Have you ever played the original NBA Jam and wondered why the Pistons just seem so good when going up against the Chicago Bulls? It’s not necessarily because most copies of the arcade game have BJ Armstrong in the lineup instead of Michael Jordan, who initially didn’t grant his likeness in the game. Sometimes it’s easier to blame the game’s mechanics than blame your loss on your virtual basketball skills, but in this case it’s true!
The creator of NBA Jam finally confirms the long standing conspiracy theory that the game was programmed so that if the @ChicagoBulls took a last second shot against the @DetroitPistons it would always miss.— ᴀʀᴅᴀ Öᴄᴀʟ (@Arda) June 26, 2020
Mystery solved! pic.twitter.com/ugBw7cbx8k
According to the lead designer and programmer Mark Turmell, that is by design. If you’re a the Chicago Bulls and you’re in a close game against the Detroit Pistons, you’re going to miss the last shot. That’s because Turmell who grew up in Michigan, is a Pistons fan. After decades of speculation, he admitted t it to Ars Technica in their ‘War Stores’ video about the legendary NBA game. “If the Bulls were taking a last-second shot agains the Pistons, it would miss those shots.”
So if you even find yourself playing against a buddy and they pick the Bulls, you should probably pick the Pistons just to make sure you have the upper hand in case the game is close. Don’t forget to shove as much as possible. Even though your version of the game may not have Micheal Jordan, the NBA Jam mechanics definitely allow room for the Jordan Rules.
And if you want to be a little cruel and always have the upper hand, don’t reveal the game’s secret to whomever you’re playing against. Is that technically cheating? Maybe, but you can always tell your friend that’s just how the game was created. You had nothing to do with that competitive advantage.
The rest of the NBA Jam ‘War Stories’ video is full of gems like these. Did you know that Shaq bought a copy of the game and traveled with it during the season? That’s how dedicated the was to playing NBA Jam. You can check out the full video here.