NBA 2K20 taught me about basketball and now I love it

NBA 2K20

Since NBA 2K20 was one of the Playstation Plus games earlier this year, I got around to playing it. The result? I’m a newfound New York Knicks fan, look up to LeBron James, and look forward to trying NBA 2K21 on next-gen consoles.

I have a pretty brief history with basketball. It didn’t really gel with me in school. I was more of a football/soccer kid – and I’ve probably never watched an NBA game in my life. Of course, I’ve seen Space Jam, though – in case you’re wondering. That basically makes me a basketball expert, right?

As for my history with basketball sports games, before playing NBA 2K20, I’ve only ever played 2K16. This is in part because that was also offered with Playstation Plus, but mostly because Spike Lee directed and wrote the MyCareer Mode. This being said, I was horrible at the game, didn’t understand what I was doing, and don’t remember literally anything about the story mode. I moved on to other games thinking that ‘huh, maybe this just isn’t for me.’

MyCareer Strikes Back

As such, when NBA 2K20 was announced for Playstation Plus I very quickly dismissed it. After all, I had given 2K a fair shot in the past and this wasn’t going to be any different. How much do sports games actually change from year to year? However, after redeeming the game, I decided on a whim – and despite my earlier judgement – to download it and check it out anyway.

I did not know where to start but I figured MyCareer would be a great starting point since that probably has more tutorials than the other game modes which seemed very intimidating to a newcomer such as myself. So I got started on making my player, modeling him after me as much as I could given the fact that I could never get the companion app’s Face Scan working. Eventually, I got confronted with my toughest decision yet: the position to play.


What is a point guard? How’s that similar and/or different to a shooting guard? Can you even shoot for something other than points? Why is there a position called center when the power forward really sounds like they would naturally take up the center of the court? Does a small forward have to be small in order to excel? If not, why does this position sound so diminutive?

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Dumbfounded, as you may imagine, by roles I could not differentiate from one another, I based a very important decision in the life of my NBA player on a ridiculous factor: a quick Google search for ‘what NBA position should I play as?’ gave me a quiz which, naturally, I was ready to take as gospel.

The result? My 2K equivalent is now a small forward which I think is very fitting based on the fact that he is very short for a basketball player and weighs as much as two folded cardboard boxes. Remember, I’m modeling him after myself. I’m not particularly tall and nowhere near a heavyweight.

And so I started playing as a small forward and ended up loving it. It took me a while to realize that I work best on the fastbreak and on the inside, but I eventually learned everything about what makes the position click. I also quickly became an expert in layups and alley-oop passes but still have no idea how to land three-pointers. My appreciation for superstars like LeBron James and Michael Jordan (small forwards that even I knew of long before playing 2K20) grew twofold, too. 

The Draft

Nevertheless, I eventually made it past the rookie stages and was confronted with another critical decision. What team should I trial for and hope picks me up?

The New York Knicks eventually picked me up, my first choice. I based this decision, predictably, on a quiz as well. Buzzfeed, if I remember correctly, came to the rescue this time around to let me know that if I were a basketball player, I should play for the Knicks.

And so I ended up playing for the New York Knicks, a team I never even knew existed but one I bonded with quite quickly. I’m a huge R.J. Barett fan now, truly love Madison Square Garden, and am strongly considering ordering a Knicks tank top because the visual language is wonderful.

And yes, before you mention it, the Knicks aren’t great in terms of the power rankings. And that’s okay. I adore playing for a team that may be considered an underdog and one that has such a storied tradition. It also helps that Spike Lee is a Knicks fan as well, so I suppose my 2K story came full circle in a way.


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At the end of my first season with the Knicks, we placed quite low in the Eastern Conference. On a personal level, it was a huge success as I got promoted to being the Knicks’ franchise player (because basketball apparently has one player that teams are based around). I also only narrowly missed the Rookie of the Year award, which went to the immensely talented Zion Williamson.

As for what the future holds for me and the Knicks, I’m looking forward to perhaps winning a championship with them in 2K21. And who knows? I might even turn on the TV for some NBA action one of these days.

NBA 2K20 came out on August 21, 2019 for PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and Google Stadia.

NBA 2K21 launched on September 4, 2020 for PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and Google Stadia. It’s coming to PS5 and Xbox Series X|S at launch.

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  • Cliff says:

    It’s great that you’ve had this experience with 2K,and the game of basketball in general – 2K20 was the best from the series in quite a while, and I think it still plays better than 2K21 by a long shot. The MyCareer mode usually does a pretty decent job at spinning an intriguing basketball narrative… Even if it gets pretty hokey in some of them (like, I thought Spike Lee’s 2K16 storyline was especially cheesy…And I really hated the “Freq” nickname they just forced for your player in that game). Now, if 2K could just stop changing almost everything about the controls every damn season, and build on what actually works…)

  • Justin says:

    Of course you got promoted to the franchise player for the Knicks… 🤣

  • Dre says:

    i unironically love the innocence required to not know how bad the knicks are. 2k got me into basketball, back on 2k13, and i’m still obsessed

  • Dre says:

    once you feel comfortable with the controls and dynamics, you should really look into the other modes, especially myleague. it’s notoriously ignored by the devs in favor of updating the career and team modes, (i didn’t get 2k20 because the only mode i use was exactly the same as 2k19) but if you have an autistic obsession with basketball, it can give you infinite entertainment without having to deal with cringey storylines

  • Francisco says:

    in real life the knicks are where dreams go to die

    until james dolan sells the team

  • Lennox Smith says:

    I agree that 2k20 is not much different from 2k21. I really wish they would just do roster updates and add animations, then charge us half the price 🙄

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