The Disgruntled Life Of A GM: An Ongoing NBA 2K18 Adventure
Update: My continuing journey as the world's worst GM continues on page three. If you already read my first two posts, scroll to the bottom of the page and click the "3" to see what happens next...
Here's something you haven't heard before: I played NBA 2K14 for the story. Seriously. I'll even double down on my ludicrous statement by saying it offered more twists and turns than Mass Effect. If memory serves me correctly, my ball hog of a player was traded four times in a season. He didn't play defense. He refused to pass the ball. He fired his best friend as his agent. He picked fights during practice. He wore a tiger-skin suit. He talked trash in all of his post-game press conferences. Fans voiced their displeasure in his playing style on Twitter. He lost most of the games he played in because he didn't care.
I absolutely adored watching his career unfold. If you want to witness one of video games' craziest stories, check out my blog that chronicles his antics, or pick up NBA 2K14 for cheap, and select the evil option whenever possible. When NBA 2K15 rolled around, I was counting the days until I had the chance to create another miserable human being, but I was told that the game didn't have the same type of good or evil choices, and the story didn't hit as hard. The same sentiments were echoed for NBA 2K16 and 17. I figured this year's iteration of the game would again refrain from making a player look like an absolute monster, and I was right...kind of. NBA 2K18's MyPlayer mode may not offer a wide variety of player-driven choices, but narrative intrigue supposedly resides in the game's new MyGM mode.
Thus begins a chronicle of money squandering and unnecessary firings. With Andrew Reiner standing in as the new general manager of the Minnesota Timberwolves, chaos will hopefully ensue. This is his journey:
After creating a strange facial hair-free version of Andrew Reiner (in the Nintendo Switch version), I learn of my first target: Eddie Chase, the owner of the Minnesota Timberwolves. His bio makes him sound like a real pushover: “Mr. Chase is known to be a patient individual who does not have any strong feelings or needs one way or the other. He doesn’t require much of a profit nor does he expect a perennial winner. It’s widely understood that the Timberwolves position is a great entry-level position for would-be GMs.”
He doesn't need a perennial winner or profit. I will make sure he gets neither of these things.
Six Years Ago
The game then flashes back to show Reiner as a player for the Dallas Mavericks. He isn't on the floor dunking over fools, however; he's lying down on a medical table, holding his right knee.
“My knee – I can’t bend it. Something is... not right here. I’ve never felt this... this level of pain,” Reiner says.
The team trainer says an MRI is coming back soon, and that I should try to relax. Reiner has no idea how this could happen to him – during the playoffs of all times. As he writhes in pain, he brags about scoring 30 points in the game. The trainer corrects him and says he actually scored 36 points. Reiner once again sounds like a ball hog, and I had no control over it. Wonderful!
A doctor enters the room and tells me I suffered a full tear of the anterior cruciate ligament, as well as partial tears of the posterior cruciate ligament and collateral cruciate ligament. Doc says it's unusual to have tears to these ligaments in the same knee, simultaneously. The collateral cruciate ligament damage is usually only seen after a direct blow to the inside of the knee. Weird. I'd love to see the play that destroyed my knee to this degree.
Back to the Present
After learning that my playing career ended at that moment, I now see I am a snazzily dressed guy, with an expensive suit and what appears to be an iPhone 6. I'm on the phone with Eddie Chase. I tell him I am running late for our meeting – a great start for a GM who is ultimately here to destroy the Timberwolves' organization from the inside. This is my first day on the job. I just have to make sure I am on location for a scheduled press conference at 2 p.m. to introduce me as the new face of the team.
When I arrive at the Timberwolves' headquarters, Karl-Anthony Towns approaches me in the parking lot. He is quick to compliment my skills as a basketball player, and is eager to work with me. He's kissing up. He will definitely get a raise.
Another figure then emerges from the shadows. It's coach Tom Thibodeau, and he looks like a real a-hole. I am totally going to fire him today. Just as this plan formulates in my mind, he asks me about staffing, and I am quick to say that I haven't thought about it yet. I counter by saying we are just in the get-to-know each other phase right now. He's totally fired. I hate him.
Towns then makes a critical error: He sucks up to coach and says that he's here for the players. I may have to trade Towns today. They are disgusting together. I can't have this kind of camaraderie on my team. A question jumps into my mind: Why are they in the parking lot together? I'm convinced they are into hardcore drugs. They both have to go.
I'm called into Chase's office to talk about my job. He tries to talk to me about world-famous chai latte spice scones, but uses this moment to brag about making an app or something dumb.
