Jordan's involvement is maximized from the start, with four modes based around Jordan's career. The "Jordan Challenge" has the player control Michael in ten highlight games through his career. The player must successfully recreate Jordan's real-life performance in the virtual scenario. In Quick Game mode, players can select eight different years of Jordan-led Chicago Bulls squads, and pit them against current-day rosters. Players can control a rookie Jordan in "MJ: Create a Legend" mode, and guide him through a modern-day career in the NBA. Finally, players are awarded pairs of Air Jordans for in-game achievements. Players are encouraged to collect all the Air Jordans Michael wore through his career, and each gives a stat bonus when equipped by the player's character.
2K11 features revised "Iso-Motion" dribbling controls, allowing players to perform fancy moves with combinations of the right stick and trigger. These include crossovers, hesitations, and behind-the-back moves. Players can also use the "Shot Stick" controls for analog control over their shot and release, as well as their drive to the basket. Combinations of stick and trigger moves allow players abilities from quickly switching the ball to the opposite hand, to controlling a layup or dunk. Alternatively, players can use the face buttons for basic pass/fake/shot controls, and engage icon passing to accurately select their target. An "On-The-Fly Coaching" system uses a series of branching menus on the controller's direction pad to change A.I. strategies, or call out new ones in multiplayer. Finally, a new "Shot Branching" system lets players adjust their shots when airborne, without being stuck to a canned animation.
"My Player" mode allows players to create a new rookie and take him through a career in the NBA. Each created player starts in the NBA Draft Combine (included here, not sold separately as last year) and hopefully signs with a team based on their performance. From there, players will handle their character both on and off the court, and build up limited RPG-style stats. Off-court gameplay includes elements like talking to the press after a game (and picking responses from a few possible choices), communicate with your coach (such as asking for a trade), and gaining and managing product endorsements. On-court, players are expected to play their role on the team, and are graded and rewarded (with skill points) as such. Each game has specific goals to meet, such as scoring a set amount of points, and some games will be marked as "key" games - netting a boost to exposure and skill points if completed successfully.
"Association" mode allows players to manage a team as both coach and GM, and gives control over scouting, assigning players, negotiating salaries, and the like. This year, a greater emphasis is put on team chemistry and player egos, similar to the relevant stats in "My Player" mode. If star players aren't given the court time they feel they deserve, they become disgruntled. Up to 30 teams can be set for player control, allowing for multiple players to engage in an elaborate fantasy league simulation. Players can use an existing NBA team as a template, or create their own.
Online, players can form clubs and leagues. Clubs are most similar to an MMO "guild," or an enhanced friends list. Players can use a created character or one from the NBA roster. Club stats are tracked as any players win or lose games, which feed into leaderboards showing how the clubs stack up. Leagues are more dedicated multiplayer simulations of seasons, from draft to finals. Players join and battle other players to take their team to the top. League admins are granted the ability to kick inactive players. Returning from previous years is the Sprite-sponsored "NBA Blacktop" mode, putting NBA players in street ball pickup games (like 21) online or offline. New for this year is a "Slam Dunk Showdown," scoring players on the flashiest dunks. Standard one-game multiplayer matchups are also, of course, supported.
The final major new feature for 2K11 is the "NBA Today 2.0" system. Live NBA news and game results are streamed from online, along with a "living roster" system that updates player stats and injuries. In addition, this system is a blanket term for improvements to the game's presentation. Players now reflect their real-world tendencies and emotions when applicable, crowds and chants are dynamic, stadiums and halftime shows are accurately represented, and commentary is more accurate and organic. Players can create their own game highlight reels, player DNA, or custom situations, and upload them to share with other players.