NBA 2K8 was well received upon release. Aggregating review website GameRankings gave NBA 2K8 an average rating of 83.56% based on 17 reviews for the PlayStation 3 version, 72.50% based on 6 reviews for the PlayStation 2 version, and 83.39% based on 35 reviews for the Xbox 360 version.Metacritic, also an aggregating review website, gave the game a score of 81/100 from 18 critics for the PlayStation 3 version, 72/100 from 7 critics for the PlayStation 2 version, and 81/100 from 33 critics for the Xbox 360 version.
IGN's Hilary Goldstein gave the game a 7.9/10 in her review. Goldstein said: "In many ways, NBA 2K8 is an improved game on the court. But there are a lot of minor issues that really drag it down. Over the course of my first dozen games, I was in love. But as the season wore on, the issues began piling up to a point that it became a source of frustration. The Lock-on D gaff is inexcusable and the lackluster defensive AI allows decent players to tear it up on offense. Jason Williams should not be dropping 30 points a game. Yet he won the MVP in year two of my franchise. Still, any hoops fan should give NBA 2K8 a look. It's certainly the best basketball game on any system this year. The Association is a solid franchise mode and, if [Virtual Concepts] can iron out its AI and gameplay issues, next year's model could be something very special."
Aaron Thomas of GameSpot gave the game an 8.5 out of 10. In his review, Thomas praised the game for having a large amount of content, the CPU, and the new additions to the game. Thomas said: "It is rare to find a sports game where you're in awe of the moves you see onscreen, but it's something that happens routinely with 2K8. Rather than get upset about how the CPU is picking you apart, you'll find yourself admiring how it happened and then resolving to return the favor the next time down the court. It's just too bad that such problems as missed layups, poor instructions, and a somewhat stale association mode are present because even with these problems, NBA 2K8 is one of the greatest basketball games in recent memory. Whether you're a casual basketball fan or a total hoops nut, this is the game for you."