The Evolution Of NBA Live (1995-2019)

F**k you Jesus Bynum! NBA Live is not only still alive after you put it in a three-year coma, but EA Sports still believes it can compete with NBA2K and eventually take back the crown it wore for over a decade.

The Live franchise became known in 1994 but was born a half a decade earlier, in 1989, when EA released Lakers VS Celtics, the first game in their NBA Playoffs trilogy (Bulls vs Lakers and Bulls vs Blazers followed).

In 1993, they refreshed the series by calling it NBA Showdown, which was overshadowed by the 2-on-2 arcade classic NBA Jam, an NBA version of the underrated classic Arch Rivals.

A year later, right before Halloween, EA treated us to one of the greatest basketball games ever: NBA Live 95. After 15 years (going back to the Atari days) of basketball games with the same side angle, Live 95 used a 30-degree camera angle that felt as fresh and groundbreaking as the young Orlando Magic team with game-changer Penny Hardaway and backboard-breaking Shaquille O'Neal. The one issue with this game, and all games around this time was M.I.A. MJ, who owned his name and image and would only license it out for trash games like Chaos In The Windy City. EA's solution came in Live 96 with the option to create and name your own player; This allowed me to sub Nick Anderson, Dennis Scott and Horace Grant with myself, Michael Jordan and Chris Webber.

Over the following decade, the franchise continued to reign as it introduced features such as practice mode (99), Legend All-Star teams (2000) and freestyle Air (2005). During that time, we saw a lot of new competing franchises emerge: 2K/ESPN, Ballers, Courtside, Inside Drive and Shootout.

In 2010, EA decided it was time for another refresh and called their upcoming release NBA Elite 11. With Kevin Durant on the cover and Steph Curry and Brandon Jennings pushing the product, which was introducing new controls and a career mode like their "Superstar Mode" in the Madden NFL games, the game looked like a guaranteed hit. Then the demos were released. Online reviews of the demos plagued by bugs and the legend that is Jesus Bynum led to the cancellation of the game and the start of a three-year coma that ended with Kyrie Irving showing his face on the cover of NBA Live 14.

During that coma, sealed copies of Elite 11 have surfaced on eBay with a $10,000 price tag. Copies with the promotional display box (like mine below) often sell between $2,000-$5,000.


So here we are, four years and four games later, and not only is Live still alive but a lot healthier than most 2K fans want to admit.

Here's a couple Live vs 2K comparison videos, followed by a compilation video showcasing EA Sports commercials between 1993 to 1999.


And here's a photo of my copies of the EA basketball games of the 90s.


Speaking of Jesus Bynum and resurrections, guess who is back in the gym and looking to play in the NBA after a four-year absence?


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