Can’t get enough of basketball?
Join the club!
According to the World Atlas, basketball is the 7th most popular game in the world with an estimated 825 million fans. By comparison, baseball has 500 million fans, and football has a whopping 4 billion.
7th place isn’t so bad, although I still can’t get over the fact table tennis sits at 6th place with 875M.
If you love the game of basketball, you’ve probably played some NBA Live or NBA 2K. These games have been around for ages, and provide an excellent escape for those who want to “play the game” like a pro without having to set foot in the NBA.
However, playing the same game becomes a bit tedious and boring, no matter how good the AI plays you. Basketball video games are better played with your buddies, with all the name-calling and cuss words involved.
With this in mind, a change of pace could be in order, and basketball management games could be your winning play.
Sports Management Games: The Early Days
Sports management video games have been around since the 1980s. Grand Prix Manager came out in ’84, followed by Formula One in ’85. Baseball and football management simulators soon came after that, but basketball was sorely missing. The only thing that came close was fantasy basketball, which came out in the early 1990s.
With Michael Jordan at his peak form during 1993-1998, basketball exploded in popularity.
In 2003, World Basketball Manager came out, followed by Basketball Pro Management, released in 2012. Today, there are several basketball management simulation games available. From simple browser-based games to full-blown downloads with all the bells and whistles, you have a lot of options.
Basketball Management: Becoming a GM
Are you tired of playing basketball video games as a player?
Then it’s time to play the game like Pat Riley or Danny Ainge after their playing careers were over. With basketball management games, you can play as a GM and build your team from the ground up.
Most games will let you:
- Choose your players via the draft or trades.
- Pick your name and jersey design.
- Hire your coaching staff and set training schedules.
- Choose sets, defensive and offensive strategies.
- Build your arena, get sponsors, and TV rights.
- Determine ticket prices for games.
- Watch a play-by-play board like what you see when you follow a game or skip to the end.
This list is only the tip of the iceberg. The best basketball management games go even deeper, complete with all the stats that’ll make hoops nerds happy. A majority of the games feature computer-generated team and player names although some misspell NBA players’ names on purpose.
Available Basketball Management Games for PC You Can Play Right Now
When it comes to basketball management, there are three types of games: free, freemium, and paid games.
Free and freemium games are usually played using a browser. Paid games are available for download either from the publisher’s site or via Steam.
Not all basketball sims are created equal, and some are way better than others. I have a personal aversion to freemium games, regardless of the platform or type. I like to grind and earn my keep, not buy upgrades to make my character stronger. Publishers should charge for their game outright if they want to, rather than pretending it’s free.
Anyway, here are some of the basketball management games I came across during my research. This list is not exhaustive by any means, as there are countless other games out there.
The best game I’ve tried so far is Basketball GM. I love the fact that it’s browser-based (using HTML-5), very detailed, and completely free.
Unlike the other games, you won’t have to sign-up using your email or Facebook account. You can go straight to the action. I’m a Boston Celtics fan, so I chose the Boston Massacre as my team. The last game I played had this box score:
Phoenix Vultures 116, Boston Massacre 102
My team sucks! I won my first game but lost the last three. What’s great about Basketball GM is that you need to make the right decisions for your team to advance. It looks like I have my work cut out for me.
Type: Freemium, Sign-up Required
The game tries, but it has a lot of weird stuff in it. The in-game currency is vitamins, needed to unlock unique options.
Of course, you’d have to buy these vitamins with real money. Your players can also use gear such as steroids (seriously), crutches (for what), and player kits that look like small skirts or shower curtains.
You can upgrade your stadium and get sponsors, but you’re going to need fame points to do so. Win points by beating other teams, which is pretty easy to do:
Fockers 90, COROCOTA_00 15
I beat this team by 75 points if my math is right.
Must be all the steroids!
Type: Freemium, Sign-up Required
The game has an easy to follow tutorial that teaches you how to set up your team. The layout is good, with all the necessary options to manage your team. You earn money through sponsorships. TV Rights get you in-game currency tokens, which you can use on upgrades.
You can also buy tokens using real money if you want to speed up your progress. It was strange that I started with a 6 – 10 win-loss record even though I was playing for the first time.
Type: Paid game, Available on Steam
The game is pretty comprehensive, but has plenty of bugs and is somewhat difficult to understand. The last part may be due to how the game got translated into English. Pro Basketball Manager is promising, but until all the bugs get fixed, it’ll be hard to find people who like playing this game.
There are so many basketball management games out there; we haven’t scratched the surface yet.
Other notable games include BuzzerBeater, World Basketball Manager X, and International Basketball Manager.
If you’re into college hoops, there’s Draft Day Sports: College Basketball 2019.
The point is, you’re never going to run out of basketball management simulators when you get tired or annoyed with the one you’re using.
Choose the one you like the most. It doesn’t matter if it’s free, freemium or paid. Who knows, playing GM might even benefit your management skills in real life!
Have you played basketball management games before? What are your favorites? Please post and share your experiences in the comments section below.