Sports Illustrated Has Broken Down An Incredible History Of NBA Jam

Anyone who’s dwelled in the arcade in the 90’s – or played on a home console like the SNES [...]


Anyone who's dwelled in the arcade in the 90's – or played on a home console like the SNES or the Xbox 360 – knows what NBA Jam is. It's quite simply one of the most quintessential basketball games ever made, featuring a number of high-flying dunks and sensational plays that create more excitement than you'd find in most other sports games. And it's still a legend to this day.

So imagine our surprise when Sports Illustrated set up a very comprehensive look back at the title, complete with discussions from a number of people that were involved with its creation, including developer Mark Turmell and game announced Tim Kitzrow.

Although we can't post everything from the perspective, there are a few quotes that we got from the article, and there's quite a bit of info here for those of you that want to learn more about everything NBA Jam related.

First off, how did they film those great dunks? NBA Jam model and player Stephen Howard explained, "You know how when you're on fire and you tumble over and spin when you dunk? To film that they set me on a picnic bench; there was a mat on the floor and I would just tumble over, like stunt work. We did that for about five days. It was pretty monotonous work."

There was also the discussion of how Kitzrow got the announcer get, having worked in a Second City improv group alongside the likes of Stephen Colbert and Steve Carell when he nailed the job. "It was a $50-an-hour nonunion gig, and when you're young and waiting tables, that's great money. I thought: I'll make two hundred bucks and be on my way." His discussion on some of the catch phrases, like "Boomshakalaka!", is worth reading up on as well.

There was a lot of discussion about the licensing, as the NBA wanted to make sure that its image was kept truthful at the time of the game's creation. Said NBA licensing director at the time, Michele Brown, "Roger (Sharpe, Midway licensing director) was convincing. We had a lot of conversations about how Midway wanted to change the perceptions of branded games by having credible properties."

And of course, its creation was something special. Mark Turmell noted, "I would work on the game until four or five o'clock p.m. and then say, 'O.K., I got a bunch of changes in, come and give this a shot.' We might play for a couple hours, have dinner, and then I would work some more, till 10 or 11, then play a bit more. . . . Six months in we had something worthy of testing. We brought it to Dennis' Place in Chicago, one of our favorite arcades. The way the business works, they said, you'd know on the first day if you had a hit game."

It's a lengthy read, but one that's truly worthwhile for fans of the game, so be sure to check it out here.

And then go play NBA Jam on SNES, will ya? Or Xbox 360/Xbox One, at least!