We eventually get around to talking about basketball, and he makes the mistake of bringing up the game that ended my career. He then says "You don't lose. I don't lose. The fans here, they are hungry for success. The media, they are hungry for success. Every Timberwolves fan wants to read one of their columns about how great the team is. When the wins stop coming, the media starts looking for cracks. Cracks that they can exploit for stories. For clicks, whatever it is they strive for." Did he almost call media fake news? Regardless of what they hell he is saying here, he is going to lose big by making me GM, and the media will find cracks everywhere, hopefully within days.
He tells me to be honest and open to the media, encouraging me to say what is on my mind. I plan on it. I want this chai latte jerk to know he made a mistake in hiring me, as he's introducing me to the world. That would be delicious.
The Press Conference
A reporter asks me what my plans are out of the gate. My choices are "total rebuild," "minor tweaks needed," and "I love where we are at." My gut says to go with total rebuild, as the Timberwolves are clearly a playoff team on the hunt this year, and this action should make Mr. Chase swallow hard. I could also lie and say that I like how things look, but I have a feeling the game won't read this as a fib. I select "total rebuild."
I say not everyone will see it this way, but "I'm looking at this as a situation where we have to strip down the roster, pare it down to a core number of guys, then build it back up. From scratch, basically." They are probably thinking I keep Towns. Nope. He's the first to go when I get the power.
I tell the press we have a nice plan in place for getting the team where it needs to go, starting with the draft. "You can't swing and miss there if you're trying to build from the ground up." I plan on selecting the slowest and least-talented player possible. He will make the most money in the league too.
I also detail plans for free agency; another well of despair that I will soon inflict upon this fan base.
When asked for the coach, I try to make out a smile, but this action makes me look like a demon. Perfect. The loser is sitting right next to me.
I'm given the options of "Confident in Head Coach," "Need time to evaluate," and "It's time to move on." You know what I selected. I'm disappointed with how I let this information out there. "First of all, I just want to say that I have nothing but respect for Tom Thibodeau. He's a good coach and a good man. But at this time I feel it's in the best interest of the franchise to go in a different direction. You'll be hearing more about that as the process moves along, but right now that's all I have to say about it." At least I dropped a bomb on him. He didn't see it coming.
The Next Day
Thibodeau is becoming unhinged. He enters my office and drops the lamest insult possible: "Get a grip!" Whatever, man.
He then says something surprising, almost reading like a threat. "One day you'll wake up and it'll be just like any other day. You'll go about your business. Maybe have a nice dinner with your wife. Then out of nowhere you're going to be broadsided just like I was. BOOM. Just like that. And it'll be you out on the street. It'll be you looking like an idiot." I'm impressed with the anger he is showing, and debate keeping him on as a "Sith Lord in training" for a brief second, but his dumb face is just too dumb for me to look at any longer. I'm hoping I can call security.
I didn't have to. He leaves, and in enters Ed Pinckney, the assistant coach. He tells me he understands my desire for fresh blood, but says he's been with the organization for a long time. "I know the maniacs who jump around shooting t-shirts into the crowd. I know their names. I know their families' names. I know their birthdays and what kind of peanut butter they like. I know their comfort zones, I know their fears, and I know exactly what buttons to push." Whoa. This guy is nuts.
He says he's paid his dues, but I couldn't care less. See you, Ed. Don't let the door hit you on the ass on the way out.
I insult him in saying I need someone who has done it longer. He says he was hoping to become the head coach of the Timberwolves today. My firing of him has to come as a huge blow. Excellent.
I am then called into Chase's office. He says he trusts me, but is already concerned with my actions. "This change comes as a bit of a surprise," he adds. "I haven't liked surprises for a long time, Andrew. A long time."
Dude is clearly not liking me right now. I will have to waste his money quickly, as I fear my time here won't last long. He then drifts off into his childhood for some reason, and paints himself as a real mess of a person in the process.
I have no idea what he was just trying to communicate other than establish I would never want to have him as a friend or family member. He continues to ramble. "Nothing to be done now, of course. That's all in the past. But let's make sure we take full advantage of this opportunity. We call it a pivot in the business world. You start off one way, but that way doesn't work, so you try something else. You figure out what advantage you've got and you pivot. Then you milk every last drop out of that advantage. You wring that bad boy out till it's bone dry."
Holy crap, I hate this man. I hate how he talks, thinks, and looks. I inform him I have a specific coach in mind (which I don't). I then see a screen that looks like a mess of work. A mess I will half-ass my way through.
