The True Story Behind ‘NBA Jam’


– [Narrator] It was the game that coined a dozen catch-phrases. – [Commentator In Game] Boomshakalaka! – [Narrator] And made over a
billion dollars in quarters. – [Commentator In Game] Jams it in! – [Narrator] But NBA Jam almost
never saw the light of day. – [Commentator In Game]
Oh my, he’s on fire! – [Commentator In Game]
Welcome to NBA Jam. – [Narrator] This is NBA Jam
game-designer, Mark Turmell. – So we put together a
demo, a video tape, VHS. We sent it to the NBA and said, ‘Hey we’re making this cool game’ and they immediately shut it down and said ‘No, we don’t want the
NBA logo in the arcades.’ So, once we got rejected
we made a video tape of nice family entertainment centers and we sent that back to them and said, ‘Look, you know, your logo can be here,’ so they relented and, uh, provided the license. When we put it in the arcade
for the very first time there were no stats that
differentiated the players. Everybody assumed that Shaq
was a bad three-point shooter or Stockton could steal the ball, so we realized pretty quickly that we had to, you know, up our game to match the real world. – [Commentator In Game] No good. – Well, if it’s just
looking at pure attributes, I happen to be the best
player in the game. – [Commentator In Game] Showtime! – When you actually put
in my secret character it just shows question marks for the stats, but they’re all tens or nines. – [Commentator In Game] Take that. – [Commentator In Game]
From the outside, count it. – I’m pretty good at NBA Jam. – [Narrator] To test the claim, we had Mark hack into the machine – [Mark] There we go. – [Narrator] And turn on cheat codes. – [Mark] Alright, now we’re talking. Usually, when somebody finds
out that I made NBA Jam they say ‘I spent so much
money on that NBA Jam’ or you know, ‘I flunked a class in college because of NBA Jam.’ – [Commentator In Game] Kaboom. – But I look at the game
now, I wish it were smoother, but it was the technology at the time. – [Commentator In Game] Razzle dazzle. – The game still holds up today. – [Commentator In Game]
It is (buzzer) good!

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