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The NBA 2K series is the most popular franchise of video games based on basketball. The series started life as the exclusive basketball title for the Sega Dreamcast, but later appeared on other consoles starting with NBA 2K2. It's since surpassed EA Sports's NBA Live series, to the point where Live and NBA Elite, a planned refresh of the Live franchise, had several installments cancelled all the way up to NBA Live 2020.

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The NBA 2K series provides examples of:

  • Absentee Actor: Since retired players have to allow 2K to use their likenesses, some Classic and All-Time Teams will have a few glaring omissions, like Charles Barkley or Reggie Miller.
  • And Now For Something Completely Different: The "My Player" mode in recent titles, where you control nearly every aspect of your player's basketball career.
  • Announcer Chatter: Unlike many sports games, 2K records their talent simultaneously in the same room, allowing a lot of way for the commentators to banter amongst each other instead of trading canned lines. 2K17 pushed the trope to a new level with a rotating third member of the virtual booth; instead of being stuck with the same three voices, each game would randomly slot in a third broadcast talent next to the two leads, from the likes of former players like Chris Webber and current broadcasters like Doris Burke, to give the game a more realistic talent turnover from game to game. 2K18 upped the ante even further with the addition of NBA legends Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett, who occasionally appear for Lakers and Timberwolves/Celtics games, respectively.
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  • The Artifact: The starting lineup for 2K18's All-Time Heat had Chris Bosh at power forward and Alonzo Mourning at center. Since 2K19 didn't have Bosh, Mourning moved up a spot and Shaquille O'Neal became the starting center. This didn't change when Bosh was brought back in 2K20.
  • Ascended Meme:
    • 2k16 once released a 90 overall Brian Scalabrine, aka The White Mamba for a limited time.
    • 2k19 later one-upped that by releasing a 99 overall Galaxy Opal Rarity version of Scalabrine.
  • The Bus Came Back: A December 2019 MyTeam event in 2K20 brought back Chris Bosh after he was absent in 2K19. A later update added him to the '12-'13 Heat, All-Time Raptors, and All-Time Heat teams.
  • The Cameo: Michael Jordan himself in 2K11. The very first time you boot up the game, and go through the Cold Opening (described below), Jordan, actually voiced by the real deal in this cutscene, will look at the player, and ask if they're ready to play, before joining the rest of the Bulls.
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  • Character Blog: Your player has a Facebook or Twitter page where fans will cheer or call you out on your performance, opposing players will challenge you or say you came through, the media will cover how you played as well as your poise during interviews and superstars will tag you as a friend if...in Steve Kerr's case for example, you shoot a lot of 3 pointers.
  • Cold Opening: Booting up 2K11 for the first time has you walking out with Jordan for the 1991 NBA Finals player introduction against the Lakers, replete with the Bulls mascot waving a flag, superstar entrance for Jordan and the man himself clapping powder in Jerry Krause's face.
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: The other negative in using bad language, in that after the technical is called you and your team slide in a big way and the opponents step up their game like it was game seven of the finals, fourth quarter, scores are tied. In other words the game makes you pay for the technical by ramping up the difficulty to insane levels.
    • The Rookie Showcase has you trying to perform and impress the teams so you can get a high spot in the draft. There's just one problem: every other player on your team is so geeked up to do the same they become utter ball hogs, going against five on one odds and not allowing you a look on even if they have no chance of scoring. Your only hope is to dominate defensively as well as work on getting high numbers in points and assists. Thankfully being drafted means your team is much more focused on winning games rather than putting on a one man show, allowing you to play more to your strengths.
  • Didn't Think This Through: A meta example exists in 2K16's story mode, Livin' Da Dream, which features the story of a player created character named Frequency Vibrations. However, Spike Lee didn't take into account the idea that the player might make a white character because his family is all black with Freq's mother even bringing up that she came up with the name while pregnant with him discrediting the idea that he's Happily Adopted. The implications of this are never brought up in story, and a white Frequency Vibrations' race goes completely unnoticed.
