NBA 2K12 Developer Insight #14 - Legends Showcase DLC

November 22, 2011 at 9:34am

Hi everyone.

Ben Bishop here, one of the producers for NBA 2K12. I’m going to get into some of the details regarding our latest addition to the game, the Legends Showcase DLC. This is a project we’ve been pretty excited about for quite some time. First off, I think it’s important to note that this is something we’ve had in the works from the early stages of NBA 2K12’s development cycle. We felt like with all the great things we were doing with Legend players in NBA’s Greatest mode, there was still room for more. We really liked the idea of the NBA’s Greatest teams helping to end the debate about the greatest team of all-time. But that left open a pretty big follow-up question: who is the greatest player of all-time? And with that, the Legends Showcase was born.


This is not Blacktop mode revisited or some simple mode that we yanked off the disc at the last minute. The amount of content we added, from art and presentation to animations and AI, required several months of dedicated time from the team and there’s simply no way it could have been included in NBA 2K12. Legends Showcase really is a full-on unique product that offers a completely different experience from what you get in the main game.


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All that aside, let’s get into what the Legends Showcase is all about. As I’m sure many of you have already heard, there are over 150 Legends to choose from in the DLC. Obviously you’ve got the best of the best available, with players like our three NBA 2K12 cover athletes: Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, and Larry Bird. And along with them come all of the biggest names that were a part of our NBA’s Greatest feature.


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We also felt it was important to include as many of the other all-time greats as we could that weren’t a part of NBA’s Greatest for whatever reason, so that means players like George Mikan, Rick Barry, Elvin Hayes, and Alex English are a part of this experience too. Further, we wanted the Legends Showcase to include, not just Legends in the standard sense, but also players that were simply memorable or would be fun to play with. That means you’ll also see guys like Shawn Bradley, Dan Majerle, Craig Hodges, Gheorghe Muresan, and Kenny Walker there for you to do your best with (or against). While we couldn’t get every single player from NBA history that we would have liked, the available pool is quite extensive and offers a wide range of play styles and personalities that give Legends Showcase a lasting appeal simply due to the sheer amount of match-up possibilities. Oh, and as an extra nice touch, all of these players have the uniforms that go along with the team they were a part of in the peak year we assigned for them (see the full roster below). So you’ll see a ton of new uniforms (both home and away) in Legends Showcase, which was one of the bigger undertakings for our art team once development on the main game finished up.


Before talking specifically about each of the available modes, I wanted to single out some additional visual and presentation aspects that are a big part of the Legends Showcase. First, as you’ve probably seen, all the games are played on a fantasy court in New York City’s iconic Times Square. Since we are already stretching the boundaries of reality a bit by bringing together all of these Legends in their primes, we thought it was appropriate to give them a unique and exciting environment to compete in. Second, we created a special cell-shaded effect that gets applied to everything (from the environment, to the crowd, to the players themselves) to really help set the experience apart from anything else we’ve ever done. Presentation has always been a strength in our games, so we made sure to extend as much of that to the DLC as we could. Legends Showcase has completely new overlays, wipes, and replays, all designed to fit in with the cell-shaded Times Square atmosphere. There’s an emcee calling out the action as it happens, introducing players, pumping up the crowd, highlighting key plays, and even getting as specific as talking about the various unique shots in H-O-R-S-E. All in all, we took significant steps to make sure that the Legends Showcase had its own special visual and presentation package that not only fit in with the impetus behind the mode, but that also achieved the same level of quality people are used to seeing in the NBA 2K series.


And now for the available gameplay modes. We’ll take them in order:


2v2 Teammate Challenge

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Find out who the greatest teammate pairing of all-time is. You choose from one of 15 preset duos and try to take out the rest in games to 11.  From MJ-Pippen to Bird-McHale to Wilt-West, you can try your luck with some of the best individual players paired up or go with a team like Stockton-Malone that is best known for playing together. Or maybe you have a soft spot for one of the more recent pairs, like Kemp-Payton, LJ-Zo, or Hardaway-Mullin, all of whom are tons of fun to play with. And let’s not forget my personal favorite team of Shaq-Penny. With all the different styles of play and interesting strengths and weaknesses of the teammate pairs, there are so many ways you can challenge yourself when approaching this mode. And as an added bonus, once you’ve beaten the 2v2 Teammate Challenge, all of the players in the NBA’s Greatest mode become unlocked for use in NBA: Creating a Legend mode. Much like you were able to bring MJ into today’s NBA in NBA 2K11, you can now see how Bill Russell or Oscar Robertson would fare in the current game.


