Not every NBA player can make the transition into acting. They don't all have tour de force performances inside of them, as Michael Jordan did when he left us in emotional tatters on sticky cinema floors with his acclaimed performance as himself in Space Jam. Some guys are just basketball players. That's why I love NBA 2K15's MyCareer mode. It gave (mostly) non-superstar NBA players the opportunity to show off their acting chops and make a little of that sweet ancillary money the Kobes and LeBrons of the league usually hoard for themselves.
MyCareer is a sports game's attempt at a story mode. It lets players create their own character and then take them through the early years of their career, with little moments of story sprinkled throughout. Every team has a designated Mentor -- a real NBA player who advises the main character in the game's piss-poor attempt at simulating the life of an NBA rookie. 2K Sports decided to up the realism by letting NBA players do their own voice acting. So no matter which team you're on you have a real-life NBA player as your Mentor. Immersive, right? It's almost like you're there looking at all that swinging locker-room dick with your own eyes.
The whole thing falls apart once put into practice. It's not that the players lack charisma; it's that there's only dust and a dead spider where their souls should be. It's not that they don't know how to read lines; it's that they're still groggy after waking up in a recording booth tied to a chair surrounded by audio technicians wearing masks from the Purge movies. The quality is bad across the board, with only a couple of players delivering passable performances. Kevin Durant gives one of the best performances of the game, which you will soon find out is not much of a compliment.
Durant has an unfair advantage over the rest of the Mentor roster. He's starred in commercials and was the lead in a children's movie that has 10 reviews on Rotten Tomatoes. Only two of them are positive, and the only thing their blurbs mention is the movie's message about how kids should develop a good work ethic instead of hoping to get good at basketball by absorbing Kevin Durant's skills through magical transference.
"BURIED in student loans? DROWNING in debt? Need money NOW? WAIT NO MORE!
Write a body-switching comedy and make millions TODAY!"
Going through each of the bad performances would be way too time-consuming, so I'm taking a different approach. I'm going to create a starting five of NBA 2K15's worst Mentor performances. This will not be an easy task. There's going to be some heated competition for these roster spots as there are many players at each position that are really bad at pretending to be themselves.
Seven-foot-tall, 300-pound behemoths tend to sound like they're barfing demons when they speak. Yet, Shaquille O'Neal has been a multimedia star for years even though his voice is the musical tone used to communicate with aliens at the end of Close Encounters Of The Third Kind.
It wouldn't be at all surprising if leaked behind-the-scenes footage revealed DeMarcus Cousins was reading lines as his eyes darted between the script and a set of jingling keys or maybe a good looking sandwich. He sounds as uninterested in pretending to be on the Sacramento Kings as he is in being an actual member of the Sacramento Kings. Here he is exchanging smack-talk with the created player mere seconds before the tranquilizer dart in his neck dropped him to the floor.
There's a recurring theme in these voiceovers: There were no second takes. Every stutter and pause by an NBA player trying to read dialogue written by an AI that was fed a spambot's word vomit made it into the final cut of the game. That isn't the only reason Charlotte Hornets center Al Jefferson sounds like a child in a movie reading a letter out loud as he writes it, but it doesn't help.
Finally, here's former Indiana Pacer Roy Hibbert executing an elaborate ruse to splash the created player with water. Hibbert picked up this fun goof from his remedial prank class in which he got a D+. This dumb scene plays out regardless of which Mentor you're stuck with but is especially appropriate for Hibbert's voice work. He comes off like a guy whose idea of an awesome prank is farting and blaming you.
Who Makes The Starting 5?
His performance as a basketball player who has just undergone shock therapy is the stuff of legend. But he truly made the cut when he made the bold choice to be the vocal equivalent of the Uncanny Valley.
I can lie to you and build a lot of false drama by saying the battle for the power forward position is a close race. But I won't. Sure, Thaddeus Young recites dialogue like a prankster added a comma after every third word in his script and changed all the stage direction to "Now laugh like human laugh for no reason ha ha."
It's not even close despite the fact that Al Horford is reading the same dialogue as every other player but makes it sound like he used Google translate to convert it to Japanese and then converted that to wingdings:
And let's put aside the performance of Channing Frye, whose voice work is actually decent but whose name annoys me because you only have to say it once to get the same effect as when you say a word a dozen times in a row to make it sound like gibberish.
None make the cut. All worthy, but they never stood a chance against ...
Who Makes The Starting 5?
I commend Markieff Morris for choosing to portray himself as a freakish moose just learning to flap its tongue in a way that produces something like human speech but decidedly more grotesque. Some may argue he was trying to see how long before anyone noticed he was doing an impression of a man with five muffins in his mouth and then no one noticed. Others believe he completed his entire recording session within the span of a single yawn. But I know the truth. I know he was being a moose trying to speak in open defiance of natural law.
The battle for point guard is tight, but for all the wrong reasons. None of the point guards are funny-bad. They're just bad. It's like the difference between The Room and Gigli. The Room is a movie filled with bad choices that worked in their own mystical shitty way. Its relentless determination to never stop failing upwards is inspiring. Gigli, the infamously bad Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez movie, is just bad.
All that's to say we're going to have a glaring weak spot in our starting five. I mean, what am I supposed to do with dull bullshit like Brandon Knight's vocal work? This performance would work better as an unboxing video for a book of stamps.
Players can choose from an extensive list of two voices for the character they create. One voice actor gave an enthusiastic and energetic performance (you can hear it in the DeMarcus Cousins video above), while the other I'm sure got a few people fired. It's aural NyQuil. Meanwhile, Utah Jazz point guard Trey Burke gives a performance as ostentatious as a beige wall. Put them in the same scene and it's a "Dueling Banjos" of boring.
The only thing saving Mike Conley's performance is that regardless of the Mentor in this particular scene it always ends with the character model's lips refusing to move as they keeps talking, making it seem like Conley's face got bored by the sound it was making.
Who Makes The Starting 5?
At least his face knows when to shut up even when his vocal chords don't.