6 NBA Jam Facts


Back in 1993, a 2-on-2 basketball game sent waves throughout the video game industry and gamers alike, due to its fun, easy to pick up, and crazy gameplay. It was one of the first sports video games ever to feature both NBA players and NBA franchises, and it was released in arcades and on video game consoles, including the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, Sega Genesis, Nintendo Game Boy, Sega CD and Sega Game Gear. Here are six fascinating facts about NBA Jam, one of the most popular sports gaming series ever.

6 Facts About NBA Jam

    1. Originally, the NBA didn’t want any part of the game. (source) Did you know that NBA Jam was originally going to just feature generic players without the NBA license. Midway, the company that developed the game, had approached the National Basketball Association about getting a license for the game, but the NBA didn’t want their logo in “seedy” arcades. Eventually, the NBA changed their mind, and the league would wind up pocketing $100 from every arcade game that was sold.
    1. During his playing career, Shaquille O’Neal traveled with an NBA Jam arcade cabinet. (source) Mark Turmell, who was the creator of the NBA Jam franchise, revealed in a 2008 interview with ESPN that NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal had purchased two NBA Jam arcade cabinets. As Turmell explained, Shaq had one of the cabinets in his home, but would have the other cabinet shipped with him for road trips so that the arcade machine could be set up in his hotel room while traveling. Shaq and his teammates would play the game, and then someone would pack the cabinet up and ship it to the next city.
    1. The classic voiceover artist from NBA Jam also voiced several other popular sports games. (source) “He’s on fire!” and “Boomshakalaka!” are just two of many memorable lines from the announcer in NBA Jam. That announcer, Tim Kitzrow, was the not only the memorable voice in NBA Jam, but also in several others sports video games, including classics like NFL Blitz, NHL Hitz, MLB Slugfest, as well as more recent sports titles like Mutant Football League.
    1. NBA Jam has a long history of having fun secret characters. (source) When NBA Jam came onto the gaming in the 1990s, gamers were stunned to find out that they could unlock hidden characters that included the likes of Reptile from the Mortal Kombat universe or even President Bill Clinton. Throughout the history of NBA Jam and the multiple releases over the years, these fun and secret characters have been a running theme, with others including John Elway, Prince Charles, Hillary Cliton, Marv Albert and Sarah Palin.
    1. NBA Jam was the best-selling sports game for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES). (source) The SNES is widely regarded as one of the greatest and most influential video game consoles in gaming history, and its best-selling sports title was NBA Jam, having sold 1.2 million copies. While NBA Jam was in actuality the 40th best-selling game in general in the SNES library, it was still the top sports game for the console.
    1. NBA Jam was created in just ten months. (source) NBA Jam creator Mark Turmell and his team were able to developer an all-time classic, as the very first version of NBA Jam was released in only ten months. By completing the game two months ahead of schedule, Turmell and his team secured a 20% royalty bonus.

Since its original release in 1993, there have been 13 installments in the NBA Jam series. If you’ve played an NBA Jam game, what are your memories of it?


Featured image photo credit: Simon Starr, 2017. Originally found on Flickr.com. Image was resized and cropped. Creative Commons 2.0.

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