It might sound like the perfect gig for a developer, being the only basketball videogame in town, but having no rival biting at your ankles could be seen as a poison chalice to progression.
Thankfully, NBA 2K14 proves that developer Visual Concepts isn't one for resting on its laurels. Playing the latest instalment underlines yet again the developer's obsession with producing a slick, silky-smooth (60fps, folks!) simulation that's dripping with TV-quality graphics and attention to detail - but now boasting even more balanced gameplay to pull you into its engrossing action.
The headline improvements are the Pro Stick controls that enable you to toss a no-look pass, which can either lead to a bedazzling field goal or leave you red-faced, staring at your laces in embarrassment as the ball sails into the crowd. Coupled to this are much improved dribble controls, more signature styles, enhanced passing, far better defensive play and some welcome AI upgrades.
Of course what longterm fans will really want to know is if the new 'story' mode matches the past glories of 2K11's Jordan Challenge or 2K12's Legends tournament. Enter then LeBron: Path to Greatness starring the aforementioned giant LeBron James who has carved out a formidable place for himself in NBA history.
The mode lets you play as the star in two theoretical futures as you fight to maintain LeBron's stellar rise. Thanks to the mode's fantastic presentation, imaginative scenarios and structure that's stripped of grinding through lesser tournaments, Path to Greatness is more than a match for what has gone before in the series.
This and the other enhancements mean that NBA 2K14 remains a kingpin sports sim in its own right - so existing fans can breath a sigh of relief, safe in the knowledge that their sport is still perfectly catered for; all while salivating at the prospect of the next-gen editions of NBA 2K14 just around the corner. We can only imagine what Jordan-like heights Visual Concept's continuing labour of love will reach when it debuts on the Xbox One and PS4...