When 2K Sports first announced the ‘Jordan Challenge’ and its inclusion in NBA 2K11, it seemed like a brilliant idea. Getting to relive many of a hall of fame athletes greatest moments, and then to get to play as them, proved to be a perfect addition and helped 2K11 deliver serious sales numbers.

Hoping to recreate that same formula, but on a much larger scale, 2K Sports have announced NBA 2K12’s ‘NBA’s Greatest’ mode, which lets gamers relive 15 of the greatest showdowns in basketball’s history, from the perspective of their marquee player. Among the players and teams developer Visual Concepts is making available are the 1971 Lakers with Jerry West, the 1985 Celtics and Larry Bird, and the 1994 Knicks with Patrick Ewing.

Like with the Jordan Challenge in 2K11, ‘NBA’s Greatest’ will allow players, who beat their vicious rival, to play as that classic team in the game’s standard exhibition mode. This option not only opened up the game’s play time, but made for some interesting matchups. Imagine the likes of Jordan’s Bulls taking on the Big Three — wouldn’t that be a matchup?

See below for the complete list of matchups:

  • 1964-65 Boston Celtics (Russell) vs. Los Angeles Lakers
  • 1970-71 Milwaukee Bucks (Robertson) vs. Lakers
  • 1970-71 Lakers (West) vs. Atlanta Hawks
  • 1971-72 Lakers (Chamberlain) vs. Knicks
  • 1984-1985 Philadelphia 76ers (Erving) vs. Bucks
  • 1985-86 Celtics (Bird) vs. Hawks
  • 1986-87 Lakers (Kareem) vs. Celtics
  • 1988-1989 Detroit Pistons (Thomas) vs. Bulls
  • 1990-91 Lakers (Johnson) vs. Portland Trail Blazers
  • 1992-1993 Bulls (Jordan) vs. Charlotte Hornets
  • 1993-1994 Houston Rockets (Olajuwon) vs. Denver Nuggets
  • 1994-1995 Knicks (Ewing) vs. Orlando Magic
  • 1995-1996 Bulls (Pippen) vs. Seattle Supersonics
  • 1997-1998 Utah Jazz (Stockton) vs. Lakers
  • 1997-1998 Jazz (Malone) vs. San Antonio Spurs.

Although not as player-specific as the Jordan Challenge, NBA’s Greatest once again plays on that nostalgia factor for basketball fans, a perfect reason to return to the franchise. It seems like that formula of sports legends is popping up all over the sports game genre as indicated by titles like NHL 12 upping their roster to include some of the game’s greats throughout the years.

Whether that nostalgia will move as many units as Jordan and NBA 2K11 did, is yet to be determined, but with more superstars, the potential is certainly there. And, with the NBA season currently in flux, NBA 2K12 may be your only chance to play out the 2011-2012 season even if it is with a storied team from basketball’s past.

Which classic matchup are you most exciting to play? Do you think that the NBA’s Greatest mode is a better alternative to playing classic moments as another hall of fame athlete like Larry Bird?

NBA 2K12 releases October 4, 2011 on the Xbox 360, PS3, PS2, Wii, and PC.

Source: ESPN