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10 Things I Loved About the 2011 NBA Playoffs June 14, 2011

Posted by pacejmiller in Basketball, Indiana Pacers, NBA, Sport.
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12 comments

Ahh…it’s finally all over. The Dallas Mavericks just defeated the Miami Heat in 6 games to capture the 2011 NBA Championship in what has been the most enjoyable NBA Playoffs in recent memory. Dirk Nowitzki was named Finals MVP, elevating the big silky German to all-time great status and denying Miami’s much-maligned ‘Big Three’ of Lebron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh a chance at a title in their first year together. Loved it, loved it, loved it.

Here are the 10 things that I thought made these Playoffs one of the best ever.

(to read on, click on ‘more…’)

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Getting Ripped Off By NBA League Pass! December 26, 2010

Posted by pacejmiller in Basketball, Blogging, NBA.
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40 comments

IN SHORT: NBA League Pass automatically renews your membership every time it expires (regardless if it is monthly or yearly) and there is no way to cancel your membership on the website or on your account page (despite what it says in the terms and conditions when you sign up).  The only way to cancel at the time of writing is to send an email to nbaleaguepass@neulion.com (and this email address is nowhere to be found on the website on on your account page).

I just finished watching the LA Lakers getting spanked by the Miami Heat on Christmas Day, courtesy of NBA League Pass.

Don’t get me wrong — I love the League Pass, which allows subscribers to watch every NBA game in HD on their computers for around US$20 a month or US$100 for a season (which doesn’t save much considering the season goes from late October to mid-April) — playoffs cost more.

It uses up a lot of bandwidth, but it’s a dream come true for any NBA fanatic.  If you upgrade to the premium service you can even watch four games at a time and rewind and fast forward at all, and every past game of the season is also catalogued in full or in condensed mode.

However, if you have signed up for it or intend to sign up for it, let me give you a word of warning.  Be very careful, or you’ll get ripped off like I did.

I first signed up to the free trial at the commencement of he 2010-2011 NBA season, and liked it so much that when the free pass expired at the beginning of November I decided to sign up for a month at a discounted rate (around AU$20).  I enjoyed it for a month and forgot about it until the Christmas period, when I decided to give it another go.

To my surprise, my League Pass account was still active, as was my “Monthly” subscription.  It still worked too, which made me realise that the subscription must have automatically rolled over at the end of the month.  Fine, that’s my fault.  I didn’t read the fine print carefully enough when I signed up.  Lots of Internet businesses use the same method (especially under the guise of “free trials” that require your credit card details) to catch less astute consumers off-guard.

Anyway, here is the deal.  When you sign up, at the billing page, you enter your credit card details, etc, and there is a small box containing the ‘Terms of Use’ just before you can click the place the order.

Most people don’t read this stuff.  It’s in a small box, and print is small, and you have to scroll down to read the 5000+ words of terms and conditions.  As I do not live in the States, the terms on my computer were for non-US users.

The relevant provision is this, about a fifth of the way into the terms (I had to dig this up by pretending to be a new subscriber):

Subscriptions and periodic billing: Monthly, Regular Season and Playoffs subscriptions begin when you place your order and will renew automatically at the selected interval (Monthly, Regular Season or Playoffs), until terminated by you as provided in this Agreement.

In other words, if you subscribe, your subscription will be automatically renewed.  I only had to pay an extra month — but it’s the same if you paid for an entire season.  You’ll get automatically billed again if you don’t terminate the subscription.

As it said very clearly a little further down:

ALL SALES ARE FINAL.  We do not give full or partial refunds for subscriptions that you have purchased regardless of the basis for the refund REQUEST.

With a few days left before my monthly subscription automatically renews for a third month, I decided to terminate my subscription.

And here is the problem.  There is no way to do it!

I went into the “My Account” page after logging in and looked around everywhere.  Nothing.  Not a single mention of being able to cancel or terminate the subscription.  Not even in the FAQ, Help or Terms of Use pages (the Terms of Use link was different to what I was presented with when I signed up and did not mention cancellation).  I tried to delete all my Billing Information, but that didn’t work either, not unless I put in another valid credit card.

To add fuel to the fire, there is no email address to contact anyone from NBA League Pass from the “My Account” page or the League Pass front page.  It’s as though they purposely tried to prevent any possible method of cancelling your subscription.

I then pretended I wanted to sign up for a new account and went into the billing page, where I was again presented with the Terms of Use (the one that stipulated the automatic renewal).  These terms do have a termination clause, which states:

YOUR RIGHT TO CANCEL YOUR SUBSCRIPTION

You may elect to cancel your subscription at any time by visiting http://ilp.nba.com/myaccount.  Your election will be deemed to have been received one (1) U.S. business day after you notify Us that you want to cancel your subscription.

Yes, the clause says you may elect to cancel the subscription at any time by visiting the link.  But of course, that link is just to the “My Account” page, which I have already said, contains absolutely no way of cancelling the subscription.  If that is not misleading and deceptive, then I don’t know what is!

Fortunately, I remembered I got an email from NBA League Pass when I first signed up (nbaleaguepass@neulion.com) and I was able to respond to it.  I made it clear that I wanted to cancel and was not happy about my inability to do so.

About seven hours later I got a response that simply said:

Your NBA League Pass subscription has been canceled. Please let us know if you have additional questions.

There you go.  In the meantime, I will continue to use the League Pass until it expires in a few days.

