As one of the earliest real playable basketball games, NBA Jam was developed in 1993 by Midway, an American video game developer that defunct in 2010. The game is also one of the first sports games to feature NBA-licensed teams and players. NBA Jam features two-on-two basketball. This allows for up to four players to play the game simultaneously. There would be two teams of two. Upon turning on the game, you are presented with 27 teams (The Memphis Grizzlies, Toronto Raptors, and New Orleans Pelicans had not been created). Two players have been pre-selected from every team, and below them, stats on their speed, 3-point shot, dunks, and defense are shown. When the game came out in 1993, Michael Jordan (At the time, the most famous basketball player), was part of the Chicago Bulls. However, he left the NBA for a year in 1994 and so only the earliest versions of the game had Michael Jordan. In terms of game play, it doesn’t take long to notice the exaggerated nature of play. Often reaching heights multiple times their own, and running at the speeds of Olympic runners, the players are given abilities that defy all human anatomy. To make the game even more fun, if a player makes 3 baskets in a row, he then catches “On Fire”, at which point, his chances of making shots increases and his turbo becomes unlimited. The game deviates itself from the NBA when it came to rules because unlike the NBA, in NBA jam, there are no fouls, no free throws, or violations (except for the 24-sec violation). Additionally, in the NBA, each quarter is 12 minutes, in NBA Jam, this shrinks to only 3 minutes.
When NBA Jam released in 1993, it became a huge success. So much so, that by early 1994, the Amusement and Music Operators Association had declared NBA Jam The highest earning arcade game of all time. The game brought in over $1 billion quarters. Due to this huge success, sequels were created, and NBA Jam Extreme (1996) and NBA Jam 99 (1998) came out. NBA Jam now has 8 games in its series. The game has definitely left its mark on the Video Game world (It was ranked as the 7th best game of all time by SEGA), but it has also left its mark in today’s basketball culture. Often, when visiting a basketball court, one does not need to stay there for more than 15 minutes to hear the phrases “He’s on fire”, or “Boomshakalaka”. These are both catchy phrases that came from the game. Almost 25 years after its creation, I don’t know how many players still play the original NBA Jam game, but I do know that NBA Jam has been forever immortalized in basketball courts around the world.