The Devil Lives Inside My Playstation 3, and He Hates the Utah Jazz Just Like Everyone Else

Consider this an angry video game review of NBA 2k12. Not because the game’s not good. It’s great. Amazing, even. This is an angry review of NBA2k12 BECAUSE I HATE IT!!!! The great Tool song “Intolerance” has a brilliant chorus consisting of three words sung and screamed over and over: “Lie, cheat and steal! Lie, cheat and steal! Lie cheat and steal!”

Lie, cheat and steal. Exactly. That’s how to win. I cannot wait to have a son to teach these things.

There isn’t any reasonable explanation for what happened to my beloved 1997-1998 Utah Jazz squad earlier today against that same year’s version of the Spurs. It had to be blatant cheating by an artificial intelligence that’s been somehow infused with a sadistic jerk’s personality. Karl Malone was scorching. So was John Stockton, hitting his teammates in stride for easy buckets. Jeff Hornacek hit a couple 3s for me, and I used him late to sink go-ahead free throws (after his customary face wipe that doubles as a shout-out to his kids.) My roll players – original “Big Dog” Antoine Carr, Bryon Russell, Shandon Anderson and Stockton’s great backup Howard Eisley – hit big, clutch shots and got the home crowd of creepy white folk fired up.

All the Spurs had against the Jazz’s chiseled granite defense was David Robinson, scoring over and over again on Greg Ostertag, who is an all-time, ultimate weak link and the biggest reason – I will always believe this – that Utah didn’t win a title. Even bigger than Jordan’s greatness. Ostertag was so terrible. (Thanks again, Shaq, for slapping the Jazz center all those years ago. From the Deseret News in 1997: The players reportedly exchanged words concerning comments made by each other after Utah eliminated Los Angeles from the Western Conference semifinals last season. O’Neal abruptly ended the conversation by slapping Ostertag on the head with an open left hand. The blow knocked the Jazz center, who did not retaliate, to the floor and dislodged a contact lens. Ostertag went on to score just two points in Utah’s 104-87 season-opening loss to the Lakers that night.)

I love the Jazz. Always have. I wear a purple Karl Malone jersey stretched tight against my down jacket when I snowboard, and I’m wearing a white, purple and royal blue Malone jersey as I type this (the one with mountains across the chest). The Mailman gets grief for never winning a championship, but he grabbed 14,000 rebounds and is the second all-time leading scorer in NBA history. At 37, he was in better shape than anyone else in the league. He averaged 25 points and 10 rebounds and worked like a madman to develop a jump shot and improve his free-throw shooting drastically. All you haters, know this: Karl Malone was better at basketball than you will ever be at anything. He had a wonderful career.

NBA2k12 has this game mode called “Greatest,” where you pick from a selection of 15 all-time-great players and then try to win one of that player’s classic games. Wilt, Dr. J, Bill Russell, Magic, Hakeem and even Michael Jordan are among the guys you can control. Win the game as that player’s team, and you permanently unlock both squads to play against any team in the game. So, if I beat the late-90s Spurs with the late-90s Jazz, I could use either team to play against the likes of, say, the current Miami Heat.

Obviously, I want the old Jazz team to play with. Badly. Problem is, the old Spurs are great, with young Tim Duncan and a still-strong Robinson. I keep losing. It’s so frustrating.

This time, though, was different. This time, the whole Jazz team was feeling it. I got behind huge early, but by halftime I’d used Stockton and Malone – Malone posting up, Stockton nailing open jumpers when Mailman was double teamed – to build a two-point lead.

Yada yada yada…. It’s the end of the game. I’ve managed to hold on despite a crazy effort from Robinson. I’m leading by two points with seven seconds left. Spurs point guard Avery Johnson hits a buzzer beater in Stockton’s face. Overtime. This little point guard who was notorious for his shaky jumper hit a buzzer beater on the road. Weak.

Whatever, though. In overtime I was cooking with fire again. The twin towers of Duncan and Robinson were handling Malone, but Big Dog Carr nailed a huge baseline jumper and Anderson and Russell stepped up with slashing drives to the rim for tough lay-ins against the Twin Towers. I was, once again, up two points with under 10 seconds left. Avery Johnson, once again, hit a buzzer beater over Stockton AND Russell (whom I’d taken over to help defensively on that stupid little point guard with the voice of a Disney cartoon character).

Double overtime.

NBA2k12 is the reason I have a Playstation. The game blows my mind. It’s controls are intuitive, to the point where you feel like you can easily pull off any move appropriate within the action of the game. You have to play smart. Shooting 3s all game long will guarantee a loss; you’ve got to work the ball around and be open if you want to hit from long-distance. On a team like the Jazz, I’ve got to establish Malone in the post, then start using him to find open shooters, and mix in some pick-and-roll. As Jordan, I can basically do anything, but using one player to shoot every time is a stupid and unsuccessful way to play, even with the ’96 Bulls. And constantly going for steals on defense is another way to lose.

The graphic are stunning. This almost looks like a real game, with the players all acting like they would on a real court. Malone takes forever before shooting a free throw, babbling to himself as he dribbles the ball and spins it into the air.

But it cheats. It just cheats. In double overtime, I was down four points with about a minute left when a missed shot turned into a fast break for the Jazz. Stockton hit Malone, who had only Stephen Jackson between himself and the rim. Malone bulled through the smaller, weaker Jackson, and put up a layup that rolled out of the hoop. I forced another missed shot on defense, and got the exact same fast-break play again. Malone, again, botched the layup. Game over. The Jazz is still unavailable to me for use in other games.

The cheating god damn Playstation deserved a speedy flight from my hands toward a violent end against the wall. It hurts so bad to be so close and then get robbed. Avery Johnson doesn’t hit two straight buzzer beaters in Utah, and Malone doesn’t miss two easy layups in double overtime.

It hurts, but I’ve been screwed before in dumb games. What’s so much worse this time is that I understand the feeling of watching the Jazz lose this way, maybe more so this time because I controlled them as they fell apart.

NBA2k12, like I said, is an amazing game. I hate it.

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