Boomshakalaka! NBA Jam Secrets Revealed

Just like I do every Wednesday afternoon, I was cruising around the interwebs reading articles about ’90s video games and happened upon a gem. NBA Jam creator Mark Turnell was interviewed by ESPN’s gamer blog back in 2008 and reveals all sorts of amazing tidbits about the iconic arcade game and the culture that surrounded it.

Most notably, he reveals that the game had a secret code that made Scottie Pippen miss nearly every last second shot when playing the Pistons. Turnell, a Pistons fan, probably never thought twice about including it.

Did Scottie Pippen’s ratings in the game really drop when he played certain teams?
It’s true, but only when the Bulls played the Pistons. If there was a close game and anyone on the Bulls took a last second shot, we wrote special code in the game so that they would average out to be bricks. There was the big competition back in the day between the Pistons and the Bulls, and since I was always a big Pistons fan, that was my opportunity to level the playing field.

Other gamer cocktail party conversation fodder:

  • Shaq had two copies of the game. Once was kept at home and the other was flown to all Orlando Magic road games
  • Gary Payton and Michael Jordan were so disappointed at not being included in the original, that they sent in pictures of themselves so that their characters could be added to a special release
  • The original NBA Jam arcade machines are said to be haunted, because they came out just before Drazen Petrovic died, but included him in the game. Every so often, the game starts spouting out “Petrovic! Petrovic! Petrovic!”
  • NBA Jam still holds the world record for most money earned at one location in a single week, with $2,468.
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