The Shrug. The Double Nickel. And "God disguised as Michael Jordan". The signature moments of the NBA's greatest player ever will be playable in a special challenge coming to NBA 2K11.
Teased a month ago when Jordan was revealed as the game's cover athlete, 2K Sports unveiled "The Jordan Challenge" on Thursday and the full list of 10 moments players will attempt to recreate on their console, with Jordan, his teammates and his opponents spanning TK years of his career.
"We've worked incredibly hard to secure the rights of all these historic players, retired players," 2K Sports' Jason Argent told Kotaku. "All the starting players, we have; we're not absolutely 100 per cent on the bench players, but we will get close. It was quite an undertaking, but really worth it in the end."
The Jordan Challenge is a 10-game, singleplayer-only mode in which players will lace up with Jordan and the Bulls, playing full games, or even playoff series, trying to meet a set of goals within them.
Reaching the milestones - a famous point total, for example - will win the challenge and trigger an in-game animation matching well known highlight footage, such as Jordan shrugging to the camera in seeming disbelief of his own 35-point first half performance against Portland in the 1992 Finals.
"Everyone's got their iconic images of Jordan - the scoring table shrug - and these things happen in the game," Argent said. "There's 10 of these legendary games, and within that it encompasses seven of the famous Chicago Bulls teams. So take the Shrug one, the 1992 Finals versus the Trail Blazers. You have to score 35 points and make six threes in the first half, and then you unlock the animation of The Shrug. It's not just the video, it's the impact of being able to actually play and experience how difficult it was to be Jordan and still pull off these incredible moments."
As players progress through The Jordan Challenge, they'll see Jordan himself change, in both face and physical characteristics. His (and all players') uniforms will be period-specific - not just in design but in cut and style. Presentation also will change to reflect the era; graphics and audio will resemble games in the 1980s, early 1990s or late 1990s.
The game mode is singleplayer only, and players may only play as the Bulls. I asked if additional challenges are being planned as DLC. "We're not quite ready to talk about that yet," Argent said.
For the 2K Sports and Visual Concepts team, it's the culmination of a long-running what-if session that's finally come true. While the design evolved briskly once the publisher reached a deal with Jordan, it still retains the basic structure of what the team had wanted to do for years: Play as Jordan, in famous games with everyone who participated in real life, recreate his one-of-a-kind performances and see the highlights happen within the NBA 2K presentation.
"It's something we've dreamt about and talked about for years," Argent said. "So to see these come to life is one of the most exciting things we've been a part of."
2K Sports insists it has more to reveal regarding Jordan's participation in NBA 2K11 but, naturally, wasn't saying what right now. You're free to imagine what else might be coming down the pipe. I think a Dunk Contest has to be in here somewhere - they already have one in NBA 2K10. As they have the rights to Dominique Wilkins' image, perhaps something involving their epic 1988 showdown, won by Jordan with a perfect-score 50 his final dunk - the famous foul-line slam. That, however, is 100 per cent my speculation.