  • Game-Breaking Bug: One that was caused by real life circumstances. The "NBA Today" option for NBA 2K20's MyLeague simply causes the game to slow down from trying to simulate games that don't exist until it crashes. The NBA indefinitely suspended their 2020 season in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, which had the unintended side-effect of rendering the "NBA Today" option non-functional.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: On PS2 version, a defender may resist from ball handler's charge by pushing his hips rapidly towards him.
  • Hate Sink: Vic Van Lier in Livin' Da Dream, an odd example as despite his extrene antagonistic behaviour up to including blackmailing the player and threatening to send them to jail over an accidental murder when called out on said behaviour, the ending intends for you to feel sorry for him when he dies in a car crash (in a car he took from the player, by the way).
  • Holiday Mode: The announcers have special dialogue for a large number of days, up to and including Groundhog Day and April Fools Day.
  • Jedi Mind Trick: Invoked in the MyGM mode, where the GM can perform one on a free agent (with a cost to earned credits).
    GM: This is EXACTLY the contract you're looking for. You won't be able to find a better deal with any other team.
    Player: You are 100% correct. This is EXACTLY the contract I'm looking for and I accept your contract offer.
  • Long Runner: The first game was released in November 1999, and it's still going very, very strong, even surpassing EA's long-running series of NBA games.
  • Mission-Pack Sequel: Though there are frequently plenty enough improvements with each passing game to make it more different than the previous year's edition.
  • Multi-Platform: Since 2K2, every game in the series has been released on multiple consoles.
  • No Fair Cheating: You can import a created player into GM mode who is super elite and does not care about financial security at all. He will still demand something to the tune of 90 million dollars, you might not even have 90 million to afford him, much less the rest of the team.
  • Obvious Beta: NBA 2K20 was infamously this at launch, even to the point of failing to update the PC version’s logo from the previous year.
  • Permanent Elected Official / President for Life: Some editions have included a cutscene in career mode where the league champions travel to the White House to meet Barack Obama. These cutscenes remain unchanged even after the game chronology passes January 20, 2017, the date when Obama's term expired and Donald Trump took over the Presidency.
  • Revenue-Enhancing Devices: 2K had made any form of progress all but impossible without gambling on loot boxes in the hopes of unlocking boosts to help you get ahead enough to be able to use in game currency to boost your stats, a Double Unlock if you will.
  • Sequel Escalation: Following the massive sales success of 2K11, the devs suddenly had the wallet to integrate more popular basketball-related brands, more licensed historic players and voice talent, and putting A-list music acts like Kanye, Eminem, and Drake on their soundtracks (including Jay-Z curating NBA 2K13's soundtrack himself).
  • Shown Their Work: As stated before, the game has some impressively realistic commentary, which is a refresher from other sports games that has repetitive commentary. The arena announcer will also keep pace with them, such as when the home team scores three points he will call out, "One, two, threeeeee!!!!!!": occasionally he will drop saying the third part and the crowd will do it instead.
    • As well as the other work involved in the game such as the progress of your player reflected by their performance on court and what to improve on, 2K11 was downright eerie in the work put in, from Sirius playing to Jordan slapping powder in front of Jerry Krause to commentary that would have you fooled into thinking it's an actual broadcast. 2K14 takes this Up to Eleven, your created player's performance rated down to performance in interviews and online fan reaction is impressive, but where it gets to almost a Big Brother Is Watching level is through Kinect. It listens for play calling, picks, etc. However, if you swear the Kinect and in turn the referee will hear and you will be called for a technical foul.
  • Spiritual Successor: To the Sega Saturn title NBA Action.
  • Take That!: Among the lowest rated staff members in MyGM and MyLeague is basketball personality LaVar Ball.
  • Who Names Their Kid "Dude"?: Your character's name in 2k16's MyCareer mode, despite you naming them in the creation screen is, for some reason, "Frequency Vibrations." The name you gave them is used in the opening credits and outside of the cutscenes.
    Starring [Your Name Here]

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