I have no idea what I'm doing, and that's okay. My first order of business is to rework my team's schedule as best I can. I remove every single practice from the season schedule and replace them with rest days. Tons of rest days for everyone. This should lead to a lack of chemistry on the floor – a crippling blow to the team.
I also find the staff page and immediately begin firing everyone...harshly!
I tell my CFO that "I'm pretty sure my cat could've done a better job than you! Pack up your things and get outta here!" Bwahahaha! Told him! This action lowered my team morale by one point, and my trust with Nicolas Brown (who I just fired) by 56 points.
I then fire my assistant manager saying "You have been the worst sidekick in the history of sidekicks. You make the Scarecrow look like a superhero." Whoa. A Batman reference! Love it! This firing not only lowered my team morale by five points, it also delivered one of the worst comebacks ever.
My joy may turn to dust in my mouth. That's your response? Really? Since I don't have a head coach or an assistant coach, I just have the head scout and trainer to fire. I'm somewhat civil with the head scout, telling him "We're changing things around here and you're not a part of our plans going forward. So, if you could just go ahead and pack up your stuff and get out, that would be terrific. Okay?" He responds brilliantly.
"Excuse me, I believe you have my stapler."
I should have kept him. The team didn't seem to care that much for him, however, with just one point in morale dropping. I tell the trainer "You've been canned like spam!" I regret that one, folks. My A.I.-driven dude has been pretty cool up to this line, but I can't back that one up. The trainer rightfully threatens me.
Losing him results in another huge drop of five morale with the team. I now have no staff around me. We are free-falling and the season hasn't even started. The game alerts me of the openings with a notice of "If you choose to automatically fill all vacancies, they will be filled by minimum wage coaches. Remember that the few least skilled staff free agents will always sign with you, independent of contract length and wage."
"Minimum wage coaches" is music to my ears. Why not, right? I could always fire them if they start putting something meaningful together.
Click the second page to see what happens next...
My new staff of "minimum wage coaches" is a ragtag bunch of people with D or F ratings. Of these new hires, no one has a trust level above 52. They clearly already hate me. My new head coach, Landon Hamilton, is getting paid $1.5 million for this season, and hilariously has an F rating in offense, defense, AND potential. He's a real turd of a coach.
The Most Expensive Game in Town
Figuring out how to do everything in this game is a bit challenging, as no tutorials or button prompts are outlined. Before my team was able to play a game, I did manage to infiltrate the Timberwolves' business operations, raising single ticket prices from $37 to $175, and parking from $15 to $50. I can't wait to see how many people are in the stands for this first game. Team hats were already an inflated $24, but will now sell for $40. Souvenirs and concessions are also raised to the max prices. While it'll cost you $10 to get a hot dog and $15 for a plate of nachos, I ran out of price change attempts (you get 10 out of the gate). That means coffee is a reasonable $2. I was able to raise the price on everything else.
Trading Away The Future
Dismantling the roster is the next order of business. That suck up, Karl-Anthony Towns, is the first to go. I offer him and two unprotected draft picks to the Atlanta Hawks for Quinn Cook. I like the looks of Cook because he's only rated 69 and he's super short. My goal is to make the team as small as possible, hopefully consisting of players standing in at just 6'1" or 6'2". The Hawks are overjoyed with my trade and accept it immediately. All of this activity and no one from the front office has contacted me yet. Awesome!
Moving players is proving to be incredibly difficult, as most teams don't have the salary cap space to bring in up-and-coming superstars. I manage to move Jimmy Butler and two more unprotected draft picks for Raul Neto and Ricky Rubio of the Utah Jazz. I'm guessing Timberwolves fans will hate seeing their future get traded for Ricky Rubio, who was supposed to be this team's future for years on end. He didn't get the job done, and he certainly won't be moving the needle now. Rubio will be a painful reminder of just how terrible this team has been, and hardcore fans are going to have to empty their savings to watch this disaster unfold.
I then flip Andrew Wiggins for Joseph Young of the Indiana Pacers, and Shabazz Muhammad for Shane Larkin of the Boston Celtics. Larkin stands in at just 5'11"! I also managed to swap Jamal Crawford for Sacramento Kings' Frank Mason, who stands in at 6'0", and my 7-footer Taj Gibson for the Philadelphia 76ers' little Jerryd Bayless. I couldn't find a suitor for Cole Aldrich, so I released him to free agency, but still had to pay his contract. Sounds like a deal to me!
