Your Childhood Was A Lie: NBA Jam Was Rigged


I always had a sneaking suspicion there just wasn’t something right with my childhood. No, it wasn’t that Santa Claus wasn’t real, or that toys in McDonald’s Happy Meals were completely worthless after 1997. It was something much more important to me. Something in my competitive spirit that remained unbalanced. That is, until yesterday when I read this story.

The lead designer of the smash hit ’90s sports video game NBA Jam, Mark Turmell, revealed to ESPN’s Gamer Blog that the most popular sports video game of my childhood was, in fact, rigged against the most popular sports team of my childhood, the Chicago Bulls.


I knew something was up the moment I found out that Michael Jordan wasn’t in the game. Yeah, yeah, I’ve heard the excuse that they weren’t able to secure the licensing to use MJ’s name and likeness in the game. Whatever. I call bullshit.

Turmell admits that he is a lifelong Detroit Pistons fan and was a little upset that the Detroit Pistons “Bad Boys” teams of the ’80s were replaced by the best sports dynasty of my lifetime, da Bulls. Turmell says that if you took a last second shot with anyone on the Bulls, the game had it rigged so that the probability of that shot going in was significantly lower than with say, the Charlotte Hornets.


Scottie Pippen’s overall rating even went down when the Bulls played against Detroit in the game. Ingenious. If there’s one way to take a dig at your most hated rival, it’s taking them down a notch in a two-on-two, cartoonish, augmented-reality, sports video game.

As a lifelong Kansas City Chiefs fan, I’d have totally made John Elway the worst quarterback in the NFL when he played the Chiefs on NFL Blitz, if I had the chance.

I guess I see where Mark came from, but no wonder I could never beat the Pistons with the Bulls. So I’m gonna need that $75 to pay for all those Sega controllers you caused me to break. I’d have been better off playing with Scott Skiles, Calbert Cheaney and the Washington Bullets. Damn you, Turmell. Damn you.


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Brian McGannon

What do I love? I love happy hour, a good golf tan, and getting moderately drunk during dinner.

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