This is a milestone year for NBA Jam. Midway's classic arcade sports game will celebrate its 25th birthday in 2018. The game is considered today to be one of the all-time great arcade games, as well as one of the greatest sports games ever made. On top of its over-the-top action, the game featured a full roster of early 90s NBA players. Or rather, almost full.
The original NBA Jam shipped without two noteworthy NBA players: Seattle Supersonics point guard Gary Payton (who would later agree to appear in later games) and NBA all-time great Michael Jordan. In a Reddit AMA last March, original series creative lead Mark Turmell pointed out that Payton and Jordan later asked about getting included in the original game. So Turmell had special copies of NBA Jam with those players included.
That copy of the game was never mass produced and never released to the public. However, in an interview with Shacknews, NBA Jam announcer Tim Kitzrow noted that this may change before the 25th anniversary celebration is over.
"Mark Turmell and I, we have spoken and it was on Reddit in an interview that he does have the original Michael Jordan/Gary Payton game, that we're somehow going to find out if there's a way we can release it," Kitzrow told Shacknews. "It's like the Holy Grail, the Michael Jordan one-off-only NBA Jam game. We just have some legal hurdles to go through, but we're hoping for the 25th anniversary to get that done."
The existence of this specific copy of NBA Jam was debated all the way through that Reddit thread. Turmell and Kitzrow have not only confirmed its existence, but now look to be going the extra mile to try and release it to the public.
This excerpt was part of a much longer conversation with the voice of NBA Jam. Look for our full interview with NBA Jam announcer Tim Kitzrow this coming Saturday.