Last week, NBA 2K17 officially hit shelves nationwide for the PlayStation 4 and XBOX One console.
The NBA’s latest 2K installment via Visual Concepts features Paul George as the United States cover athlete, while recently retired Los Angeles Lakers’ guard Kobe Bryant serves as the ambassador of the Legend Edition of the game. Historic teams like the 1995-96 72-win Chicago Bulls team, the 1997-98 Los Angeles Lakers and the 1992 USA Dream Team make cameos on this year’s installment of NBA 2K.
Basketball video games have come a long way.
Who remembers Bulls vs. Blazers, NBA Jam, Charles Barkley Shut Up & Jam or NBA Hang Time? While those games were legendary and will stand the test of time in the 90s, retrospectively, a game that set the stage for the current generation of games being played now was EA Sports’ NBA Live 2003.
In today’s video game world, face and tattoo recognition and a soundtrack littered with hot tracks is a must for gamers. After an unsuccessful run with NBA Live 2002, EA Sports went back to the lab and brought in some fire power. NBA Live 2003 featured then-New Jersey Nets All Star point guard Jason Kidd as their cover athlete and keyed in on pay attention to the halfcourt game; much to the delight of San Antonio Spurs fans everywhere. The defensive strategy was also a focus with Dikembe Mutombo and Kenyon Martin having nightly block parties on their respective teams. But quite honestly, the thing that stood out the most was the game’s soundtrack.
Anyone who purchased a copy of NBA Live 2003 got an added bonus. They got a copy of the NBA Live 2003 soundtrack on a CD. The tracklist included cuts like Busta Rhymes and Flipmode Squad’s Here We Go, Angie Martinez’s If I Could Go, Joe Budden’s Drop Drop, Freeway and Memphis Bleek’s Let’s Go.
Check Out The NBA Live 2003 Mix For Yourself
“I still have that CD in my mancave,” said retired NBA player Tim Thomas. “Everybody had that CD, that game was timeless.”
“Man, I remember that CD but I don’t remember none of the songs on the game,” said Maurice Ager who was playing at Michigan State when NBA Live 2003 was released. “But I remember they had all of these rappers on the CD. I remember it being different because you never saw a CD come with a game.”
“I’ve always been a big Joe Budden fan,” said Forbes contributor and gaming authority Brian Mazique. “So his track was dope. “I also think Memphis Bleek was on the soundtrack as well. I used to be a fan of the, Freeway and others under the Roc’s umbrella.”
The soundtrack was a conversational piece, but the song’s lyrics were just a memorable. The tracks stuck to your guts like oatmeal on a cold winter day.
One of the biggest culprits for that was It’s In The Game, the game’s intro song performed by Fabolous and also featured DJ Clue. Fabolous’ wordplay was insane especially when you say things like: ‘I’m the crowd favorite and I believe the fans love the way I finger roll it with either hand, my handles pull it through presses plus I can play the lane and block shots like bulletproof vestes.’
Fabolous’ NBA Live 2003 Intro
Fabolous had a buzz going strong on the mixtape circuit at the time and was also coming off of a successful album, Ghetto Fabolous, that he’d dropped two years prior to NBA Live 2003’s release. The Brooklyn rapper was in a league of his own, rapping about sports and donning the most exclusive of exclusive Mitchell & Ness throwback jerseys. Fab was a natural fit as the game’s intro vocalist. “I was a bigger video game fan then,” he joked. “It was a cool experience. The whole video game. I actually got to visit the EA Sports headquarters and got to see the stuff behind games; the real geeky, techy side, that was even cool. It was really, really, really a cool experience.”
According to the lyricist, the coolest part was that while being on tour, he did a promotion in conjunction with EA Sports.”I did a tour stop where in each city somebody would come on the bus and play me in NBA Live,” he said.
“I pretty much beat everybody that we played. A couple of them were girls, I had to beat them too.”
While you’re enjoying the luxuries, bells and whistles that NBA 2K 17 has to offer to your living room, always remember: NBA Live 2003 set the mandate early. EA Sports made it cool for your favorite athletes to creatively sport their tattoo’s proudly and allows today’s basketball fan to enjoy the synergy of hip hop’s top hits on a sporting game platform. EA Sports redeemed themselves by cementing their legacy as a game that played much faster than the previous versions along with a memorable soundtrack.
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