Video games are supposed to be a virtual adaptation to the product we see on the court, especially in basketball. This being said, we all can think of players that pop into our heads that were virtually unstoppable in a video game. Those players that your friends considered cheating if you used… yeah, those guys. The teams that your friend (who never played before) used and almost beat you.
Remember all those arguments back in college when you’d face off with a roommate and he’d refuse — flat out REFUSE — to use any other players? And then you’d look at the stats at the end of it and it’d be something like: LeBron James – 68 points. The rest of the Cavs – 11. Oh the memories.
With the release of the NBA video games for 2013-14 just around the corner, I compiled this list of the best NBA 2K players from my 2K playing days, some of them being virtual players that were a lot better than their real game suggested.
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20. ANDRE IGUODALA
In real life, Andre Iguodala plays like a poor man’s LeBron James. In 2K13, Iggy plays like LeBron James. It’s kind of insane — he definitely falls into the list of players whose video “game” is better than their actual game. No knock on the guy, but he’s crazy in 2K13. His jumper is way more reliable than it is in real life, and in 2K13 he has the ability to dunk over anyone and everyone. Iggy has long been a video game terror, going all the way back to the years where guys would morph to the hoop from like 15 feet away.
Iguodala can throw it down, but not at the rate that he does in 2K13. Iguodala rarely scores over 20 points a game, but his virtual game makes it hard to NOT score 20-plus with the guy. I’m a Sixers fan and watched him for many years. I would’ve DIED for the 2K13 version of Andre Iguodala in real life.
19. RUSSELL WESTBROOK
Here we find Kevin Durant‘s counterpart in 2K12. Yeah, this was a little unfair. I don’t think there’s a player in 2K12 that has the speed of Westbrook, combined with his power. Bringing the ball up the court with Westbrook is just unfair. You could have a defender waiting to pick him up and he would roll right by him to the rim for a slam. I can’t count the number of people I’ve made quit in the first quarter because all I had to do was go coast-to-coast with Westbrook every time. It was easy mode. You could score 50 just dunking with Westbrook. Count on getting a bunch of and-1s too, because he would dunk on everyone and get the blocking foul called every time. Combined with his improved jump shot from midrange and deep, Russell Westbrook was primed to be a threat everywhere on the court in 2K12.
18. RUDY GAY
Rudy Gay falls into the category of players that had amazing 2K games that left you confused as to why he didn’t perform this way in real life. Gay puts up solid numbers, but usually at the expense of a low shooting percentage. This was not the case in 2K12. His jumper was easy and reliable. Midrange, three, anywhere on the court, it was good to go. Once he heats up, it’s hard to get him to cool down. He was another one of those players that people put up 60-70 points with and there was NOTHING you could do to stop them. His combination of size and strength, along with his fluidity, made out to be a nightmare that no one saw coming.
And if you ever started a franchise with him? Forget about it. By year three, after improving some of his characteristics, he’d be dunking on everything in sight, dropping 35 a night and banging five triples a game.
17. STEPHEN CURRY
Fun fact: I’m completely obsessed with everything and anything that has to do with Steph Curry, no joke. Funner fact: I was completely obsessed with shooting threes with Steph Curry in 2K13. Chances are, after seeing his play this past season, you were too. This guy is the best shooter in basketball, bar none, and his 2K13 player proved this fact to also be true on the virtual hardwood. His jump shot unstoppable, especially when he gets cooking, and he’s just so much fun to play with. There were literally games where I would bring the ball up, run to the corner, and shoot a fadeaway three about three to four times in a row. They all went in, bottom of the net, SWISH! Remember in the playoffs, how he would explode in quarters for 15-20 points? Same thing is possible in 2K13. This guy’s jumper is so lethal you won’t want to play with any other player. Don’t leave Curry open, well, he’ll probably make it even if the defense is there. Watch out 2K14 players, it will only get better.
