NBA Jam was the highest-earning arcade of all time in 1994.
More then 25 years ago the hit video game had everyone yelling: “He’s on Fire” and “Heating Up.”
More about the game is being uncovered.
Earlier this week on the Scoop B Radio Podcast, we learned from Tim Kitzrow, the voice of NBA Jam, that Chicago Bulls legend, Michael Jordan wasn’t in the game because of the marketing pact that he had with Nike.
That pact caused him to opt-out of the NBPA’s group license.
Kitzrow also told me that MJ really liked the game so NBA Jam made a version of the game with his likeness and sent it to MJ.
Major League Baseball Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Jr. and NBA Hall of Famer, Gary Payton also received versions of the game.
“We got a call from their agents,” Tim Kitzrow told me on the Scoop B Radio Podcast.
“And I came back in the studio and recorded their voices. The artists put together the visuals and we sent them each individual a large NBA Jam package.”
Guess what? There’s more!
Kitzrow tells Scoop B Radio that Shaquille O’Neal was a huge fan of the game and had special requests when he was on the road. “There’s a NBA JAM book that’s coming out” Kitzrow shared.
“An actual paper version and online book that will be called NBA JAM. NBA JAM THE BOOK is the twitter handle. He interviewed Glen Rice, Shaquille O’Neal, lots of other players and you’ll get all the backstories.
“Shaq, when he traveled, would either have an arcade cabinet brought on the road or actually on the plane. In the city he would have his entourage find a local arcade around the area and would have his friends rent out the arcade cabinet for like $1000 bucks or so. He’d take the cabinet and put it in his hotel room. His teammates would play all night and gamble, playing NBA JAM. So that’s a pretty cool story.”
The story doesn’t end there. There is More. The next one is spooky and involves a Nets legend in Drazen Petrovic.
Simply put: Retired Dallas Mavericks forward, Dirk Nowitzki was everything that Petrovic was supposed to be.
For those tardy to the party: Petrovic was once called the Croatian Mozart and his former coach, the late Chuck Daly once compared Petro to late President John F. Kennedy.
Petrovic’s best season, his last. He posted 22 points and close to 4 assists in 70 games under late New Jersey Nets head coach, Chuck Daly and with teammates Kenny Anderson and Derrick Coleman.
In five NBA seasons, Petro averaged 15 points per game. Unfortunately, his time on Earth was cut short. Four and a half months before his 29th birthday and shortly after a Nets first-round elimination to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 1993 Playoffs, Petrović died in a traffic accident on the Autobahn.
So back to the Petrovic story: “Yeah, there’s a Ghost story connected with it,” Tim Kitzrow tells Scoop B Radio.
“Very tragic story of the NBA great and one of the first foreign players, Drazen Petrovic who died in a car accident and he was in NBA JAM.
“Midway where they had a cabinet it was in the cafeteria, a couple times people would be closing up at night around like 10 or 11 O’clock, dark and all of a sudden the NBA JAM cabinet would just cut on. And it would start going: ‘Petrovic, Petrovic.’ Just me saying his name. That story was told by other arcade owners around the country who said that this happened. His energy was still coming back saying: ‘I’m here still as a basketball player.'”