3v3 Era Challenge

The 3v3 Era Challenge is structured a lot like the 2v2 Teammate Challenge. Here, however, players are grouped by era, with two teams of 3 players from each decade of the NBA represented (1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, 2000s). Again, you choose from one of these teams and battle it out against the rest to see which era comes out on top. You can go old school with Russell-West-Oscar, well-rounded with Robinson-Pippen-Stockton, or stay a bit more current with Duncan-Dirk-Kobe. Once you’ve made it past each of those teams, you get one final test against the newest generation of NBA stars. Take those last two teams out, and you’ll unlock the ability to use the NBA’s current stars throughout the Legends Showcase.



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H-O-R-S-E is one of my personal favorite parts of the DLC. It’s pretty much exactly what you would think – use the Legends players in a game of trick shots to see who can come out on top. What’s most exciting about this mode is that it’s something very different from anything we’ve done before. Not only did we motion capture a wide variety of trick shots (some of which are standard H-O-R-S-E shots and others which are a little more creative), we also allow you to move freely throughout the environment and shoot from pretty much anywhere. If you want to try a desperation heave from over 100 feet away, go for it. And to take it a step further, we even added several specific locations for shots where you are interacting directly with the environment, like on top of the basket stanchion or on top of the stage used intros. We leave it up to you to discover those spots as you’re exploring the environment.


Because of the nature of H-O-R-S-E shots being so different from regular jump shots, we wanted to use a completely new mechanic here that better reflected the difference between an easy shot and an extremely difficult one. First, you decide which shot you want to take and from what part of the environment. Then, determine the shot’s arc (anything from a flat beeline to a steep rainbow). And finally, as your shot is initiated, follow the power meter as it travels along the arc and stop it in the designated sweet spot. The general difficulty of the shot, the distance from the basket, and the players’ abilities all factor in to how fast the power meter is moving, so make sure you’re prepared to react quickly if you decide to do something like a drop kick from the other end of the court. And just like on the playground, you can call a bank shot or a swish (or the vaunted bank/swish combo) to add some additional flair to your shot. Bank shots will be more difficult to make, of course, and you better get your arc and timing just right if you want to hit nothing but net.


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Of all the modes in the Legends Showcase DLC, H-O-R-S-E is probably the one where we stretch the limits of simulation basketball the most to have a little fun. While all of the shots you can take are generally physically possible, you’ll see them go in more than you would in real life. But hey, these are Legends after all, right? Think of it like the old Jordan vs. Bird McDonalds commercial come to life, only with a Times Square cell-shaded twist and way more competitors to choose from. All in all, it’s an interesting departure from everything else that’s available and more centered around standard basketball and it’s a mode we had a lot of fun putting together.


Game of 21

With all of the Legends available in an outdoor fantasy environment with a street sort of feel to things, we felt like it made a lot of sense to include 21 as one of the available options. With all of the standard rules from needing to hit 21, it’s a fun representation of the classic playground game we all remember playing as kids. And with the opportunity to pit MJ vs. Dr. J vs. Kobe vs. LeBron or whatever insane match-up you can think of, there are all sorts of possibilities. One of my favorite things to do is take a player like Kobe and go up against Russell, Olajuwon, and Mutombo. Just seeing those three guys lined up, knowing you’ll have to beat of them to get to the hole, is pretty intimidating.


