Matching up for games in The Neighborhood remains the same--it could be a slog, waiting for players to queue up along with the match to cycle through all of the pre- and post-game animations. I find the Rec's 5-on-5 games a whole lot more satisfying with appropriate matchmaking (given that clubs are balanced in skill and positions), and you can take this basketball ethos a step farther in the coordinated Pro-Am league. But enjoyment from these competitive outlets depends on the players that you get paired with, and also how much your player has improved in order to maintain up.
This is where virtual currency (VC) comes into play, yet again. It is no surprise the microtransactions mess every corner of NBA 2K21--and for me personally, I have moved on from being outraged to feeling despondent. The game boundaries on a pay-to-win version, with progress tracks that are paced in ways to nudge you towards paying for VC rather than earning it. Improving your stats nevertheless relies on paying VC, and the prices increase exponentially the further you update a particular skill. There are loads of nice cosmetics to earn, and it is true a whole lot of fun dressing up your participant in new kicks and also the flyest Nike and Adidas apparel, but their exorbitant VC prices suck the life out of their experience.
VC permeates the MyTeam way again, also. This mode functions as a fantasy-esque build-your-own-team endeavor where you earn card packs to unlock players one of a roster which spans numerous NBA eras. MyTeam can be captivating for long-time basketball lovers such as myself who've Allen Iverson teamed up with Anthony Davis and can take this fantasy team roster into single-player or multiplayer games. However, the loot-box character of making card packs--which can be obtained by gradually earning MT points via new avenues such as challenges, seasonal events, and turning into cards that are useless, or by purchasing them with VC--leaves the reliance on VC unsurprisingly egregious.
MyGM, which places you in the shoes of a group's General Manager, is a mode worth mentioning. You call the shots for everything from roster moves, transactions, ticket costs, marketing, and personnel decisions in hopes of building a successful franchise. It's a sports management simulation dream, but changes here are just skin deep. You'll undergo awkwardly written and animated dialogue scenarios to handle relationships within your organization--such as how I chatted to RJ Barrett about how he used to play clarinet in order to boost his morale stats, or became the yes-man of head coach Tom Thibodeau to keep him happy. MyGM's menus are also flooded in a way that makes it difficult to navigate and get a grasp of how to spend your limited resources and time through the season. I've enjoyed this mode previously with its RPG-like sensibilities, but it's one that requires a serious revamp.