Throwback Thursday: NBA Live 99 and the lockout

Happy Throwback Thursday, everyone. 15 years and one day ago the lockout-shortened 1999 season tipped off. Labor disputes only lasted so long because Antoine Walker was on the cover of NBA Live 99.

Fine, that’s not true, probably. Maybe Walker wasn’t the best choice for the cover of the game, but neither was Tim Hardaway the year before and I played NBA Live 98 long after the Jordan era ended. ’99 held up in reviews too with IGN rating it an 8.0 for Nintendo 64, 8.6 for PC, and 9.0 for PlayStation. GameSpot wasn’t as friendly, basically giving the game one less point than IGN did for each respective gaming system.

There was nothing too memorable about the game to me, mostly because I bought it with a value pack with Tiger Woods PGA Tour ’99, Madden 99, and NHL 99. (Also, I was only 10 years old.) It was the first time the NBA Live series had a franchise mode, though, lasting 10 years. From what I remember, you could also goaltend either by mistake or intentionally. I turned that rule off, made my dream team featuring Chris Webber, among others, and protected the rim to the point SportVU’s player tracking data would blow up.

Antoine Walkers 1999 campaign wasn’t too shabby either, at least compared to the rest of his career. Looking at his Basketball-Reference page, a couple things stick out from that season:

  1. Walker shot a career-best 36.9 percent from three, which sums up his career but still. Okay, he followed that up in 2000 by shooting a career-worst 25.6 percent on 3.5 attempts, then took nearly 1,250 threes the next two seasons, but moving on.
  2. Walker recorded 1.9 defensive win shares, as many if not more than players like Shaquille O’Neal, Doug Christie, Kobe Bryant, Dale Davis, and Tracy McGrady. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts though, win shares have their flaws like any other stat. Heck, during the Detroit Pistons’ title seasons of 1989 and ’90, Dennis Rodman had twice the offensive win shares as Isiah Thomas. Also, Walker recorded 5.2 defensive win shares in 2002. His steal totals were nice and Boston was fifth in defensive efficiency that season according to, but no.

Regardless of what happened in 1999, the NBA Live series came out with a bang in 2000 both with the cover player (Tim Duncan) and the gameplay itself. Kevin Garnett made the arguably the best cover the following year and then…ugh. To me, Steve Francis on the cover of NBA Live 2002 marked the beginning of the end of the franchise as king of the hill. It’s hard to find where it hit rock bottom but Kyrie Irving on this season’s cover is a decent starting point, especially after last night.

Any thoughts on NBA Live during the the ’90s are certainly welcome.


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2 thoughts on “Throwback Thursday: NBA Live 99 and the lockout

  1. Pete Sorice February 6, 2014 at 6:17 pm Reply

    Nice post! When NBA Live ’95 came out it was a massive leap forward for sports games. Besides the arcade-style NBA Jam there were very few solid options. Bulls vs. Blazers was ok for it’s time but “Live” blew it all away. It was “real” enough plus the ability for guys to go nuts draining three’s it was still exciting.

    • Matt Femrite February 6, 2014 at 6:24 pm Reply

      And the flat tops looked so real, a crucial element for 90s basketball games to nail IMO.

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