Pick-Up Game

Pick-Up Game is pretty much what it sounds like. This is the mode where you have the most freedom to create whatever match-ups you want with plenty of customizable rules option to select from. You can play from 1-on-1 up to 5-on-5 with the ability to choose what you want for things like Difficulty, Game Style (Casual or Simulation), Winning Score (5-50), Clear Ball (On or Off), Win By 2 (On or Off), and Winners Outs (On or Off). This is the best place to really determine who is the best player of all-time. Once you’ve unlocked the current NBA players, you can do things like pit Kobe vs. Jordan, Howard vs. Wilt, or Oscar vs. LeBron. One of the other things I like to do here is play all-time franchise teams against each other. For example, you can run out a Lakers Five of Magic-Kobe-Worthy-Gasol-Kareem against a Bulls 5 of Rose-MJ-Pippen-Rodman-Gilmore. And if you really want to mix things up, try a trio of Shawn Bradley-Gheorghe Muresan-Mark Eaton against Muggsy Bogues-Spud Webb-Nate Robinson and see what happens.


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It’s also important to note that, while the Legends Showcase takes place in more of a street environment in Times Square, it’s still a simulation at heart. While we captured some fancier passes, dribble moves, and dunks to make the Legends stand out and differentiate the gameplay, it’s all still grounded in reality. Think of it as a sort of a street simulation. We even made sure to spend a significant amount of time honing the AI for this type of game. We want 1v1, 2v2, and 3v3 games to feel special not just because of the Legends involved, but also because the game is being played the way you’d expect it to be.


And finally, don’t forget that with the Legends Showcase, you will open up a new option in the Online portion of the main game called Classic Quick Match. This gives you a chance to play online with all of the NBA’s Greatest teams in a standard simulation setting. This is completely outside of the Times Square, cell-shaded DLC environment and with only these all-time teams to choose from, it will hopefully help maintain an even playing field. Additionally, you’ll also have full roster control over all those NBA’s Greatest teams so you can bring them into Association mode, or edit, trade, and release players, you can do all that too.


With the debate about the greatest team of all-time hopefully being settled with NBA’s Greatest, one of the coolest elements about the Legends Showcase DLC is that it gives you the opportunity to answer a few more of those burning questions. Who is the greatest individual player of all-time? Who is the greatest teammate duo of all-time? Which era is the best of all-time? Who is the greatest trick shot artist of all-time? To put it simply, our main goal with Legends Showcase was to create an entirely new experience centered on the Legends.  We feel like there’s a ton of content here that can be appreciated, whether you’re a hardcore basketball historian or just a casual fan.


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Before I finish this up, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention one other key piece of the Legends Showcase: Where do YOU fit in against the greatest NBA players of all-time? That’s right, you can import your My Player (as Ronnie2K has done here) and see if you can compete with the best of the best. Want to find out if you can take MJ 1-on-1? How about teaming up with Bird and McHale to see if you can take out an Isiah Thomas-Joe Dumars-Bill Laimbeer or Magic Johnson-James Worthy-Kareem Abdul-Jabbar trio? Or what about trying your hand against Pete Maravich in H-O-R-S-E? Any match-up you can think of with almost all of the significant players in NBA history is right there at your fingertips.


I could keep going on about some of my other favorite things to try (Shaq vs. Mikan, Thompson vs. Gervin, Wilt vs. Russell, Chris Paul vs. Isiah, to name a few more – sorry, I couldn’t resist), but it’s probably about time I wrapped this up and left the rest of the fantasy scenarios to everyone else.


The full roster is below:

