An official license from the NBA was not enough to make up for the game's bizarre promotional cards.
The artwork for Basketball Manager 2019 isn't the worst we've ever seen, but the mobile video game's attempt to capture the likenesses of NBA players failed pretty spectacularly.
Despite having full licensing rights with the NBA, Basketball Manager 2019, now available on the Apple App Store, may have opted to market its product with some unintentionally hilarious representations of players. It must be seen to be believed, as Twitter user jby_23 found out. LeBron James, Jayson Tatum, James Harden and Kevin Durant all look impersonated by random faces.
Made by a company called From the Bench, the game puts players in charge of NBA teams and allows players to choose NBA stars for their rosters and compete with friends. While the app itself has teams and players accurately represented, it appears that older versions of the app did not have an NBA license, which means the game sported classic franchises like the "Houston Pockets" and "Roston Celtios".
Screenshots listed on the App Store seem to imply the game is an extremely poor knockoff:
The app's latest description says:
"Start one of the most exciting basketball season of recent years. And with more equality than ever between the teams. Who will be the champion this year? You? Download this new version now and start fighting for the ring!"
It's hard to imagine this NBA season having more equality than ever, but we don't write the app descriptions.
However, once the app is downloaded, the full NBA license kicks in and the game seems legitimate. The Houston Pockets are once again the Houston Rockets, and players look like real human beings (the only problem the author observed on the app itself is the Knicks' page features Kristaps Porzingis). While prior versions of the game may have had knockoff players, everything has become much more official.
The game looks playable and somewhat fun, even if it is clearly designed to make as much money as possible off microtransactions. The app holds a 4.7 rating on the App Store with 9,311 responses, as of writing.
It also appears a user called "lifelongnbamanager" struggled with a sudden decline in Kevin Love's basketball ability in the 2018-19 offseason.
Could this be Koby Altman's Basketball Manager 2019 burner account? The world may never know.