Today, basketball fans can get their hands on the demo for NBA Live 18 and make a start on its single-player campaign, The One. In order to inject the experience with some realism, EA Tiburon called on two of the most recognizable sports broadcasters around.

When players fire up NBA Live 18 and dive into The One, a lively discussion between Stephen A. Smith and Max Kellerman will be among the first things they see. The pair shot scenes to set up the campaign’s plot in a fictionalized take on their ESPN show First Take.

Smith and Kellerman play themselves with aplomb — their debate flows as freely as an episode of First Take, but it was apparently tightly scripted to ensure that it served its purpose in terms of The One’s narrative. How did EA Tiburon manage to make the most of its special guest stars? A secret weapon on its writing staff.

There would be no point in having Stephen A. Smith in the game if his performance gave the impression that he was just reading lines fed to him by someone else. Fortunately, the developers were able to make it authentic thanks to one writer’s knack for impersonating the broadcaster.

“One of our narrative writers — he doesn’t like to do it too often, but he does an amazing Stephen A. Smith impersonation, it’s spot on,” said Mike Mahar, line producer on NBA Live 18, in an interview with Game Rant last week. “Just having him actually write it, and also be able to be kind of a pretend Stephen A. Smith, that also helps.”

The team behind NBA Live 18 have put a lot of work into making sure that The One is the most compelling campaign mode the series has ever seen. Not every studio needs a writer that can impersonate Stephen A. Smith, but it certainly seems that this particular writer has found his calling.

NBA Live 18 releases for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on September 15.

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