16. JAMAL CRAWFORD
Jamal Crawford… if you’ve ever used him in 2K, especially 2K13, you know where this one is going. For a player with a rating of 78 in the game, he should not be as good as he is. It’s ridiculous. Forget Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, Eric Bledsoe, DeAndre Jordan, and everyone else on the Clippers in 2K13, Crawford is by far the best. You shouldn’t be able to score 60-plus consistently with a player with a rating under 80, but with this guy you can. His jump shot is unstoppable and one of the quickest releases in the games. His range? Stephen Curry-esque — take a few steps away from the three-point line and you’ll see what I mean. Once Crawford catches heat, you better just quit the game or shut the system off because it’s over.
Crawford is easy mode. His jump shot is so lethal, but his quickness is also insane. These two combine for the ability to literally get any shot off that you want, while being wide open in the process. Also, add in the fact that his jump shot is so easy to learn and master. It’s harder to miss with Crawford in 2K13 than make it. That’s saying something. You know if you had a My Player in 2K13 you used Crawford’s jump shot, don’t lie! Don’t mind me as I go pop 2K13 in and take a spin with Crawford again.
15. STEVE NASH
I was tortured by this guy so much in 2K8… well, he was great in the game for a while (still is to a point), but 2K8 was something else. His jump shot, especially from downtown, was silly. It seemed everything would drop. Some games it got to the point where you purposely took crazy shots just to see how far his range would extend. In 2K8, Nash was sort of like Steph Curry in 2K13 with updated rosters: absolutely insane. Combine that with his counterpart, Amar’e Stoudemire, who will be discussed, and you have a deadly duo here. Some of you might of lost sleep thinking of all those 2K8 Steve Nash jumpers going in the net.
14. DIRK NOWITZKI
After his NBA Finals win in 2011, Dirk was coming off a season that officially anointed him as a top-tier NBA player. Who knows if we’ll ever see a playoff performance like we did by Dirk that season. In 2K12, Dirk somehow received a low rating of 85, but the developers fooled us all. For a while I didn’t use Dirk, because of his rating, but my god when I did? It was scary good. All you had to do was run up the court, run a Dirk post-up play, and flick the shot stick. That’s ALL it took. Even if you didn’t post up, his jumper was literally unstoppable, even with a hand in your face. His size, combined with the finesse and post ability, made him unstoppable. Even if you double-teamed him, he found a way to put the ball in the bucket.
Instead of worrying about winning games, I was worrying about scoring as many points with Dirk as possible. The highest I got in 2K12 with Dirk was 68, which is insane in the short five-minute quarters the game allows online. Once you realized how easy it was, Dirk made you focus on how many points you could score with him, not the actual outcome of the game.
13. AMAR’E STOUDEMIRE
Amar’e “STAT” Stoudemire is a good player, don’t get me wrong, but he’s Hall-of-Fame good in 2K9. Paired with Steve Nash, he’s unstoppable. The pick-nroll game is just unfair. Wait for the roll, and throw an oop. It’s automatic. Being a power forward in the game is probably his best advantage. His midrange jumper is silky smooth and automatic at the same time. Amar’e even had the ability to step out and hit a three every once in a while if you left him open.
Having a dual threat with his midrange game and freakish ability to just bang on anyone in his way was a nightmare for whoever was on the other side of the screen. For some reason, Amar’e was always an amazing rebounder in the 2K series, and this one was no different. I know it’s weird to talk about players having hitting their “prime” in a video game sense, but Amar’e definitely was in his prime in 2K9.
12. DERRICK ROSE
Coming off his first MVP season, Derrick Rose seemed to be at the top of his game. Come to think of it, he’s the only player we’ve seen win MVP besides the aforementioned LeBron James since 2008. This propelled his virtual hardwood status as one of the most unstoppable players in 2K12. He could do it all, especially at the point guard position, because he’s bringing the ball up the floor every time, making it even easier to take over. He could snipe from anywhere, dunk with force, and had crossovers that would leave you picking your mouth up off the floor.
If that wasn’t enough, he had a floater in the lane that was as silky as those Valentine boxers your girlfriend got you this year. Derrick Rose was just on top of his game in 2012, reality and virtual-reality. Meek Mill even made a song called “Derrick Rose,” proving how dominate he was. When you no longer hear Kobe, Jordan and LeBron’s names in songs and you start hearing Derrick Rose’s name, something’s up. Video games lovers will rejoice when Derrick Rose returns to the game in 2K14.
