What Is the Best Basketball Video Game Ever?

As much as we love watching some great NBA games on TV, there’s also something very special about grabbing a controller and playing one of the best basketball games ever made.

Nowadays games allow you to build your own team, participate in the draft, watching NCAA games to recruit the best college stars to your squad. However, it wasn’t always like this and the basketball games were initially based on just the court action.

What are the titles you should look out for when you want to take to the virtual court?

The NBA 2K Series

There is little doubt that the NBA 2K series dominates the basketball game industry. The first title was brought out in 1999 under the name of NBA 2K, with new games coming out regularly since then and each one adding new features or better graphics. But which one of the NBA 2K games is the best of all?

Your favorite NBA 2K game probably just comes down to personal taste and experience. While each new release adds new features or enhancements, you might prefer an earlier version to the current NBA 2K title. There are now over 20 NBA 2K games in the main series, with NBA 2K22 brought out in September 2021 as the latest addition.

The career mode was introduced part of the way through the series and has become an integral part of the game for many players. Add in the incredibly life-like presentation and features such as street basketball and slam dunk contents and we can see why this is such a well-loved franchise. Any of the releases from around NBA 2K19 onwards could easily be called the best basketball game around.

The NBA Street Series

If you prefer the grittiness and the showmanship of street games., the NBA Street series from EA Sports BIG is sure to appeal to you. This series began in 2001 with NBA Street and was followed up with several other games released for different consoles. As the name suggests, the action takes place on street courts where outrageously talented players show off their skills.

This perhaps feels less realistic than the NBA 2K games, but this is something that has been done on purpose by adding eye-catching features like trick moves and power-ups. The best moves are designed to make you feel fantastic about pulling them off rather than looking super-realistic. Play on a half-court or full court, with the number of players on the screen determined by this choice.

As with NBA 2K, there is no definitive answer to the question of which NBA Street game is best. The PlayStation 2 version of the second version is certainly highly-rated thanks to the variety of modes available on it. Made by a team of Canadian hockey fans, it somehow captured the essence of basketball and added in a pumping hip-hop soundtrack for extra thrills. However, fans of the sport will find something to like on any of these titles.


This massively popular game was first brought out as an arcade machine in the early 1990s, created by Midway. It then made its way onto home consoles and became just as popular. The developers in this case went for an exaggerated, cartoon-style game that still contains the magic of basketball but with lots of added fun.

One of the first things to catch a new player’s eye will be the way that players can jump incredibly high, performing slam dunks that even the best NBA players in history couldn’t have dreamed of carrying out. This is an example of how these games mix authentic basketball moves with arcade action.

Most of the NBA Jam series is based on 2×2 gameplay on the court, which you can play against humans or the computer. It was once widely regarded as being the best sports game to play with friends and there’s no doubt that it’s still a lot of fun, even if the graphics on some versions look a bit dated these days.

NBA Live

Perhaps the most realistic of all basketball games, NBA Live is another long-running series from EA Sports that seems to have ended with NBA Live 19, in 2018. The expected NBA Live 20 was then cancelled, and the franchise is officially classed as dormant right now although EA is working on new basketball games of some type.

For some reason, NBA Live has been in the shadow of NBA 2K, with falling sales largely to blame for it being cancelled. However, the gameplay is arguably just as good. The final version – NBA Live 19 – is probably the best of all and well worth checking out.

In NBA Live 19, the career mode known as The One gives you the chance to choose from a wide variety of styles of play as either a male or female player. This game was released for the PS4 and the Xbox One and a lot of critics liked the improved gameplay but weren’t so convinced by the AI used to control computer players.