George Mikan 1951 Lakers

Bob Cousy 1957 Celtics

Bob Pettit 1959 Hawks

Nate Thurmond 1967 Warriors

Lenny Wilkens 1968 Hawks

Dave Bing 1968 Pistons

Wes Unseld 1969 Bullets

Connie Hawkins 1970 Suns

Dave Cowens 1973 Celtics

Tiny Archibald 1973 Kings

Spencer Haywood 1973 Sonics

Bob McAdoo 1975 Braves

Elvin Hayes 1975 Bullets

Rick Barry 1975 Warriors

Bob Lanier 1977 Pistons

Artis Gilmore 1978 Bulls

David Thompson 1978 Nuggets

Jamaal Wilkes 1981 Lakers

World B. Free 1981 Warriors

Jack Sikma 1982 Sonics

Alex English 1983 Nuggets

Adrian Dantley 1984 Jazz

Bernard King 1984 Knicks

Rolando Blackman 1984 Mavericks

Kiki Vandeweghe 1984 Nuggets

Mark Eaton 1985 Jazz

Sleepy Floyd 1987 Warriors

Fat Lever 1988 Nuggets

Mark Jackson 1989 Knicks

Kenny Walker 1989 Knicks

Dale Ellis 1989 Sonics

Derek Harper 1990 Mavericks

Tom Chambers 1990 Suns

Kevin Johnson 1990 Suns

Reggie Lewis 1993 Celtics

Dan Majerle 1993 Suns

Kenny Anderson 1994 Nets

Cedric Ceballos 1994 Suns

Dee Brown 1995 Celtics

Gheorge Muresan 1996 Bullets

Glen Rice 1997 Hornets

Shawn Bradley 1997 Mavericks

Steve Smith 1998 Hawks

Jalen Rose 2001 Pacers

Jamal Mashburn 2003 Hornets

Yao Ming 2009 Rockets

Tom Heinsohn 1961 Celtics

Elgin Baylor 1961 Lakers

Oscar Robertson 1962 Royals

Wilt Chamberlain 1962 Warriors

Walt Bellamy 1964 Bullets

Sam Jones 1965 Celtics

Bill Russell 1965 Celtics

Tom Sanders 1965 Celtics

Jerry Lucas 1966 Royals

Dick Barnett 1968 Knicks

Willis Reed 1970 Knicks

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 1971 Bucks

John Havlicek 1971 Celtics

Lou Hudson 1971 Hawks

Wilt Chamberlain 1971 Lakers

Jerry West 1971 Lakers

Dave DeBusschere 1972 Knicks

Walt Frazier 1972 Knicks

Gail Goodrich 1972 Lakers

Earl Monroe 1975 Knicks

Bob Dandridge 1976 Bucks

Julius Erving 1977 76ers

George McGinnis 1977 76ers

Pete Maravich 1977 Jazz

Bill Walton 1978 Trailblazers

George Gervin 1979 Spurs

Darryl Dawkins 1980 76ers

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 1980 Lakers

Bobby Jones 1982 76ers

Robert Parish 1982 Celtics

Maurice Cheeks 1983 76ers

Moses Malone 1983 76ers

Tree Rollins 1983 Hawks

Buck Williams 1983 Nets

Mark Aguirre 1984 Mavericks

Terry Cummings 1985 Bucks

Sidney Moncrief 1985 Bucks

Paul Pressey 1985 Bucks

Bill Laimbeer 1985 Pistons

Isiah Thomas 1985 Pistons

Orlando Woolridge 1986 Bulls

Larry Bird 1986 Celtics

Dennis Johnson 1986 Celtics

Kevin McHale 1986 Celtics

Doc Rivers 1986 Hawks

Dominique Wilkins 1986 Hawks

Michael Cooper 1987 Lakers

Magic Johnson 1987 Lakers

Byron Scott 1987 Lakers

Rodney McCray 1987 Rockets

Danny Ainge 1988 Celtics

Bill Cartwright 1989 Bulls

Craig Hodges 1989 Bulls

Larry Nance 1989 Cavaliers

Clyde Drexler 1989 Trailblazers

Jerome Kersey 1989 Trailblazers

Patrick Ewing 1990 Knicks

A.C. Green 1990 Lakers

Chuck Person 1990 Pacers

Hersey Hawkins 1991 76ers

Spud Webb 1991 Hawks

Sam Perkins 1991 Lakers

James Worthy 1991 Lakers

Vernon Maxwell 1991 Rockets

Kenny Smith 1991 Rockets

Otis Thorpe 1991 Rockets