After wheeling and dealing with half of the teams in the league, I manged to make Rubio the tallest player on my team at 6'4". He's my center now.
Finally someone in a suit approached me on my roster shenanigans. My new assistant GM, Mason Brownstein (more like Brownstain) asked if I wanted him to shuffle the bench or have him do it. In this moment, I realize every player on my payroll is a point guard. What a wonderful mess. If this team wins one game, just one game, I would be shocked.
Somehow in all of this mess, team morale goes up one point. It's now time for the first game of the season against the San Antonio Spurs. This is a tough game for any team, but for the new-look Timberwolves, which is ranked last in every category, it's going to be a blood bath. I decide to watch the game in its entirety. Will there be anyone in the stands for the season opener? Will the Timberwolves lose by 100? Let's find out.
First Game of the Season
NBA 2K18 won't let you watch the game play out in real time for some reason, but I am able to watch the simulation in real time. The Spurs jump out to a quick 4-0 lead, but then something strange happens. My Timberwolves start hitting three pointers. They are somehow in this game. I see they are terrible at rebounding, which is killing them, but the offense is clicking from the perimeter. I don't know how to "fix" this troubling issue.
At halftime, the Timberwolves are only down 6 points, trailing 35 to 29. They get within three points at the outset of the half. I'm shocked. Did I inadvertently create a new mold for success in the NBA? Am I going to look like a genius when I am in fact trying to destroy an NBA institution? This is fascinating, but also exactly what I didn't want. Also, what does it say of NBA 2K18's simulations?
At the end of the third quarter, the Wolves trail by just four. The fourth quarter begins the way I thought the entire game would go. The Spurs put on a clinic inside the paint, hitting every shot. The Wolves quickly find themselves down by 11, and the lead grows to a blowout. The Wolves fall to the Spurs with a score of 63 to 44. Jeff Teague led the scoring with 12 points in 13 minutes of play time. An impressive effort, but still a loser.
The Next Day
I find myself in a press conference. Mack Herman of the Daily Times kicks it off with a puzzling question. "There's been some confusion over whether Tom Thibodeau resigned or was fired. Could you shed some light on that for us?" I thought I would come out and say he was fired, but I end up lying for whatever reason.
"Tom resigned," I say. "It was his choice."
The press lays into me, saying my initial press conference may have had something to do with him leaving. I did after all say he had no future here. I avoid answer the question and try to butter up the press.
"I think you all know that I want to have a good relationship with you guys. It's important to me. I want to have a good, open, honest relationship with the fans and in many ways that starts with how I deal with all of you, much as it pains me to say. So, yeah, for the sake of honesty I'll say that it did have an effect. Coach wanted to talk to me after he heard what I had to say and – like I said, I'm nothing but honest – so I had an honest conversation with him and told him what I was thinking."
No one in the press asked why the entire team is filled with point guards. Even ownership seems to be okay with what is going on.
The Second Game
The first sign of panic comes the next day, with the Timberwolves set to face the Utah Jazz. The head coach says that this is a big game, and we should change up the roster to give the team a better shot at winning. I coldly say it won't change at all.
The team's operations are now $12 million in the hole, and I expect that number will leap when we start playing home games. I can't wait to see what kind of losses we bring in.
The game against the Jazz starts out on a great note. The Wolves can't hit anything. They look completely helpless on the floor. Although I am just viewing the simulation, I do see the arena in the background is barely filled. Minnesota is not up for paying big bucks to see a crap team. The owner surely will have to say something after this game, right?
The Wolves manage just six meager points in the first quarter, but find a little life midway through the second, and inch within five points. I have a feeling they are going to win a few games this season. Perhaps against the Hawks or Magic. At the half, the Wolves trail the Jazz 29-21.
The bench appears to be a the killer for this team. Any time players are swapped out, the opponent runs away with the game. Although the Wolves once again made it exciting at halftime, this game ended as poorly as the first, with a 57-39 shellacking.
Following the game, a staff member enters my office with the idea of running a promotion to get more people in the stands. As much as I like the idea of the $1 million dollar shot contest, which we would have to pay for, I don't want people thinking anything cool happens in our arena. I turn down the promotion outright. "I don't think we have it in our budget to run a promotion at this time. Thanks for the idea though."
That staff member's trust in me plummets by five as he walks out the door.
The Next Week
The Timberwolves lose their next three games, only by nine points in one contest. The writing is on the wall that this team is going nowhere fast. I then see a bombshell tweet from Kristen Ledow.
