Giannis Antetokounmpo and Montrezl Harrell in NBA 2K21

Image Credit: NBA 2K

“You are telling me that he’s not tired yet?” How many times have you said this when playing the Los Angeles Lakers online in relation to LeBron James, or while using or playing against Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks?

If you’ve played NBA 2K21 in Play Online Now, MyNBA, or Couch Exhibition Play mode, you have likely recognized this problem. I called James because the Lakers are the most used team on the internet, but the stamina exploit can be seen on almost any of the hyper-athletic players in the game. This problem shows its ugly head in a few different situations, but it’s a problem across the board.

In Play Now online games, the fatigue rate is the biggest problem. PNO games are a quarter of 6 minutes, which is handy as it allows you to play a whole game in about 30 minutes. However, it is safe to say that the fatigue rate is not calibrated with the abbreviated quarter lengths.

Right now, a user can control James and others, almost like playing an undisciplined version of MyCareer.

They fly up and down the pitch in attack and defense, and the star player, who is used as if he is being injected with the Super Soldier serum, never really needs to be taken out of the game.

I’ve seen this several times with a few different players, but the use of James in that role is certainly the most egregious. James and other stars can work their way through the entire competition without receiving the Gatorade trophy (the symbol of fatigue) until Q4. Often times, most of the damage is done, and now you’ve had an experience breaking the immersion.

I am not losing all of these games, and if I am honest I cannot say that sometimes I am not guilty of having taken advantage of this exploit. No, it’s the meta, but that has to change.

The endurance should be strained by higher efforts such as aggressive dunks, fouls, hard contact and above all the use of the turbo button.

The next level of problem also occurs when the Gatorade icon appears. Although the player’s skill is somewhat diminishing, it is far too insignificant and does not result in adequate control of speed, shooting, or immersion.

That’s why stars can still dominate entire games without ever resting. Ideally, users would see a greater penalty for playing tired players.

These penalties should come in the form of limited effectiveness from the use of turbo and more. At 80 percent stamina, the effectiveness of the turbo button should be moderately impaired, but the penalties should become more severe the more tired a player is while lying on the ground.

There’s no question that a similar mechanic already exists. My argument is that really punishing users for not being replaced doesn’t work. Exhausted stars are not much different from their fully or partially rested selves.

In a perfect world, tired players would not only be affected by restricted or disabled turbo usage, but also by restricted verticals, reduced dunking attributes or invalid badges, but also by smaller windows with green release.

There’s a reason stars like James, Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, and others take breaks from playing. There’s a reason players are sometimes less effective in the second half of back-to-back games on an NBA schedule, and sometimes timeouts are used to restore stamina in addition to game planning.

In the modes that actually simulate the NBA game (Play Now, Play Online Now, MyNBA, MyTeam, and MyCareer), real endurance should be more of a factor.