The Evolution of Basketball Video Games

Lakers vs. Celtics and the NBA Playoffs (1989)

Lakers vs. Celtics and the NBA Playoffs might be a mouthful, but it's also the next truly major evolution in video game basketball after Double Dribble. It does a heck of a lot more with the NBA license than NBA Basketball almost a decade before it, featuring actual teams (although only ten of them), but players are recognizably themselves, from James Worthy's goggles to Kareem Abdul-Jabar's skyhook. It also features one of the most infamously overpowered moves in basketball video game history, Tom Chambers' Double Pump Dunk of Doom. This is maybe where canned animations get a bad name. The graphics also went from state-of-the-art cool to outmoded once 3D models came in to now once again being retro cool. Incidentally, this game's later iterations (Bulls vs. Lakers and Bulls vs. Blazers) expanded and improved on this initial version with more teams, more signature moves, more Dennis Rodman hair colors, but this is the one that started it all.

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