Terry Porter 1991 Trailblazers

Tim Hardaway 1991 Warriors

Chris Mullin 1991 Warriors

Mitch Richmond 1991 Warriors

Brad Daugherty 1992 Cavaliers

Mark Price 1992 Cavaliers

Kevin Willis 1992 Hawks

Kendall Gill 1992 Hornets

Reggie Williams 1992 Nuggets

Ricky Pierce 1992 Sonics

Horace Grant 1993 Bulls

Michael Jordan 1993 Bulls

Muggsy Bogues 1993 Hornets

Dell Curry 1993 Hornets

Larry Johnson 1993 Hornets

Alonzo Mourning 1993 Hornets

Nick Anderson 1993 Magic

Drazen Petrovic 1993 Nets

Detlef Schrempf 1993 Pacers

Joe Dumars 1993 Pistons

B.J. Armstrong 1994 Bulls

Ron Harper 1994 Clippers

John Stockton 1994 Jazz

Charles Oakley 1994 Knicks

John Starks 1994 Knicks

Dikembe Mutombo 1994 Nuggets

Robert Horry 1994 Rockets

Hakeem Olajuwon 1994 Rockets

David Robinson 1994 Spurs

Cliff Robinson 1994 Trailblazers

Vlade Divac 1995 Lakers

Shaquille O'Neal 1995 Lakers

Penny Hardaway 1995 Magic

Robert Pack 1995 Nuggets

Steve Kerr 1996 Bulls

Toni Kukoc 1996 Bulls

Scottie Pippen 1996 Bulls

Dennis Rodman 1996 Bulls

Anthony Mason 1996 Knicks

Dennis Scott 1996 Magic

Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf 1996 Nuggets

Clyde Drexler 1996 Rockets

Shawn Kemp 1996 Sonics

Gary Payton 1996 Sonics

Sean Elliott 1996 Spurs

Avery Johnson 1996 Spurs

Karl Malone 1997 Jazz

Jeff Hornacek 1998 Jazz

Eddie Jones 1998 Lakers

Shaquille O'Neal 2000 Lakers

Doug Christie 2001 Kings

Chris Webber 2001 Kings

Sam Cassell 2002 Bucks

Grant Hill 1997 Pistons

Vince Carter 2001 Raptors

Andre Miller 2002 Cavaliers

Jason Kidd 2002 Nets

Kobe Bryant 2003 Lakers

Derek Fisher 2003 Lakers

Tracy McGrady 2003 Magic

Ben Wallace 2003 Pistons

Tim Duncan 2003 Spurs

Baron Davis 2004 Hornets

Andrei Kirilenko 2004 Jazz

Peja Stojakovic 2004 Kings

Ron Artest 2004 Pacers

Kevin Garnett 2004 Timberwolves

Mike Bibby 2005 Kings

Ray Allen 2005 Sonics

Rashard Lewis 2005 Sonics

Michael Redd 2006 Bucks

Richard Hamilton 2006 Pistons

Shawn Marion 2006 Suns

Steve Nash 2006 Suns

Jason Richardson 2006 Warriors

Gilbert Arenas 2006 Wizards

Mike Miller 2007 Grizzlies

Hedo Turkoglu 2008 Magic

Marcus Camby 2008 Nuggets

Brandon Roy 2009 Trailblazers

Elton Brand 2011 76ers

Jrue Holiday 2011 76ers

Andre Iguodala 2011 76ers

Jodie Meeks 2011 76ers

Evan Turner 2011 76ers

Lou Williams 2011 76ers

Thaddeus Young 2011 76ers

D.J. Augustin 2011 Bobcats

Gerald Henderson 2011 Bobcats

Andrew Bogut 2011 Bucks

Carlos Delfino 2011 Bucks

Stephen Jackson 2011 Bucks

Brandon Jennings 2011 Bucks

Carlos Boozer 2011 Bulls

Luol Deng 2011 Bulls

Kyle Korver 2011 Bulls

Joakim Noah 2011 Bulls

Derrick Rose 2011 Bulls

Antawn Jamison 2011 Cavaliers

Anderson Varejao 2011 Cavaliers

Glen Davis 2011 Celtics

Jeff Green 2011 Celtics

Paul Pierce 2011 Celtics

Rajon Rondo 2011 Celtics

Randy Foye 2011 Clippers

Eric Gordon 2011 Clippers

Blake Griffin 2011 Clippers

DeAndre Jordan 2011 Clippers

Chris Kaman 2011 Clippers

Mo Williams 2011 Clippers

Tony Allen 2011 Grizzlies

Mike Conley 2011 Grizzlies

Marc Gasol 2011 Grizzlies

