August 6, 2012
For the last two years, Deadspin has taken note of the “Hoopster” phenomenon where retro basketball jerseys have come on strong. Nowhere has this trend been as evident as Lollapalooza. (See past Deadspin galleries here, here, and here.)
This year, I decided to put my own twist on the subject and see how many pictures I could get of jerseys for players in the original and tournament editions of NBA Jam. The Hoopster trend was alive and well.
Whether it was in the arcade, on Super Nintendo, or on Sega Genesis, everybody my age played NBA Jam for enough hours that we could have been musical virtuosos or maybe even better athletes if we had decided to use that time more productively. The game was brilliant in its simplicity. With two players per team on the court at a time–and one sub in the Tournament Edition–games invariably hinged on who caught fire, which gave you about a 95% 3-point shooting percentage and, more importantly, enabled you to goaltend at will. (Goaltending when you’re on fire is one of those things that is immensely fun to do to someone else but HELL when the tables are turned. Between that and the maddening CPU assistance that kicked in during big leads and caused all your shots to miss, dunks to clang off the rim, and your opponent to hit full-court shots, has any game been the cause of more angrily thrown controllers?)
I grew up on NBA Jam TE and my favorite teams to play as were the Sonics and Magic. On Seattle, Shawn Kemp was an unstoppable force, like Bo Jackson in Tecmo Bowl. His combination of speed and power was unparalleled and if you decided at the beginning of a possession that you wanted to dunk, there really wasn’t much that anybody could do about it. Gary Payton and the underrated Detlef Shrempf were able-bodied sidekicks. The Magic were good because you could alternate between playing as Penny Hardaway and Nick Anderson, always having the ability to drain 3′s. The Jazz, with Stockton, Malone, and Hornacek, were always an option as well but Stockton’s comically short stature in the game made him a huge liability on D.
And how great was the announcer? Nothing was more satisfying than when he would say, “WILD SHOT!” or “TERRIBLE SHOT!” and your three-pointer would rattle in.
I ended up rocking a purple Charles Barkley Suns jersey. According to Wikipedia, Barkley and Shaq appear in the arcade game but not on the console versions. On that technicality, I’m allowing them to count. Michael Jordan, whose jersey I saw more than anybody else’s, does not count, though. I’m sure he’s devastated.
Much thanks to @JeannetteRose for sending me some of her pictures from Sunday! If you can help me round out the roster from pictures you have taken, either at Lollapalooza or elsewhere, tweet me @SportsRapport! The rosters are here and here if you need any reference: