Altitude with an attitude
Hornets, Rockets, Celtics, Mavericks, Raptors, Sixers, Nuggets, Grizzlies, Bucks, Lakers ... they're all featured in our latest around-the-league notes after a tribute to a life-changing arcade game
Aprils are jam-packed in #thisleague. The end of the regular season and the start of the playoffs leave little space for casual side discussion.
The month isn't quite over yet, though, and I couldn't let the calendar flip to May without commemorating an important anniversary not only in my life but for countless basketball fans.
April 2023 marked 30 years since the April 1993 introduction of NBA JAM. I’ll put it up against any rival you wish to nominate when it comes to the greatest coin-operated arcade video game of all-time and proudly own the Arcade1Up cabinet version which allows me to make occasional trips back in time right in my home office.
I was less than a year away from becoming a full-time NBA beat writer covering the Clippers for The Los Angeles Daily News when NBA Jam debuted. Every spare quarter I could find at the time was plunged into my favorite machine at a nearby 7-Eleven to try to master this new digitized game of two-on-two on steroids. My go-to tandem: Chris Mullin and Tim Hardaway ... or Charles Barkley and Dan Majerle .... or Derrick Coleman and my beloved Dražen Petrović.
The game was the first licensed by the NBA and holds such a strong place in my heart after all these years that I still write about it any chance I get. It's also tremendously meaningful to me that the voice of NBA JAM, Tim Kitzrow, agreed to provide his unmistakable commentary for the introductions on the twice-weekly podcast I co-host alongside Turner Sports' Chris Haynes.
Not long before I moved into the NBA bubble at Walt Disney World in Orlando in the summer of 2020, I spent several hours putting together my own NBA JAM. I can barely screw in a light bulb, but somehow I found the focus and determination to assemble this beauty myself out of the deceptively small box it arrived in.
I guess when you want something bad enough …
My wish now is that an original arcade version of NBA JAM lands on permanent display in the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass., someday. It really is, as Kitzrow is fond of saying, one of the greatest marketing tools that the NBA has ever had.
Read on for my latest around-the-league notes …