Any trip to the Park in NBA 2K22 to hoop with and against other people online brings with it the tantalizing possibility that you’ll find a couple of good teammates and quickly develop the kind of chemistry that will propel you to an impressive winning streak. For a lot of solo players like myself though, the reality is far different than the vision of basketball utopia they might have in mind when they decide to spend some time there.
The truth of the matter is that participating in Park games means accepting that you’re bound to experience some extremely frustrating moments. Some of these will likely occur because of the poor performance of you or a teammate, but others will arise as a result of Park basketball having its own set of idiosyncrasies that are hard to rationalize at times. Unlike the (slightly) more realistic action in the Rec, the Park’s arcade style can be both baffling and infuriating in equal measure in the way that success or failure can hinge on overpowered badges and insane animations.
Biggest NBA 2K22 Park Gripes
Throughout the course of a day in the Park, there are any number of things that can occur to finally break your will and have you ditching Park life in The City or Neighborhood for somewhere — literally anywhere — else to ball instead. With NBA 2K23 SZN upon us, here are just a handful of some of the more egregious issues I hope are not so prominent when the next 2K comes out.
The late great Tom Petty hit the nail on the head: the waiting is the hardest part. There are a few reasons that NBA 2K22 introduced the No Squads Old Gym, but a big one is that finding a game within any Park can take so long and be such an annoyance that it’s liable to eventually make you quit playing the game. Parks can be especially inhospitable environments for solo players who might have to spend 20-30 minutes trying to find an empty spot on a court and waiting for teammates to join. If you happen to have a player with a low overall, you can expect to have the wait time increase exponentially as you watch all of the high-90s overall players look you up and down and then avoid you like the plague.
Another big reason why the Old Gym exists is that the Park can seem mighty intimidating and discouraging when the only court available to play on is one that sees you and a couple of randoms facing some power trio currently riding a 9-game winning streak. In this basketball equivalent of David versus Goliath, you’re armed not with a sling and a rock but with a 72-overall point guard with a handful of badges — and all he’s throwing up is brick after brick.
These scenarios might seem tailor-made for the kind of heartwarming story where the plucky underdog manages to overcome the stacked odds to claim an unlikely victory, but they rarely end with anything even close to inspiring. It’s far more likely to be over in what feels like an instant when one teammate quits early because others refuse to pass the ball, and the other team drops seven straight 3-pointers to blank your sorry excuse for a squad to the tune of 21-0.
How far ahead of a defender do you have to be in an NBA 2K22 Park in order to feel safe about being able to slam down a dunk? The answer is that you can never, ever feel safe. Even if you are under your opponent’s basket with the ball and your closest defender is at half-court, there’s still no way to be certain that he won’t somehow be able close the gap in a hurry to make a miracle denial.
The slow dunk animations when an opposing player is trailing you by a few steps can have you feeling like you’re in a horror movie where you can’t close the door fast enough to escape the rampaging killer. It may also be that the impact from an equipped defending badge can seem like magic or mind control, unbelievably altering time and space to ensure they can get there to prevent the ball from getting through the hoop one way or another.
A close cousin of the superhuman chasedown block is the extraordinary recovery block that allows a defender to avoid suffering any consequences for going up for the block attempt at the wrong time. It can really grind the gears when you manage to get someone in the paint to bite on a pump fake by having them jump high in the air, only to have them land and then immediately leap again for a rejection in the amount of time it takes you to put in an easy layup.
Aside from the fact that it would appear to violate what the human body is capable of doing, this kind of heavy badge influence also gives players free reign to mash that block button without fear of the repercussions that they would face on a real court. When you have an especially bad recovery block happen against you where you’ve done everything right to get a bucket and still come up empty, all you can do is laugh sometimes (or rage quit) when you really want to cry.
It’s one thing when your defense breaks down in a Park game and you leave someone wide open behind the arc, but so many shooters seem to be capable of draining threes under far more difficult circumstances. Whether you have a hand or two (or even three) in their face, it’s genuinely impressive how they have no problem putting up greens as if you weren’t mere inches away from them.
This becomes a little unfathomable though when you come up against someone who’s able to make a habit out of draining fall-away threes every time down the court that are virtually impossible to combat. This could be a case of the right maxed badges or supreme stick skills or some combination of the two, but it can make for the kind of game that raises the blood pressure enough to warrant a break.
A scourge upon the Park community for nearly as long as parks have been in existence, dribble gods insist on relying upon the most boring play style imaginable to generate offense. This consists mostly of spamming dribble moves left and right in isolation and then sprinting to the hoop the moment you feel like you can take advantage of a defender overreacting one direction or another.
It’s an especially effective tactic because NBA 2K22 still has that instant of input lag in online games that makes it hard for any defender to anticipate which way a dribble god will end up going. A common variation on this is using a big (or two) to set a pick so a dribble god can veer behind it over and over again until they have created enough space to jack up an uncontested three.
Every responsible Park player knows that when a shot goes up from your opponent, it’s imperative that you get good position on your matchup and box them out from grabbing the rebound should there be one. The problem is that there are too many times where it doesn’t really matter whether you do everything correctly while battling under the hoop because an opposing player will somehow go right through you to get to the ball.
While it’s conceivable that superior rebounders who are larger than you might be able to worm their way around the paint enough to grab a rebound that takes a funny bounce off the rim, they shouldn’t be able to routinely teleport through your body to get the ball. If you use sound fundamentals to ensure that you’ve boxed someone out perfectly, then it stands to reason that you should be rewarded for your efforts when the ball inevitably goes up for grabs following a missed shot.
While there are still fouls called within the confines of the Park, these do little to deter people from spamming the steal button regularly whenever someone with the ball is within range. For these folks, it’s clearly a numbers game and they’re content to take a few fouls as long as it means slapping the ball loose every once in a while and grabbing it to go the other way.
It doesn’t exactly make for a fun game when you can’t even get the ball for a moment without either being fouled or turning it over to the other team while screaming “hang on to the ball!” to your avatar because you may know what’s coming, but he clearly does not. It won’t take too many of these experiences (maybe just one, in fact) before you’ve had enough of being hacked at clumsily by a defender each time down the floor and are ready to declare your 2K session over.