When 2K Sports announced “NBA 2K13” would include the Dream Team without Scottie Pippen, both sides received plenty of backlash.
2K heard it from its customers and concerned basketball fans, who believed a matchup between the Dream Team and the 2012 U.S. team wouldn’t be complete without Pippen, the Dream Team’s best defender.
Pippen heard it from his fans, his wife, and perhaps his most influential critics, his children, who were wondering why their dad wouldn’t be on the Dream Team’s first video game depiction in two decades. Kids don’t easily accept the justification that Pippen couldn’t agree to individual financial terms with 2K Sports after leaving the NBA’s retired players association earlier this year.
So Pippen came back to 2K Sports this week and accepted the deal the two sides originally discussed, thus giving the Dream Team its best wing defender in the hypothetical matchup against LeBron James, Kevin Durant and the 2012 squad.
ESPN Playbook spoke with Jason Argent, 2K Sports’ head of marketing, about how it went down.
ESPN Playbook: What was the holdup in the original discussions?
Jason Argent: We engaged Scotty in the discussion and were disappointed a bit, but we decided amicably that we just couldn’t get the deal done, so we decided to move on without Scottie. It turns out the fans and consumers were overwhelmingly in support of him being in the game, more so than we were or Scottie maybe even thought. He came back to us after that. He didn’t realize that magnitude of him not being on the team and said he really wanted to be involved.
Was there a part of you that was uncomfortable announcing the team without Pippen?
I’d be lying if I told you I wasn’t. As I’ve said before, Scottie is as important to the team as any individual. The more important thing was being able to represent the whole team. We were proud of what we were going to deliver, but it wasn’t complete without Scottie.
How much did fan backlash contribute to this agreement?
We heard a lot of it. We obviously wanted him in the game right from the get-go, but we wanted to make sure we brought the Dream Team to the fans and to the game. We were obviously willing to do that without Scottie being included. You know with us, and how we are, we listen so intently to the fans. It was not a perfect scenario.
Did you guys meet in the middle or did Pippen come back to your original proposal?
He came back to our original discussion and original proposal.