|EA SPORTS' NBA Live series, which began on the Super NES in 1995, makes its Xbox debut with the release of NBA Live 2002. Key features in the game include 3D polygonal players with details such as knee braces, tattoos, multiple sock lengths, headbands, different shoe styles, and more. In addition to a full lineup of teams and players from 2001 NBA season (including Michael Jordan as a Wizard), a selection of Hall of Fame stars and court legends is also on offer.
Modes of play include Season, Playoffs, Practice, Play Now (Exhibition), 1 on 1, and Franchise. Players can lead their team through ten consecutive seasons in the Franchise mode, where they can set up a custom league, adjust season length, and opt for a random schedule. Trades can be made before the deadline, and the computer may reject offers it deems unfair. Rosters can also be modified, allowing players to draft rookies after reviewing the scouting report, sign free agents, release underperforming athletes, or create their own stars from scratch.
At the end of each season, the game doles out individual awards for MVP, Most Improved, Sixth Man, Defensive Player, and Rookie, as well as team awards for All NBA Team, All Defensive Team, and the All Rookie Team. Older players will eventually retire in Franchise mode, so new talent from the draft will need to be signed to address potential weaknesses. As with previous games in the series, players can save season progress, statistics, roster changes, and user records at any time.
Standard moves on offense include crossover dribbles, spins, stutter steps, fakes, and backing defenders down, while low post moves include fadeaway jumpers, hooks, spins, and the up-and-under. Defensive moves under a player's control include steals, hand checks, jumps to grab rebounds or block shots, calling for a double team, and face ups. Sixteen offensive strategies, such as isolation, post up, and box are available, while up to five defensive strategies can be called during the game.