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NBA Jam Arcade CabinetNBA Jam is an over the top 2-on-2 basketball arcade game developed and published by Midway.   Released in arcades in 1993, the game became the first entry in the NBA Jam series, a series that transcended beyond typical sports games and appealed to a wide audience and not just sports fans.

The game was released in the early 1990’s while arcades were experiencing a resurgence in popularity.  The unique embellished gameplay, official license from the NBA to use real teams and feature digital likenesses of famous players made the game immensely popular. 

Midway had previously released Arch Rivals in 1989, another 2-on-2 basketball game but did not have a license from the NBA to use real teams or players.   The premise of the game was based off of Arch Rivals but this time Midway approached the NBA to obtain the needed licensing to use popular players that were well known to help drive main stream appeal.

The development team created a larger than life gameplay style that had few rules resulting in fast pace action that featured spectacular maneuvers and slam dunks.  Accompanying the over the top gameplay the development team incorporated play by play commentary with catch phrases like “he’s on fire” and “Boomshakalaka!”.

NBA Jam Design Team with Logo
NBA Jam design team

NBA Jam became one of the most successful arcade games of all time, generating over $1.1 billion in revenue.  The success of the game gave rise to a new genre of sports games which were based on fast action-packed gameplay and exaggerated realism.  This was a formula which Midway embraced later applying it to other sports such as football with NFL Blitz, hockey with 2 on 2 Open Ice Challenge and baseball with MLB Slugfest.

The success of the arcade release quickly led to the game being ported to home consoles.   While the original arcade version of the game featured team rosters from the 1992-93 NBA season, the home consoles versions were based on the 1993-94 NBA season.  Midway did not secure the license to use Michael Jordan’s name or likeness as unlike other NBA players, Jordan owned the rights to his name and likeness opposed to the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA).   While Shaquille O’Neal was included in the arcade release, he soon followed in Jordan’s footsteps buying his name and likeness from the NBA and as a result was not included in the home console versions of the game.

NBA Jam Logo
Iguana (Genesis, SNES & Game Gear)
Beam Software (Game Boy)
Publisher(s)Midway (Arcade)
Acclaim (Consoles)
License OwnerNational Basketball Association
SeriesNBA Jam
SuccessorNBA Jam Tournament Edition
Super Nintendo
Media TypeArcade Cabinet
NA: 1993

Genesis / Super Nintendo
NA: March 4, 1994
JP: April 29, 1994
EU: 1994
Development TimeTBD
20,000 Cabinets
$1.1 Billion Gross Revenue

2.05 million -Genesis
1.39 million -SNES
RatingESRB: E
Rereleased Platform(s)Ports
Game Gear -1994
Sega CD -1994
Game Boy -1994

Game Screenshots:

The story behind the development of NBA Jam

Mark TurmellMark TurmellDesigner
Shawn LiptakShawn LiptakDesigner
Tony GoskieTony GoskieDesigner
John CarltonJohn CarltonDesigner
Sal DiVitaSal DiVitaDesigner
Jamie RivettJamie RivettDesigner
Jonathan HeyJonathan HeyDesigner
John NewcomerJohn NewcomerSpecial Thanks
George PetroGeorge N. PetroSpecial Thanks
Linda DealSpecial Thanks
Profile PlaceholderJack E. HaegerSpecial Thanks
Profile PlaceholderRoger SharpeSpecial Thanks
Profile PlaceholderJake SimpsonSpecial Thanks
Tim KitzrowTim KitzrowSpecial Thanks
Profile PlaceholderWarren DavisSpecial Thanks
Eugene JarvisEugene P. JarvisSpecial Thanks
Profile PlaceholderMark LoffredoSpecial Thanks
Betty PurcellSpecial Thanks
Profile PlaceholderRay GaySpecial Thanks
Dan FordenDan FordenSpecial Thanks
Profile PlaceholderPaul HeitschSpecial Thanks
Profile PlaceholderFrank SuareoSpecial Thanks
Chris GrannerChris GrannerSpecial Thanks
Alison QuantSpecial Thanks
Ed BoonEd BoonSpecial Thanks
John TobiasJohn TobiasSpecial Thanks
Felecia TurmellSpecial Thanks
Profile PlaceholderCary MednickHardware Support
Profile PlaceholderPat CoxHardware Support
Profile PlaceholderRay MacikaHardware Support
Sheridan OurslerHardware Support
Matthew BootyMatthew V. BootyHardware Support
Profile PlaceholderJohn LowesHardware Support
Profile PlaceholderAl LaskoHardware Support
Profile PlaceholderStephen HowardStarring
Profile PlaceholderWillie Morris Jr.Starring
Profile PlaceholderTodd McClearnStarring
Profile PlaceholderTony ScottStarring
Kerri HoskinsKerri HoskinsStarring
Lorraine OliviaStarring
Profile PlaceholderNeil NicastroExecutive Producer
Profile PlaceholderKenneth J. FedesnaExecutive Producer
Profile PlaceholderWally SmoluchaExecutive Producer


Arcade Cabinet Release

Genesis (North American Release)

Super Nintendo (North American Release)

Sega CD (North American Release)

Game Gear (North American Release)

Game Boy (North American Release)

Media & Promotional Material