A Trip Back In Time #1 – Lakers vs Celtics

Brad Pidgeon


With the NBA Playoffs just around the corner and NBA Live 13 coming later this year I thought it would be a good time to look back at where EA’s basketball simulation games began.

With the NBA Playoffs just kicking off and NBA Live 13 coming later this year I thought it would be a good time to look back at where EA’s basketball simulation games began.



Way back in 1989 the NBA was absolutely stacked with arguably the strongest line up of all-time greats in the leagues’ history and Lakers vs Celtics and the NBA Playoffs on DOS featured them all – Jordan, Magic, Bird, Barkley, Pippen, Kareem & Worthy both with their trademark goggles, Parish, ‘Nique, McHale, Malone, Stockton, Ewing, Isiah, Dumars, Rodman and the most violent man in the game Bill Laimbeer.

The NBA’s top 8 teams were featured plus the two All-Star teams – Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics (duh), Chicago Bulls, Detroit Pistons, New York Knicks, Utah Jazz, the now defunct Seattle SuperSonics and Phoenix Suns. It also was one of the first sports games to have player fatigue which made players basically slow and useless if left on the court too long.



The better players even got some trademark moves. Kareem has his Skyhook, Larry could bomb 3’s  better than most and Jordan could dunk from the free throw line. Unfortunately for Pistons fans the game did not have a “Bad Boys”/”Jordan Rules” option or the Laimbeer flop (Personal note – I HATED the late ‘80’s-early ‘90’s Pistons!) In a precursor to NBA JAM years later, the elite guards and forwards could do two-hand reverse and 360 dunks from the free throw line!

Magic Johnson had ONE dunk style in his whole NBA career which was the one hander then slapping the ball away as it came out the net to delay the opposition but he could 360 with the best of them in Lakers vs Celtics. Who cares though as it was just awesome to do in the game.

Gameplay wise for its day it was the most realistic basketball game out there. Licenced players, fatigue, time outs and varying player abilities made it a tactical simulator especially on “Showtime!” difficulty which is still one of the great game difficulty names of all time.

To play through the NBA Playoffs you had to play in simulation mode on Showtime difficulty and 12 minute quarters which I actually thought was quite a good feature missing from modern sport games – making it reasonably difficult to win the big prize. Mike Tyson Punch-Out difficult this was not but it still offered a solid challenge to win the Larry O’Brien Trophy.

Bird for THREEEE!


Following on from Lakers vs Celtics were Bulls vs Lakers and Bulls vs Blazers which saw additional teams added plus the introduction of features that have become core components of the future NBA Live series such as instant replays, free throw metres and play calling.

Like many kids around the world who got caught up in the basketball phenomenon in the early 90’s, Lakers vs Celticsand the following games became a daily gaming ritual for me and look back all those years I can appreciate the little things the game did so well. Every now and then I still fire it up for a trip back in time…

Working hard "researching"...


Ok now to the future. Leave your thoughts below of what you would like to see in NBA Live 13 and who is your pick to take out the NBA Finals this year. Personally my money is on the Oklahoma City Thunder over the Miami Heat in a classic series. Derrick Rose is too big a loss for the Bulls and I just think OKC will take so much confidence from knocking out the Mavs for the Heat to stop them.

What do you think?



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