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Front office fantasy

Manage an NBA fantasy team with this top pick.

Shot Sports Software's Jump Shot Basketball was the first Windows NBA management simulation game online and has been in constant development for years. The effort shows in its level of detail and sophistication. It accurately simulates what it's like to take charge of an NBA team as owner, general manager, or head coach. You can create leagues, teams, and players, or join an Internet league and compete online. You can play unlimited seasons in franchise mode, draft players, present awards, manage finances, even set arena seating and other factors for each team's town. There are probably worse ways to learn about the sports business world than by playing this game.

The program's interface reflects years of constant development, with a practically endless parade of options, settings, and features, all clearly presented in attractive tabular pop-ups that have a familiar sports statistics feel. You can configure nearly every aspect of managing a pro basketball team, from scouting reports and player trades and awards to finances and cost of living--everything but trash talk, it seems! You can even schedule, play, and coach basketball games, which is the whole point, though with so much to manage, there's plenty to do before tip-off. Fortunately, there's extensive online assistance available--even a developer's blog for following updates.

Jump Shot Basketball is free to try for three days and costs $15, less than a visit to the concession window at a real NBA arena. It works in all versions of Windows from 95 to Vista.

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