Rudy Gay 2011 Grizzlies

O.J. Mayo 2011 Grizzlies

Zach Randolph 2011 Grizzlies

Jamal Crawford 2011 Hawks

Kirk Hinrich 2011 Hawks

Al Horford 2011 Hawks

Joe Johnson 2011 Hawks

Josh Smith 2011 Hawks

Chris Bosh 2011 Heat

LeBron James 2011 Heat

Dwyane Wade 2011 Heat

Trevor Ariza 2011 Hornets

Carl Landry 2011 Hornets

Emeka Okafor 2011 Hornets

Chris Paul 2011 Hornets

David West 2011 Hornets

Derrick Favors 2011 Jazz

Devin Harris 2011 Jazz

Gordon Hayward 2011 Jazz

Al Jefferson 2011 Jazz

C.J. Miles 2011 Jazz

Paul Millsap 2011 Jazz

DeMarcus Cousins 2011 Kings

Tyreke Evans 2011 Kings

J.J. Hickson 2011 Kings

John Salmons 2011 Kings

Marcus Thornton 2011 Kings

Carmelo Anthony 2011 Knicks

Chauncey Billups 2011 Knicks

Toney Douglas 2011 Knicks

Landry Fields 2011 Knicks

Amar'e Stoudemire 2011 Knicks

Shannon Brown 2011 Lakers

Andrew Bynum 2011 Lakers

Pau Gasol 2011 Lakers

Lamar Odom 2011 Lakers

Brandon Bass 2011 Magic

Dwight Howard 2011 Magic

Jameer Nelson 2011 Magic

J.J. Redick 2011 Magic

Caron Butler 2011 Mavericks

Dirk Nowitzki 2011 Mavericks

Jason Terry 2011 Mavericks

Kris Humphries 2011 Nets

Brook Lopez 2011 Nets

Deron Williams 2011 Nets

Arron Afflalo 2011 Nuggets

Chris Andersen 2011 Nuggets

Wilson Chandler 2011 Nuggets

Danilo Gallinari 2011 Nuggets

Ty Lawson 2011 Nuggets

Nene Nene 2011 Nuggets

J.R. Smith 2011 Nuggets

Darren Collison 2011 Pacers

Paul George 2011 Pacers

Danny Granger 2011 Pacers

Tyler Hansbrough 2011 Pacers

Roy Hibbert 2011 Pacers

Ben Gordon 2011 Pistons

Greg Monroe 2011 Pistons

Tayshaun Prince 2011 Pistons

Rodney Stuckey 2011 Pistons

Leandro Barbosa 2011 Raptors

Andrea Bargnani 2011 Raptors

Jose Calderon 2011 Raptors

Ed Davis 2011 Raptors

DeMar DeRozan 2011 Raptors

Jonny Flynn 2011 Rockets

Kyle Lowry 2011 Rockets

Kevin Martin 2011 Rockets

Patrick Patterson 2011 Rockets

Luis Scola 2011 Rockets

Manu Ginobili 2011 Spurs

Richard Jefferson 2011 Spurs

Tony Parker 2011 Spurs

Channing Frye 2011 Suns

Marcin Gortat 2011 Suns

Hakim Warrick 2011 Suns

Kevin Durant 2011 Thunder

James Harden 2011 Thunder

Serge Ibaka 2011 Thunder

Kendrick Perkins 2011 Thunder

Nate Robinson 2011 Thunder

Russell Westbrook 2011 Thunder

Michael Beasley 2011 Timberwolves

Wes Johnson 2011 Timberwolves

Kevin Love 2011 Timberwolves

Anthony Randolph 2011 Timberwolves

Ricky Rubio 2011 Timberwolves

Sebastian Telfair 2011 Timberwolves

LaMarcus Aldridge 2011 Trailblazers

Nicolas Batum 2011 Trailblazers

Raymond Felton 2011 Trailblazers

Wesley Matthews 2011 Trailblazers

Greg Oden 2011 Trailblazers

Gerald Wallace 2011 Trailblazers

Steph Curry 2011 Warriors

Monta Ellis 2011 Warriors

David Lee 2011 Warriors

Dorell Wright 2011 Warriors

Andray Blatche 2011 Wizards

Jordan Crawford 2011 Wizards

Javale McGee 2011 Wizards

John Wall 2011 Wizards

Nick Young 2011 Wizards


Keep an eye out for the Legends Showcase on the Xbox Live Marketplace and PSN Store early next week – it’ll be available on 11/29.


- Ben Bishop

Producer, NBA 2K12 Legends Showcase