Did you ever wish you were a little bit taller? Maybe a baller? Just had a girl who looked good so you could call her? Well, we can’t do anything about the last one — maybe Skee-Lo can help? — but the flood of basketball video games that came in the early 1990s and afterward may have helped with the first two.
The ’90s weren’t, of course, the start of basketball video games, but they did bring a change to where five on five simulation-style play, tournaments, full-seasons, and stats became the norm. All of a sudden, if you squinted hard enough, it felt like you were actually playing something that resembled real basketball. And then NBA Jam hit arcades with over-sized photo-accurate headshots of players and otherworldly dunks, and things went up to a whole other level as factions split between arcade style and simulations.
Clearly, the sim-games won the war. Visual Concepts’ NBA 2K franchise rules over all after finally inching ahead of EA’s long-revered NBA Live franchise, but from the simple days of Magic Johnson’s Fast Break on NES, there now exists a ton of fun games that will no doubt spark something in you if you’re a virtual hardwood veteran. And in tribute to those games and the looming debut (September 20) of yet another NBA 2K game, here’s a ranked look back at the best basketball video games of all time.