11. VINCE CARTER
Remember Vince Carter? Not the one that plays a reserve role on the Mavericks, the REAL Vince Carter? The one that has some of the sickest dunks that the NBA has seen, even to this day? This guy deserves a statue for how amazing and athletic he was. In 2K1, Carter was just a bag of fun to use. The dunks he could drop, along with the ability to shoot lights out from deep, made for a very fun time… if you were using him that is.
When Carter was playing in a league that wasn’t nearly as athletic as it is today, he was one of a kind, a gem. This is an absolute throwback, but one worth taking another look at in 2K1. His performance in 2K1 should serve as a remembrance for his freakish ability to crank out dunks that most of us didn’t even know a human could complete. He’s definitely in the 2K Hall of Fame, and hopefully he’ll be in the real one also.
I could only find this video, but who’s complaining? You get the idea.
10. YAO MING
Ah, Yao, how nice is it to see that name again? Reminds me of how unstoppable this guy was in 2K6. Seriously. There was NO ONE that had anywhere near his height. I mean, his head was pretty much at the rim. It’s easy to forget about Yao because injuries halted his career, but this game truly makes you remember how dominate he was. Standing at 7-6, it’s pretty impossible to find a player that can stop him at the rim. He doesn’t even need post moves, all you needed to do was move him near the rim. Ironically, because his dunk rating was so low, he’d jump and lay the ball in from about two feet above the rim. Weird, but super effective. It’s kind of hard to make someone who’s 7-6 not be unstoppable, because no one can touch his height. Unfortunately, injuries severed his career. However, 2K6 will always be there to remind us of his greatness.
It sucks that I couldn’t find any footage of the big man from that game. But since this video is so epic, I had to throw it in.
9. KEVIN DURANT
Ugh, Kevin Durant in 2K12. What a fun time that was. He was like Dirk, but with insane quickness and length. I mean, the shots he would make would just be insane. You know those times when you drove to the lane and the player does some crazy, double-clutch or reverse layup attempt that you know is going to end up being smacked out of the TV screen? Yeah, Kevin Durant would make those. Kevin Durant made shots in 2K12 that no other player could make, especially at the rim. No matter how many players you had at the rim, Durant’s shots always found a way to the bottom of the basket. And when the fourth quarter started, watch out. This guy made everything, no matter how contested the shot was. When it was crunch time, Kevin Durant went into Hercules mode in 2K12.
8. CARMELO ANTHONY
Of course Carmelo is on this list. In 2K11, everything just went in. Like everything, bottom of the net. His jump shot is one of the easiest in the game, along with the fact that it’s unstoppable. In reality, the Knicks and Carmelo have been an early playoff exit most years. In virtual-reality on 2K11, Carmelo himself can carry the team to every victory. You can’t stop him. Please don’t play man defense on him. You will get destroyed. Try letting the computer take control and it still won’t work. It was pretty much an unsolvable puzzle in 2K11.
7. CHRIS PAUL
The messiah of point guards, Chris Paul was definitely at the top of his class in 2K9. He made the 2K8 cover, but I actually thought he was even better during the following year. Armed with a 99 overall rating, Paul proved to be worth the honor. At his arsenal was a quick crossover, combined with a mean step-back. Paul was hard to contain and stop. If you managed to contain him, you should’ve checked out the stats of his two best friends on the team: David West and Tyson Chandler. If you shut CP3 down in the points department, he was most likely dishing passes off a pick-n-roll to West and Chandler. It was hard to stop one area of Chris Paul’s game in 2K9 and impossible to stop all of them. This combination made him one of the best point guards to ever grace the virtual hardwood.
6. LeBRON JAMES
We all know how dominate The King is in real life, but virtual hardwood LeBron in 2K13 was insane. Take his combination of explosive power, fast-break ability, and all his other MVP abilities and bottle them into a video game player. Someone who has never played video games in their life could grab a controller and score 50 with LeBron in 2K13. He was that good. I’m surprised the developers over at 2K didn’t make LeBron an unlockable feature in this game. You could put LBJ on the Bobcats in 2K13 and the Bobcats would be your 2K13 NBA Champions. Down 30, 20, 10 in the fourth? Just give it to LeBron because he couldn’t can’t be stopped going to the rack. King James was unguardable, unstoppable, uneverything in 2K13. Imagine how much better he will be in 2K14?.
