'NBA 2K19' Devs Loved Lebron James' Reaction to His Player Rating

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When told his NBA avatar ranked 98 on a 99-point scale, James said, "Not bad for an old hag." Courtesy of Visual Concepts
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When told his NBA avatar ranked 98 on a 99-point scale, James said, "Not bad for an old hag." Courtesy of Visual Concepts

What is unique about the way NBA star Steph Curry lofts the basketball from beyond the 3-point line? How, exactly, does LeBron James take off toward the basket for one of his trademark dunks? For the development team at ­Visual Concepts, these aren't idle questions. They're obsessions.

To put together NBA 2K19, the 20th game in the franchise dating back to 1999, Jeff Thomas and his team of designers paid close attention to detail and a technology called scanning. They traveled with NBA athletes during their regular-season games and filmed each person with a custom-made mobile camera rig—a kind of portable photo booth. The rig has 150 different camera lenses that can shoot the players from all angles and capture details such as beards, tattoos and facial expressions. The players were happy to participate in the scanning process, says Thomas, the studio's vice president, because "they realize now that they want to look good in the game."

The developers have also ranked each of the NBA avatars on a 99-point scale based on how the athletes performed over the past season. The ranking determines how well each player shoots, dribbles and dunks in the game. Thomas claims real-life players such as James have taken a passing interest in their avatar's ranking. "When we met with James, we said, 'Congratulations! You're a 98 in 2K,'" says Thomas. "His first reaction was, 'Not bad for an old hag.'"

NBA 2K19 is available now on Xbox One, PS4, Nintendo Switch and PC.

'NBA 2K19' Devs Loved Lebron James' Reaction to His Player Rating