SBD/Issue 20/Sponsorships, Advertising & Marketing

Michael Jordan Tries To Connect To Younger Fan Base In "NBA 2K11"

"NBA 2K11" Includes Jordan-Inspired Features
Based On Memorable Games, Like '97 Finals

Bobcats Owner Michael Jordan said the “deciding factor” in agreeing to be the cover athlete on this year’s “NBA 2K11” was the opportunity “to connect to this generation, when in essence a lot of these young kids never saw me play,” according to Brian Mahoney of the AP. Jordan: “They do remember me from ‘Space Jam,’ but not from basketball. So I felt like this would be a good opportunity to kind of expose them to that.” Jordan had “input in the development of the game,” which was released Tuesday and includes features based on the “Flu Game” in the '97 NBA Finals against the Jazz and the “Shrug Game” in the '92 NBA Finals against the Trail Blazers. To obtain Jordan for their team, players “first have to unlock him by completing the ‘Jordan Challenge,’ a series of 10 of Jordan’s most memorable performances that he helped select.” Once that is completed, fans “can place a rookie Jordan onto their current team as if he were in the 2010 NBA draft.” A commercial for the video game shows Lakers G Kobe Bryant obtaining Jordan to play for the Lakers. Jordan was “one of sports’ top pitchmen" during his playing career, but he "had never before appeared on the cover of an NBA-licensed basketball game” (AP, 10/7).

TWO THUMBS UP: In Charlotte, Langston Wertz Jr. wrote “NBA 2K11” is “one of the best video games in a generation.” You can “try to create 10 of Jordan’s greatest games,” and “if you can get Michael and the Bulls over the top, you can unlock a special mode where you can draft Jordan as a rookie and play out his career.” But the “thing that stands out here is the presentation.” Wertz: “The game really looks and feels like a real TNT broadcast, down to the soundtrack and sound effects. The crowd sometimes will arrive late, and leave early if you’re at home and getting blown out” (CHARLOTTEOBSERVER.com, 10/4). USA TODAY’s Brett Molina gave the game 3.5 stars out of 4 and wrote, “In the era of Kobe and LeBron, The Jordan Challenge serves as a nice history lesson, reminding players of Jordan’s greatness and dominance.” Developers “paid great detail in highlighting Jordan’s classic gestures.” The game also “revisits some of the great teams in NBA history, such as Larry Bird’s championship Celtics squad in 1986 … and the Bad Boys of the Detroit Pistons” (USATODAY.com, 10/7). CBSSPORTS.com’s Royce Young wrote the game is “like the 1991 MJ -- near perfect, but not quite there.” The Jordan Challenge “really is almost a game in itself.” Meanwhile, the announcing team of Kevin Harlan and Clark Kellogg “is terrific.” When a player is using the Thunder, Harlan “talks about how 150 fans or so met the team at the airport after OKC clinched a playoff berth.” There also is an “incredible attention to detail down to things like accurate tattoos and free throw routines” (CBSSPORTS.com, 10/5).

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