It’s difficult to pick out my most embarrassing “NBA 2K” moment because there are so many to choose from.
College dorm room losses were always brutal and came with in-person heckling that was difficult to shake. There were plenty of blown leads and backfired trash talk in those days.
But the worst experience? It probably came two years ago against a complete stranger using the video game legend that is Kevin Durant, who dropped 55 points on my head in shortened five-minute quarters. The lowlight was made exponentially worse by my opponent having a microphone through which he efficiently extinguished my soul by way of nonstop roasting.
It was then that I determined Durant to be the most unstoppable, unfair offensive weapon in “NBA 2K” among active players. In truth, he’d probably held that mantle for a while, despite the all-world excellence of LeBron James and a rotating cast of other dominant MVP contenders over the past decade. In the upcoming Players Tournament, beginning Friday on ESPN, Durant’s unguardable skill set should be on display for anyone who rocks the Nets.
Now, it’s important to note that I do not suck at the game. I do not allow 50-pieces. I do not allow 40-pieces. I do not even really allow 30-pieces. While I’m by no means great, I can hold my own against most people I run up against.
So when the contest started against this random online competitor, who told me he would beat me without relying on Steph Curry or Klay Thompson for scoring production, I didn’t think much of the matchup. Maybe I’d lose, but falling to the stacked Golden State squad of that year wasn’t shameful. I certainly didn’t think anything embarrassing would take place.
Right away, though, I knew I was in trouble.
Playing as the Nuggets, I had Paul Millsap locked in as Durant’s primary defender. Millsap at that point was still considered one of the more versatile on-ball defenders in the NBA. Maybe not someone who could completely lock down the best of the best, but certainly someone who didn’t get smoked very often.
“Easy money,” my opponent jeered after isolating Durant at the top of the arc and nailing a 3 in my face.
For a bit, I hung around by hitting a series of long-distance shots of my own. When the score is tight in “NBA 2K” it can be difficult to realize just how much a single player is killing your defense.
But the do-everything nature of virtual Durant — much like his real-life self — quickly became far too much to handle against someone well-versed in maximizing the forward’s considerable talent. The trash talk escalated, too.
You know things are bad when your opponent keeps pausing the game to check up on the stats of the player they’re burning you with — and reads said numbers out loud to you each time.
By halftime, Millsap was reassigned, having been crossed over by Durant’s long, sweeping dribbles too many times to count, with many of those moves creating space for open 3s. Durant’s height-speed-shooting combo in the game is absurd. I tried Gary Harris on Durant next, but that just led to Durant using his large frame to overpower Harris inside. Will Barton couldn’t get the job done either.
By the end of the 55-point arc, I was ready to quit “NBA 2K” for good. That didn’t last, of course, but it still took a while to forget about getting destroyed in that manner.
This year, Durant continues to be a force. His 96 rating leads all participants in the Players Tournament, and the way he can stretch the floor, at least in my opinion, narrowly separates him from the likes of James and Giannis Antetokounmpo. Whichever player gets to use the Nets in the Players Tournament, then, will have an instant edge in iso situations, even though the overall team might not be as good as the Lakers or Bucks.
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