NBA 2K23’s Jordan Challenge Looks So Good, I’m Now Annoyed With All Other Sports Games

When Visual Concepts used NBA 2K11 to celebrate the illustrious career of basketball’s greatest player, Michael Jordan, the end result was a fun side attraction from the main game. The Jordan Challenge allowed players to re-enact 10 of Jordan’s greatest career highlights in ways that might’ve felt nostalgic or educational, depending on the age and knowledge of any particular player. In NBA 2K23, the Jordan Challenge is returning, but it appears to be far from a rehash of highlights long-time players already experienced. Bigger than before and with incredible attention to detail, the NBA 2K23 Jordan Challenge looks so cool that it’s made me frustrated that no other sports sims are doing something similar.

This year’s Jordan Challenge is plainly bigger on a basic level, giving players 15 challenges based on Jordan’s most iconic moments. These include moments like The Shrug, The Flu Game, and even Jordan’s “last dance” game in 1998. Moments like these were cool in 2K11, but they still felt very similar to any other experience in that game. In 2K23, the bar is being raised to depict each Jordan challenge in its era-appropriate context. They include visual filters, arena makeovers, changes to the rulebook and playstyles, and HUD adjustments that will give the game an evolving look authentic to each moment in time.

Beginning with Jordan’s days as a freshman at the University of North Carolina (UNC) and ending with his last game in a Chicago Bulls jersey, each challenge will be accompanied by talking-head segments that use real interviews the Visual Concepts team conducted for the game mode to help contextualize the importance of each playable re-enactment. These include interviews with people such as Marv Albert, commentator for The Shrug Game, rival Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, former teammate Dennis Rodman, coach Phil Jackson, and more. Even Ray Clay, the Bulls’ stadium announcer for many years who has previously only been voice-matched in the game, is a part of the experience.

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