If you grew up in the 90’s and can remember dubbing the Purple Tape on to cassette, race riots, and the first black president Bill Clinton, then you probably also remember spending hours talking shit and busting on fools in EA Sports' NBA Jam. The quintessential 90’s sports game, along with arguably NHL 94’ and Tecmo Bowl, was really something special. Back when licensing real teams and players was something relatively new, NBA Jam was special because it not only featured real players (besides the notoriously missing Jordan), but also delved into the realm of popular culture, rewarding players who spent hours playing the game with secret unlockable characters like Al Gore, Bill Clinton, and eventually, if you put in the work, the Beastie Boys.
In a recent interview with ESPN Sports’ Gamer Blog, lead developer Mark Turmell waxed nostalgic about how much of a cultural impact the game had, talking about how Shaq bought two arcade machines, one for the crib, and one he actually brought with him for away games to play with teammates in his hotel room. Ridiculous.
Turmell also confirmed the long held suspicion by fans that the game had some bias written into the code. While the rumor about Scottie Pippen’s stats being nerfed at certain times was put to bed, the developer did put in some code that made the Chicago Bulls choke versus their great 90’s rivals the Detroit Pistons in last second buzzer beaters. Everytime. Interestingly, he also confirmed that early NBA Jam arcade machines were haunted by the ghost of the late Nets player Drazen Petrovic.