ESPN NBA Basketball (2003)
Don't get thrown by the funky title: This is NBA 2K3 and the last 2K Sports title to have Allen Iverson on the cover. ESPN's presentation was a big step forward for the franchise, adding halftime and postgame shows and in general pushing everything a step closer to the kind of realistic presentation that basketball games have always put up as the Holy Grail. And yet on the other end, the brand new 24/7 Mode put a very different spin on basketball, one that saw you creating a player to play his way up a ladder at different sites against regular players and legendary "bosses" who would then go on to help you if you defeated them. Boasting constant connectivity (hence the 24/7), the mode shifted and changed depending on the date and time of day, and your player would improve with experience in addition to earning accessories that were, in retrospect, kind of silly. Who plays pick-up ball with a backpack? But nevertheless, this mode, combined with The Life from NBA 06, formed the basis of the much better and more robust My Player and My Career modes.