' look like popcorn on the floor at the movie theatre."

Maybe you don't have as many Bobbito Garcia quotes floating around in your head as I do. Maybe you completely muted him and just listened to the amazing soundtrack. Chances are you may at least know a little about the greatness that was the NBA Street series. It spanned four main titles and a portable spin-off for the PSP, with the last entry being 2007's NBA Street: Homecourt.

In my opinion, the series peaked with NBA Street Vol. 2. Created by the now-defunct EA Sports BIG studio, it was the perfect marriage of street basketball and hip-hop culture. A game that celebrated the legacy of basketball's legends long before the NBA 2K series started including classic teams (I don’t count the all-decade teams). It was a true love letter to the playground style of basketball that came to prevalence in the early to mid-2000's with the AND1 Mixtape Tours. With it's over the top tricks and physics defying dunks, amazing soundtrack of classic hip-hop, and its colorful style, it was as close to perfect as an arcade sports game could get.

Stepping onto a new court as the outrageous Bobbito Garcia gave a humorous introduction was like a virtual street basketball museum. Every real life court had its own style and flavor. The game also had tons of content as you were constantly unlocking NBA legends, an eclectic mix of fictional streetball players, courts, or jerseys for your created player.

NBA Street Vol. 2 was followed by another 2 sequels that never quite reached the heights of the 2nd game in my opinion. Some things that were added were very good additions such as the trick stick (allowed you to use the right stick to pull of dribble moves rather than the buttons), and the poetic introductions of each court, but they never managed to add enough to keep it fresh or retain the same level of quality as Vol. 2. It probably didn't help that the market became somewhat over-saturated with these kind of games as there would eventually be an NFL Street and FIFA Street title in the mix.

So why should there be another NBA Street? Let's face it, street basketball isn't anywhere close to as popular as it once was in the mid 2000's and the series did have a clear drop-off in sales with every iteration. Those are fair points but think about it this way: The NBA 2K series is the undisputed king of simulation basketball. Selling millions of copies to the 10's of thousands that NBA Live 16 sold and EA is still planning to make an NBA Live 17, albeit with a delay to sometime in 2017. NBA Street: Homecourt (the worst selling game in the NBA Street series) sold well over double what NBA Live 16 sold. This is according to which may not be the most accurate source of sales figures but it is safe to say that NBA Live 16 has sold well below expectations when it was reported in October of 2015 that it had only sold a little over 8,000 copies in September compared to the million copies NBA 2K16 sold. Also, while the AND1 Mixtape Tours may not be popular, street basketball with its emphasis on showmanship and humiliation of your opponent has been around for decades and is right at home with today’s fast paced, 3-point barrage NBA offenses.

I didn't write this to bash NBA Live as I believe it's good to have competition but at this point there's no catching NBA 2K when it comes to simulation basketball. At this point I don't even think NBA Live would stand a chance even if it were a phenomenal game. I do think there is room for a casual, over the top, arcade-style, basketball game in addition to a basketball simulation. This is an era where the returns of great franchises are welcomed and the bright color palette's and cartoonish graphics are an eye-catching way to show off the power of the newest generation of consoles. The NBA is still hugely popular and has a ton of amazing and new talent since the last NBA Street was released. I would argue that NBA Street may be the only franchise where Stephen Curry’s inhuman shooting abilities actually fit.

If there was a new NBA Street, I would hope it would take what made the series great and expand on that. Keep the legends in the game, give them their own signature moves, dunks, shots, and lay-ups so that they each feel different and unique. Keep the real life courts and all of the history lessons that come with them. Maybe add some real life streetball legends to the mix such as Earl "The Goat" Manigault, Joe “The Destroyer” Hammond, Raymond Lewis, Demetrius “Hook” Mitchell. Have archival footage of NBA greats talking about the best streetball players they played against that never made it to the NBA. OK maybe that last one is unrealistic as a lot of those players sadly didn’t make it to the NBA due to drugs, crime, or a combination of the two but it would still be pretty special to have true streetball legends in addition to the NBA players. Get rid of the “double dunks” and crazy moves that were added in NBA Street Homecourt. Let’s keep a little semblance of believable hoops. Most importantly, keep the upbeat hip-hop soundtrack that itself was a blend of new flavor and appreciation for songs from a bygone age.

In short, bring back NBA Street for a new generation of consoles and let us celebrate the art of street basketball by attempting to throw the ball off of our opponent’s head while humming to the tune of T.R.O.Y. by Pete Rock and CL Smooth.

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