Did I already kill the team? Why did no one tell me the team was for sale? Am I going to get fired?
Two days have passed since the bombshell tweet was fired off by Kristen Ledlow, and I still don't know what is going on with the organization. My trainer, Jesse Perkinson, enters my office to tell me that Joseph Young has come down with an ankle injury. He wants to know what we should do. I tell him to tell Young to suck it up and play through the injury. Perkinson warns me that we run the risk of aggravating the injury and making it worse. I lose morale with Young, but I don't care. Am I getting fired? That's the big concern right now.
A Surprise Press Conference
I find myself surrounded by press. They are trying to figure out if the rumor of the team being up for sale has any truth behind it. One reporter has clearly done his research: "Andrew, hi. A report in The Daily Observer yesterday states that Mr. Chase has put up a huge amount of money to keep his fledgling app development company afloat after a umber of high-profile failures. First there was DroneR, the drone delivery service that sends you drones via other drones. Then there was Porkify, a subscription-based app that tells you how far away you are from the nearest pulled pork sandwich. I'll stop there, but you get the idea. These well-known business failures would seem to, you know, lend some credence to the rumors that, uh, that Mr. Chase is looking to sell the team. Clearly, you know, he could use some cash. Care to comment on those rumors, Andrew?"
The amount of stupid that just entered my ears is hard to process at first. Chase is a grade A dips---. My evil scheme to bankrupt him now looks like I'm doing the world a huge favor. This man shouldn't have any money.
A give the reporter a "no comment," and leave the presser. I didn't have many options to work with here, but I think I ended up looking like a bad ass that is disgusted by my boss. This couldn't have gone any better.
After posting an 0-6 record to start the season, the Timberwolves somehow squeaked out a win against the Miami Heat. The Wolves won 89-86, and were backed by 24 points by Devin Harris. There's only one solution to this...
Best of luck, Harris. You totally screwed me over. On the plus side, even with far less in player payroll, our projected expenses are -$107,077,656, with just $99,027,136 coming back to us. We somehow haven't made a dollar at the gate or in concessions. Merchandise has pulled in roughly $300,000. Even without Harris putting on a shooting clinic, the Timberwolves win another game, this time against the Dallas Mavericks. I can't make this team bad enough, apparently. Bad GMing is hard.
Face-to-Face with Eddie Chase
I finally get some face time with Mr. Bad Idea, and he asks me if I've had coffee yet. I don't want to respond, for fear of him diving into another cringe-worthy childhood memory or dumb app idea, but I also want to know what is going on with the team. I say "I'm okay, I–" and then he cuts me off.
"You sure? Just got a new espresso machine put in," he says. "Top of the line. Made in Italy. Set me back twenty grand. And Viv out there really knows what she's doing. I think they call it 'pulling a shot.' You want her to pull you a shot? How about a cappuccino? Or are you more of an Americano man? Whatever you want, she'll make it?"
What in the f--- is this guy pitching here? Is he actually talking about coffee? I absolutely hate this guy. I don't respond to him, yet he orders Viv to get me an Americano. Ugh.
I finally but in and say "What'd you want to see me about?"
He fires off the basketball equivalent of a curve ball. "Alright, here's the deal," he says. "I want you to do whatever you can to bring in vince Carter. We need to do something to boost our value. I feel like we're stagnant, and this is a business. You can't be stagnant. If you're stagnant, you die. We need to grow. Growth in the name of the game. Grow grow grow. You follow?"
I try to tell him it won't be easy getting Carter here, but he doesn't care "Great, so it's done," the fool says.
I then ask if this has to do with his failures in the tech world. He lies through his teeth and says that he just wants to win games. Has he not been paying attention to the standings? We have two wins when we should have none. The team is doing just fine with the lowest payroll in the league.
I take my anger out on the coaching staff. They organized a meeting to emphasize team chemistry, and I decided to reprimand them. "This is a big disappointment, and you and the rest of the coaching staff should take a long hard look at the system you have in place," I yell. "You need to find a way to turn this around without sacrificing anything on the court. I expect results here, and soon.
In reality, the work they've done up to this point is a miracle, like turning convincing people that a poop sandwich is actually a savory BLT. My trust with head coach Hamilton falls by three, but my harsh words resonated well with the players. Morale jumps by a staggering 10 points. What? Do they hate this coach as much as I do?
That's it for the GM's journey this week, folks. Come back Monday morning for another chapter of trying to destroy the Timberwolves' organization from the inside...