The beauty of NBA 2K’s Blacktop

If you will, for a second, let me be cheesy.

This is Video Game Week for SB Nation, and I’ve been racking my brain for some important sports games to me. I couldn’t think of one. There are a ton of video games that are super important to me, but as far as any licensed major league games go, I haven’t really felt that.

Then, I realized, any time that I go home to my parents’ house, I play arguably the most important game of my lifetime.

My brother and I have spent more hours playing NBA 2K’s Blacktop mode than we have any other game. While 2K’s blacktop is a fairly standard game mode by now — nothing too remarkable — we’ve made it our own.

In the interest in killing time and hanging together, we’ve found ways to keep ourselves engaged, entertained, and bonding for hours on end. It’s really easy to come up with some for yourself, but I’ll name a few if you want some inspiration.

Big Men Battles

1-on-1 (halfcourt), 3-on-3 (halfcourt), 5-on-5 (fullcourt). There’s only two rules to this. Your player(s) must be over 7 feet tall and they shouldn’t be able to knock down threes with ease, so no Dirk Nowiztki allowed. Yes, the whole point is to have a grueling, slobber-knocker of a matchup with zero spacing. Enjoy.

Knock-down shooters

3-on-3 (halfcourt). You can pick any shooter that you want, including Dirk. The rules are that only threes count, and if you accidentally make a two (one-pointer), then the other player gets a free one-point shot plus the ball back. A great strategy to this is to either pick a three-and-D guy like Klay Thompson, or get an a crazy-elusive shooter like Steph Curry. Bonus points if you get a player who can do all three — Larry Bird is ungodly.

Halfcourt heaves

You heave it from halfcourt. There’s no real rules to this game aside from the fact that it must be a running-start heave and before the halfcourt line, not on the line, and it’s always fun to make it a two-out-of-three game or three-out-of-five, etc. No tips for this one, but it’s funny because at times you’ll swear you’re more likely to make the shot off a pass or after you do a spin move.

If you’ve noticed, there’s a trend to these. One, there’s not a ton of skill to these games. Sure, you might have one or two bigs that are great with their back to the basket, or you might have Steph’s timing down perfectly, but it’s easy to get smothered in those games, and a good of it depends on dumb luck or the opponent making mistakes. Then of course, the halfcourt heave is all luck.

Yes, they might be silly or not that competitive, but that’s the point. These games are supposed to be fun and exciting or just straight-up funny, but most importantly it’s to kill time with someone. Of course, my brother and I will spend time at the movies or dinner or doing other things normal people do, but when we’re bored at home or it’s late at night, and we don’t want to go anywhere, it’s always been a reliable go-to.

The best part is that 90% of what happens during these marathons is talking. Some of our most important and difficult conversations we’ve had have come on the blacktop, and we’ve learned a lot each other during these games. You’d be surprised the amount that can be said when you’ve posted up Shaq with Patrick Ewing for the 10th-straight time in 15 minutes and the score is only 7-to-7 in a game of 21.

2K’s Blacktop has easily been one of the most vital ways for my younger brother and I to bridge the 10-year gap between him and me. And, especially now during quarantine, when I want to experience a bit of quick comfort, I’ll throw on 2K, select Heat LeBron James and 91 Michael Jordan and dunk on some lames.

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