“NBA Jam” was a defining video game for many of our childhoods, but its creator is making a revelation that you may not have known about the game.
In an interview, this week with Ars Technica, Mark Turmell, the lead designer and programmer of “NBA Jam,” admitted to installing code in the game such that the Chicago Bulls could never make a last-second shot against the Detroit Pistons. Turmell is a native of Michigan and a fan of the Pistons.
“Making this game in Chicago during the height of the Michael Jordan era, there was a big rivalry between the Pistons and the Bulls,” said Turmell, per Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago. “But the one way I could get back at the Bulls once they got over the hump was to affect their skills against the Pistons in NBA Jam. And so I put in special code that if the Bulls were taking last-second shots against the Pistons, they would miss those shots. And so, if you’re ever playing the game, make sure you pick the Pistons over the Bulls.”
“NBA Jam” was first released in 1993 and became a global sensation, such that it is still regarded as a classic today. While Turmell mentions that it was made at the peak of the Michael Jordan era, Jordan’s likeness did not actually appear in the game, as he chose to opt out of the NBPA’s licensing agreement.
As for the rivalry between the Bulls and the Pistons, it found its way back into the headlines recently, and Turmell’s revelation adds yet another layer to it.
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ROY = Rookie of the Year; DPOY = Defensive Player of the Year; MIP = Most Improved; SIXTH = Sixth Man of the Year; COACH = Coach of the Year