5. SHAQUILLE O’NEAL
Are there any top 10 lists that have to do with basketball that don’t have Shaq on them? One of the most dominant big men to ever play the game, 2K1 was his basketball heaven. He was like a catastrophic earthquake crashing down when he would dunk the ball. Following a campaign that included a NBA championship, NBA Finals MVP and a regular season NBA MVP, how could you not make him absolutely destructive? Imagine trying to make a player coming off a season like that (almost averaged 30 ppg) — it’s impossible to make him not one of the best to ever be in the 2K series. The Big Diesel has been dominating in other games, but 2K1 took the cake.
Again, we couldn’t find any gameplay footage so you’ll have to settle for this. This brings back some memories.
4. TRACY McGRADY
Special shoutout to T-Mac for entering retirement this past offseason. T-Mac, along with AI, are two players that are Hall of Fame worthy, but never were able to eclipse the top of the NBA mountain and win a ring. Even so, I bet you could win more rings than Bill Russell with Tracy McGrady in 2K7. It was easy mode, as easy as slicing a piece of cake. Maybe even easier than eating that cake. McGrady was money and a one-of-a-kind player. It’s a general consensus that he’s one of the best players to ever be in the 2K series: he had a super forgiving release (that culminated in a ridiculously lethal line-drive jumper) and he combined it with obscene hops that the real life T-Mac didn’t really have anymore by 2006. There was a point, and this game was probably it, where he was actually better than Kobe in 2K. Congrats to retirement, T-Mac, and thanks for all the rings I won with you in 2K7.
3. ALLEN IVERSON
You know AI had to appear on this list somewhere. One of the most dominant players to ever grace an NBA floor dominated the virtual NBA floor in 2K3. This is throwing it back about 10 years, but it’s a trip to the past that’s worth taking, especially with his recent retirement. The little man that could, Iverson controlled this game like he was the one using the controller. Gracing the cover of 2K3, his game made it obvious why. Everything was on point. There wasn’t a thing you could do to stop him, just pray he missed. He was too quick to defend, and forget about it on a fast break. His speed was so insane you could literally just run around the court until his defender disappeared and swish an open jumper. Don’t you wish you could find this game and relive the greatness that was Allen Iverson?
2. KOBE BRYANT
Listen, Kobe will Kobe. We all know that. But in 2K10, Kobe will REALLY Kobe. All of the players on this list were insanely good, but Kobe was just unimaginable. It got to the point in the game where the only fair matchup was Lakers vs. Lakers. Kobe was that dominate in 2K10. Let’s not discount his clutch factor either, something he’s known very well for. Needed a game-winning shot in 2K10? Just give it to the Black Mamba and do whatever you want because it will go in! 2K10 Kobe was one of those players that you lose friendships over because you beat a friend so badly using Kobe. Tread water lightly if you pop this game back in. He was comparable to Mike Vick in Madden 2004, aka god mode. I’m not really someone who uses the Lakers in 2K, so I was definitely the guy screaming obscenities at the TV because of Kobe in 2K10. The cover athlete of 2K10 definitely made it obvious why his virtual game was even more lethal than his real game.
1. MICHAEL JORDAN
The greatest player to ever play the game without argument finally appeared in the 2K series in 2K11, without disappointing. Is there any NBA list that doesn’t have MJ at the top? The intro video, dedicated to MJ, still sends chills down my spine. It’s one of those intro videos you actually watch and don’t mash the A button until it goes away. Michael Jordan the player and Michael Jordan the 2K11 player were both sultans of their respective games. It’s funny, because anyone using Michael Jordan in 2K will expect him to be so good that if one shot doesn’t drop, it’s a disappointment. There’s nothing like hitting a huge shot in 2K with Michael Jordan and being able to scream “JORDAN” as it swishes through the net. There’s pretty much nothing you can say about Michael Jordan that hasn’t been said at a point in time. It’s Michael Jordan! His 2K11 feature was no different.
Which players in 2K have been the most unstoppable?
Who have been the most unstoppable players in 2K history?
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