It just amazes me that something like this could happen.  This is the type of tactic you might expect to see from semi-scam sites, but not something as supposedly respectable as the NBA League Pass.  I’m not sure if the problem stems from the fact that I’m a non-US user, but even so, it’s unacceptable.  Not a happy customer.

Has anyone else had a similar problem?

Game Review: NBA 2K11 (PS3) October 21, 2010

Posted by pacejmiller in Basketball, Game Reviews, NBA.
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2 comments

[Note: Almost two weeks after its release, I am finally reviewing NBA 2K11.  I wanted to make sure I played enough of the game to do the review justice.]

There is no competition this year.  Literally.  With NBA Elite 2011 back to the drawing board until further notice, NBA 2K11 has been automatically elevated to the title of the must-have basketball sim of the year.  Not to say that Elite would have been a challenge had it been released.  Anyone who has played the demo knows that.

In a nutshell, NBA 2K11 is the best basketball sim ever released.  It’s not perfect and there is still plenty of room for improvement, but 2K has kept the bar so high over the years that it doesn’t take much improvement to make a new game the ‘best ever’.

This year, the major improvements have been:

  • improved gameplay, in particular better off-the-ball movements, set plays and more fluid ISO-motion plays;
  • improved presentation, with slicker half-time reports, Player of the Game videos and highlights and easier to control menus;
  • upgraded My Player experience, to include the Draft Combine for free, trade requests, endorsements and post-game interviews; and of course
  • the Jordan Mode, which allows gamers to relive 10 of Jordan’s best moments and then the ability to play as him in My Player Mode.

Okay, time for me to review the game elements one by one and give it an overall rating.

(click on ‘more…’ to find out!)

(more…)

NBA 2K11 provides a glimpse of the new Miami Heat September 30, 2010

Posted by pacejmiller in Basketball, Game Reviews, Indiana Pacers, NBA.
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I’ve been following all the NBA 2K11 videos on YouTube in advance of the release on October 5th (October 8th in Australia).

The best of the lot has been from MrOperationSports, one of the few sites that seem to genuinely hold a copy of the real game.  But their latest video, which gives us a glimpse of the new look Miami Heat, is too much for me.  It’s entitled ‘The Conseco Massacre’, and depicts Dwyane Wade and Lebron James having their way with the new look Pacers.  Dunks, threes, spin moves, alley oops, big blocks — the video has it all.  It even has Lebron James trash-talking Danny Granger (probably about his lack of minutes for Team USA), while Brandon Rush stands in the background looking completely stoned.  And you thought basketball games were not realistic!

Here is the vid.

As a Pacers fan, that video was utterly brutal, but I’m not going to pretend there’s no chance of it happening in real life.  But why the Pacers?  Why, oh why?

Anyway, 2K11 is looking really good.  I’m not even a Michael Jordan guy, but this new trailer has my blood pumping.

Can’t wait.  And you can forget about NBA Elite 2011.  I’d be surprised if anyone prefers that game after what we’ve seen from the demo.

Michael Jordan is back in NBA 2K11! August 10, 2010

Posted by pacejmiller in Basketball, Game Reviews, NBA, Sport.
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3 comments

Yes, that’s right — Michael Jordan, the greatest basketball player of all-time, is the new cover athlete for NBA 2K11, set for release on 5 October 2010.

I only just switched to 2K10 last year (having been a lifelong NBA Live fan), and for the 2010-2011 NBA season, it appears 2K will streak waaay ahead of of Live, which has curiously renamed the franchise to “Elite” (yes, the game will be released as NBA Elite 2011).

Apart from having Jordan on the cover of the game, NBA 2K11 will have a new feature called “The Jordan Challenge” where gamers will have the opportunity to relive Jordan’s 10 greatest games and play some of his greatest teams.  That’s all the info that’s out there at the moment.  No one knows if you can say insert Jordan into a present-day roster or use his championship Bulls teams to play in the 2010-2011 season.

Good for 2K from a marketing perspective, but to be honest, I don’t like it.

Yes, Jordan was probably the greatest basketball player of all time (and the most egotistical), and few 5-on-5 basketball games in history have featured his “Airness” because of licensing issues (I’m sure it happened once a few years ago on Live and it was big news) — but let’s stop dwelling on the past people!  Jordan is now 47 years old.  He’s already in the Hall of Fame (inducted last year in a sad, self-congratulatory ceremony).  He last played in the NBA on April 2003 (yes, more than 7 years ago) as a Washington Wizard.  His last meaningful game (for the Chicago Bulls) was in 1998.

I guess it’s nice in a way because people have been deprived of Jordan in video games for so many years.  But what is the deal with this lame “Jordan Challenge” business?  How many times do you want to relive 10 games?  And so what if you accomplish it?  Aren’t video games about creating your own legends rather than reliving old ones?

Don’t get me wrong, I respect Jordan and what he has done for the game, but this type of shameless worshipping and milking of his legend is too over the top for me.  We have a potentially historic NBA season coming up with the formation of several NBA superpowers.  Miami now has Wade, Lebron and Bosh.  The Celtics added Shaq while keeping their Big 3 in tact.  The Lakers still have Kobe, Gasol and Artest.  The NBA has never been more intriguing.  Why not focus on that instead?

That said, the lucrative opportunity of having Jordan on board would have been too much for 2K to pass up.  I would have done the same if I was in their shoes.

My main hope is still for them to add even more to the “My Player” mode to make it an even better feature than it was in its first year.

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