“When ‘NBA Jam’ hit the arcade, I was barely tall enough to reach the joystick and view the screen at the same time,” says Menard. “But while literally standing on my toes, I was completely immersed in a game that allowed me the creative freedom to perform out-of-this world feats of athleticism. This was during a tipping point for the NBA as the league was bursting with excitement and culture that was appealing to a younger fan base. “Our film is more than just an original story about the most successful sports game of all time. There are various sub-plots that detail how gaming was transitioning from arcades to home entertainment and how it would eventually lead to the demise of Midway,” adds Menard.
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“Getting to work with Sean and learning his vision for a film about the remarkable history of a game I love is obviously a huge thrill for me,” says Sussman. “This documentary will not only be a trip down memory lane for older audiences but will reveal to a younger generation how it all started with a gaming industry today worth many billions of dollars.” Producing the NBA Jam film with Sussman are his partners in BestCrosses Studios, Terence Richards and Peter A. Sussman.
BestCrosses Studios, the production arm of the basketball-themed social media platform BestCrosses created by Jack Sussman, has optioned Reyan Ali’s book “NBA Jam” to produce a feature documentary about the history and success of the game. Emmy-nominated Sean Menard, who has several sports documentaries to his credit, including the acclaimed “The Carter Effect” about now-retired NBA superstar Vince Carter, will develop and direct.
“Making this game in Chicago during the height of the Michael Jordan era, there was a big rivalry between the Pistons and the Bulls, but the one way I could get back at the Bulls once they got over the hump was to affect their skills against the Pistons in NBA Jam,” Turmell said in the interview. “And so I put in special code that if the Bulls were taking last-second shots against the Pistons, they would miss those shots. And so, if you’re ever playing the game, make sure you pick the Pistons over the Bulls.”
“Yo, dude,” someone said to DJ Jazzy Jeff, gesturing toward the television. “You’re a character in the game.” The DJ born Jeffrey Allen Townes was hanging out with friends when a group had fired up a game of NBA Jam and entered his code. In the 90s, Townes and Will Smith were hip-hop musicians as well as stars of a popular sitcom, plus they worked with the NBA on its “Stay in School” campaign, so they made an excellent fit for the game. It’s likely that Smith played as himself in NBA Jam, according to Townes, though he typically didn’t have the patience for video games.
Little information is available on Acclaim’s licensing and compensation for use of the special guests. The fine print on one of the game’s boxes showed a copyright notice for George Clinton’s “P-Funk” nickname, but Clinton did not recall ever receiving any payment or signing any agreement for his likeness. The same went for Townes. While Clinton thought his inclusion as a secret character was cool, he associated it with a time when he routinely went unpaid for use of his likeness and music. His career, he said, had been plagued by stories of reneged contracts and missing royalties. “NBA Jam,” he said, “is just one of 1,300 of them.”
Four billion quarters. The was how much money NBA Jam’s coin-operated arcade machines gobbled up in the game’s first year of existence in 1993. It was a remarkable feat then as the game grossed more than $1 billion in sales that first year, doubling up earnings of popular movies of the same year like “Jurassic Park” and “The Fugitive.” It’s a number that Mark Turmell, the game’s co-creator and project lead for Midway Games back then, still has trouble wrapping his head around. “It was kind of a magical time back then,” he said. “It doesn’t seem that long ago. But then I relive the the history and lore of NBA Jam. “It takes me back.”
Shaquille O’Neal was known to have his own personal machine loaded on to the Orlando Magic team plane. Then he would have the arcade machine set up in his hotel room where he and teammates would play through all hours of the night. “Penny Hardaway was good,” Shaq said in an interview with Sports Illustrated. “I used to play as Chris Mullin or Reggie Miller all day.” The NBA is known for being the fun league of the major sports. Stars like Westbrook and George drive the league’s popularity around the globe. “NBA Jam” was re-made with newer players — including the Thunder and Westbrook — in 2010 by EA Sports.
On Saturday, the LA Clippers will celebrate the 25th anniversary year of the video game classic when they host the Sacramento Kings for NBA JAM Day. Fans will be eligible to receive an NBA Jam t-shirt with Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan, and someone could even win an original four-player arcade machine of NBA Jam. Tim Kitzrow, the original voice of the game, will be heard throughout the Kings-Clippers contest — during pregame introductions and timeouts, perhaps even voicing over Griffin’s memorable dunk over Jazz center Rudy Gobert in October.
