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NBA Jam Chronicles - Egos


For years rumors have swirled that Toni Braxton's involvement with Jason Kidd and Jimmy Jackson led to the demise of the mid 90s Dallas Mavericks.  Meanwhile, around the same time the Charlotte Hornets' glory years came to an abrupt end, allegedly due to Alonzo Mourning and Larry Johnson's inability to get along. But now for the first time ever I am bringing you the truth. NBA Jam destroyed both the Mavericks and the Hornets. In Dallas, Jackson relentlessly taunted Kidd for not appearing in the game even though Kidd was still at Cal when NBA Jam was released. One time zone over Johnson gleefully pointed out that he was a superior player in NBA Jam. He frequently heckled Mourning in games and practices, telling the former Georgetown stand out to know his role. Mourning responded by calling Johnson a cross dresser and the two nearly came to blows. In both cases team management did its best to mediate, even calling on the NBA to pressure Midway to release an updated version of the game. Did Midway really expect Gary Payton to be happy with its decision to feature Detlef Schrempf alongside Shawn Kemp in the original? David Stern immediately recognized the urgency of the situation and through his efforts the release date of NBA Jam Tournament Edition was accelerated.  The new game featured three players in hopes of alleviating rifts popping up across the NBA. Unfortunately NBA Jam T.E proved to be too little too late in Dallas and Charlotte. Citing irreconcilable differences management made drastic changes. By the end of the 96-97 season Kidd, Jackson, Johnson, and Mourning were all playing for new teams. Alas...
Okay that was a complete fabrication.  But I really believe that seemingly trivial issues like this matter. If I've taken anything away from books about NBA players, besides the fact that groupies are not a myth, it has to be that they have a strong opinion about who can and can't play in the Association. It is as if every NBA player is on a sliding scale of ability and they are all cognizant of who is below them. So while everyone now realizes that giving Shawn Kemp a mere $300,000 more than Jim McIlvaine is probably a bad idea, it is important to pay attention to perceived slights as well. For example in his book Seven Seconds or Less: My Season on the Bench with the Runnin' and Gunnin' Phoenix Suns, Jack McCallum touches upon Shawn Marion's frustration stemming from feeling unappreciated in Phoenix. Marion felt, and probably still feels, that Steve Nash and Amare Stoudemire received all the attention. After one game he was upset that the Phoenix dance team only wore Nash and Stoudemire jerseys. So it's not out of the realm of possibility that NBA players knew who was in NBA Jam and who wasn't. Keep in mind that it was one of the first games to get NBA approval and use the likeness of its players. NBA Jam was much a bigger deal than any one of the numerous games out there today, particularly when it was unveiled as an arcade game at the 1993 All Star game.

See previous posts on the manual and playing on fire.