LOS ANGELES -- “NBA Baller Beats” is the first game of its kind; it’s part basketball instructional video, part “Rock Band,” part “Dance Dance Revolution” and part your mom yelling at you across the house for dribbling a basketball in the living room.
But it’s a lot of fun to play. A lot more fun than I was expecting.
The idea is simple: Using the Kinect on the Xbox 360, you dribble the ball and perform various basketball moves to the beat of a mostly hip-hop soundtrack. The Kinect sensor scores you on your timing and accuracy, similar to the scoring system in games like “Rock Band” and “Guitar Hero.”
Nets point guard Deron Williams led a demo of the game at the E3 conference, and he made “NBA Baller Beats” look easy, although he did fumble the ball once. I played the game after he finished and had no trouble with the easiest skill level, even moving up a level on my next turn. (I play basketball a few times per week, but I’m more Reggie than Rajon -- if you have any basketball skill, you should be able to catch on.)
When the game comes out Sept. 11, it’ll sell for $59.99 and come with a low-tier Spalding basketball to bounce around your house. You'll need a hard floor and a lot of space, because even an All-Star point guard like Williams loses control of the ball sometimes.
I spoke with Williams more about the game as well as his upcoming free agency.
Zach McCann: How did you get involved with “NBA Baller Beats”?
Deron Williams: My agency heard about it. They’d been talking with Baller Beats, and once they told me about what the game was trying to do, I wanted to go check it out. After going into the studio and seeing the game, I was hooked. It felt like the perfect fit, me being a point guard and the game being based around ballhandling. I like that it promotes a different aspect of basketball. It’s the first Xbox game with the science of the Kinect where you actually have to get up. You’re actually playing the game of basketball, not just sitting there as a superstar with a controller.
It's safe to say you’re an above-average basketball player. For a pure shooter who doesn’t handle as well like me, will it be tough to pick this game up?
All levels can play this game. There’s novice all the way up to baller, which challenges me. I have trouble with that. Everybody, even guys that don’t know how to play the game of basketball, just learning how to play, can pick up this game. And it’s teaching you the right way. It teaches you the fundamentals and keeping your head up while you dribble. It’s for all different levels of play.
DJ Skee is raving about the music. What can you say about the track list?
The tracks are hot. That’s part of the game, is dribbling to the beat. They have some hot tracks on here, and I think they’ll have a feature where you can download more tracks in the future. So they have all bases covered.
What’s your current thought process about your free agency?
I still don’t know, man. It’s still up in the air, and I’m still weighing my options. I can’t even talk to teams until July 1, so I got some thinking to do, some praying to do, and hopefully a decision will come here.
You recently tweeted about erroneous reports from some national reporters quoting anonymous sources. What was that about?
It’s normal. It happens every day with reporters nowadays. All you have to do is put “sources said” in front of it and it’s true. So when somebody comes and says something about me like that, some things I’ll let go, but sometimes I’ll shoot down so people know it didn’t come from me.
Have you spoken recently to Dwight Howard, who’s rehabbing his back here in L.A.?
I haven’t because I just got in and I was pretty busy yesterday. And today I’ve been here all day. So I haven’t had a chance.