They ended up with four meters for player attributes: Speed, 3-pointers, dunks, and defense. They added clutch in the Tournament Edition game, which Turmell said was a much better game. (Chris Webber had a “zero” in clutch in the arcade version of Tournament Edition.) Turmell, who was a big Detroit Pistons fan — and, thus, hated the Chicago Bulls — famously even tried to rig late-game situations that involved the Bulls and Pistons. If the Bulls were in a close game with the Pistons and took a last-second shot, there was a special code in the game that would cause those shots to be bricks more often than normal. “Nah, I didn’t know anything about that,” Scottie Pippen said. “But I’m sure it was, they were beating us back in those days. But we were the better team, and the better players. But I’m sure they had a code in us somehow to kind of, keep us down.
Electronic Arts (EA) Sports re-booted the franchise in 2010 and still has the rights, but Kitzrow is working with Microsoft to possibly get the game resurrected for the 25th anniversary. “I can’t speak anything to the specifics, but I can tell you there is movement in the works to get it done for the 25th year,” Kitzrow said. “So I’m hoping that we get a remake that does justice to the original.”
First off, that’s just a great Gary Payton story. But more importantly: There’s a version of NBA Jam with MJ in it! That’s significant because, as the feature notes, Jordan opted out of the NBAPA’s licensing agreement, so he wasn’t included in the legendary game. The vital question here is: Can I play it? Turmell actually answered that question earlier this year in a Reddit AMA (hat tip to Polygon for finding it). When asked if he could dump that version on the Interwebs, he replied, “I could! Will try to dig up.” Polygon followed up with Turmell, who had this to say: “I was referring to EPROMs.” he said. “I have a cabinet stored away with sets of them.
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February 28, 2021 | 6:15 am EST Update
Cleveland Cavaliers power forward Kevin Love is on this quick two-game trip with his teammates so he can continue to rehab a high-grade strained right calf, but the five-time All-Star is “unlikely” to return until after the NBA All-Star break, league sources tell cleveland.com.
Given the Cavs only have two games remaining — Monday in Houston and Wednesday at home against the Indiana Pacers — before a needed nine-day break, sources said the team doesn’t see the upside in pushing it. They want to use the extra days to get his calf better, so he can be 100 percent for the Second Half.
The Brooklyn Nets’ Kevin Durant will still serve as an NBA All-Star Game captain despite a hamstring injury that will keep him from playing. Durant and fellow All-Star Game captain LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers will each draft a roster out of the pool of selected All-Stars. The All-Star draft will air on TNT on March 4. It remained unclear whether Durant will travel to Atlanta for the game on March 7.
A Knicks official said Rivers was at the Garden, but in the back getting treatment for a sore ankle. Rivers was not listed on the pregame injury report submitted to the NBA. On the box score, Rivers was listed with a DNP-Coach’s Decision. Earlier this week, Rivers said of his situation: “I can’t control if I’m traded today, tomorrow or the next day. What I can control is how I am as a player.’’
His father, Mychal Thompson, believes Klay’s basketball lifespan could run until he’s 40 years old. “I said, if you really want to, you can play till you’re 40 years of age, but the key to that is you have to take care of your body, as you go into your 30s,” Mychal said, recounting to NBC Sports Bay Area a conversation he had with Klay.
That doesn’t mean he’s a finished product. There’s a reason the Raptors signed him with G League intentions and not for the NBA roster. The 10-day contract (about $82,000) affords them six games to see how he can fit and progress in their environment. It’s an audition by another name, and not the first time the Raptors have used a 10-day to get a 905 look at a prospect. “This gives us a chance to get Donta down in our system, teach him our ins and outs and the way we operate our offence, our defence, our schemes, and see how he looks running those,” general manager Chad Sanders said. “With Tampa just down the street, it’s a chance for us to get him out there and get some reps and get a chance to evaluate him for the big club.”
Callie Caplan: Luka, on ABC, asked about recent comparisons to Larry Bird’s game: “More, more games to go. A long time before you can compare me to Larry Bird. I just want to keep hooping, have fun playing basketball.”