“Most NFL fans are familiar with the Madden Curse,” writes the Washington Post’s Michael Lee, ” and the more I thought about it, the more I decided that I should look and see if there is some sort of NBA Live Curse, since both games are made by EA Sports.” I don’t know about Gilbert’s knee troubles, but I can certainly vouch for plenty of NBA Live Cursing in this house, particularly when I get my ass kicked by some invisible stoner over the broadband.

NBA Live ’05
Carmelo Anthony, Denver Nuggets

Could Anthony have had a worse encore to his rookie season? Before the 2004-05 season started, he clashed with Coach Larry Brown in the Athens Olympics, got into a fight at a club in New York, was cited for marijuana possession (a charge that was later dropped) and three men tried to extort him for $3 million in exchange for a tape of the fight.

Then, he was involved in a controversy for a brief appearance in an underground DVD, “Stop Snitching,” which glorified the drug trade and showed drug dealers threatening to kill people who snitch on them.

Anthony was so bummed that his poor play contributed to Jeff Bzdelik getting fired midseason. He needed George Karl to come out of an ESPN booth to make a miraculous run to the playoffs, where the Nuggets lost in the first round. Anthony averaged a career-low 20.8 points and 5.7 rebounds. Not good.

NBA Live ’02
Steve Francis, Houston Rockets

Bingo. The Franchise averaged career-highs of 21.6 points and 7 rebounds with 6.4 assists. He also made his first all-star start. What’s the problem? Francis was affected by an inner ear infection that gave him daily migraines. The disorder, combined with a foot injury, forced him to miss 25 games.

The good news, though, was the Rockets were so bad that they were able to draft Yao Ming No. 1. A Curse and a Gift.

NBA Live ’01
Kevin Garnett, Minnesota Timberwolves

Bad. Bad. Bad. This was a season that greatly affected Garnett and the Timberwolves, but not because of anything that happened on the court. Garnett suffered a huge loss in the summer of 2000, when his closest friend on the team – and the reason he chose to wear No. 21 – Malik Sealy died in a car accident. Garnett paid homage to Sealy for the rest of his time in Minnesota, keeping an empty locker stall next to his which read, “No. 2 Sealy.”

During the season, Minnesota was caught in a salary-cap tampering scandal involving Joe Smith which resulted in the Timberwolves losing five first-round draft picks (the number was later reduced to three) and receiving a $3.5 million fine. Vice president of basketball operations Kevin McHale also was forced into an unpaid leave of absence.

On the court, Garnett played 81 games and managed to produce 22 points, 11.4 rebounds and 5 assists. The Timberwolves, however, were bounced in four games in the first round against San Antonio. Pretty bad overall.

Damning evidence, and the exactly sort of thing the Magic had better hope Dwight Howard keeps in mind next June when EA comes courting.