I decided to take a break from the Kevin Garnett euphoria and post another piece on NBA Jam. This one focuses on some good to great players who did not make the cut.
Biggest Omissions from NBA Jam
Michael Jordan and Shaquille O'Neal each had their own license agreements and therefore did not make it into the game. Although that did give us Windy City and Shaq Fu - two of the most trashed upon video games of all time. Furthermore, Jordan's retirement prior to the 93-94 season would have made his presence odd. Interestingly I don't remember a public outcry when Jordan retired. Contrast that with the response when Ricky Williams walked away from the Miami Dolphins. The lesson? You can give up your sport for baseball but not for marijuana. Glad we cleared that up. And now onto the biggest omissions from NBA Jam:
Guys who should have been in NBA Jam but you can't blame Midway for not including them
The rookie class of 1993/94. I can understand why these guys did not make the cut. They had not played a minute of professional basketball and for all I know the draft was not completed before the game was finished. And in some cases it is hard to argue with the veterans in place. I am okay with Chris Mullin and Tim Hardaway over Chris Webber. I waffled on Chuck Person over J.R. Rider and ultimately could not choose. On the one hand Rider was a phenomenal leaper and an accomplished scorer - the kind of player NBA Jam loved. Furthermore, he was once arrested while playing dice in the streets of Oakland. However, Person was an established vet nicknamed the Rifleman. Tough call. That is where the indecisiveness ends, as I would definitely take Jamal Mashburn over Derek Harper, Vin Baker over Brad Lohaus, and Penny Hardaway over Scott Skiles. For those of you who remember that rookie class well, there is one player from the top 5 that I have not mentioned. I'm saving him for later. Unlike the others he needed to be in NBA Jam. Keep reading.
A couple of guys who should have been in the game but were not because of various reasons.
Lloyd Daniels. That's right Sweet Pea. Never mind the fact that his NBA potential went unfulfilled. With no disrespect to Sean Elliot, Daniels would have been a great teammate to David Robinson. Yet another chapter in the tragedy of Sweet Pea Daniels. Strangely it did not make this book, which I recommend you read anyways.
Reggie Lewis. By then he was already dead. Remembering that was a low point in this entire exercise. Let's just move on.
Toughest omission from the list of guys who were the toughest omission from NBA Jam:
Latrell Sprewell - That season Sprewell averaged 21 points, 4.9 rebounds, 4.7 assists, and 0 chokings. And he was not afraid of anyone, Shawn Kemp included. Furthermore, Tim Hardaway missed the entire season. But I can't hold the guys at Midway responsible here. Chris Mullin had finally straightened himself out and Tim Hardaway was wreaking havoc with the UTEP 2 step. If the real life Sprewell played for his hometown and not made the game he easily would have been high on this list.
Finally, the list
- Eric Murdock. Now that's a blast from the past. If you can honestly say that you've thought about him this decade then I am seriously impressed. But why Murdock? He is by no means a memorable player. However, Brad Lohaus averaged 4.0 points per game in the 93/94 season. So I'd take Murdock, Baker, Frank Brickowski, really almost anyone. The Bucks are easily the worst squad on paper. And yet they're surprisingly decent.
- Larry Nance - Nance is considered one of the best dunking big men of all time. And given that the game treated other slam dunk champions such as Dee Brown and Harold Miner with seemingly over the top respect, I could see how Nance, another dunk contest champ (1984), would get the nod. In the end Nance was in the twilight of his career and Brad Daugherty and Mark Price were on the rise. The Cavs belonged to them and I'm okay with the omission. Ironically the 93-94 season was Daugherty's last because of back problems.
- Rik Smits. For starters he was called the Dunkin' Dutchman. He made the all rookie team, one All Star team, albeit well after NBA Jam came out, and he was widely viewed as the Pacers' number 2 guy behind Reggie Miller. And we're talking about Derrick McKey here. Although I have heard whispers that many NBA players thought Smits was overrated. And by "heard whispers" I mean "read it in Darryl Dawkins' book". I don't talk to anyone in the know.
- Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf. I wonder if he were going by Chris Jackson at the time if Abdul-Rauf makes the game. Sorry LaPhonso Ellis.
- Dan Majerle - In light of the perception that the NBA has a vested interest in marketing white players, even if they are inferior than their black counterparts, it is odd that Majerle did not make the cut. Keep in mind he played in 4 straight All Star games in the early 90s and earned a spot on Dream Team II. Finally, his nickname, Thunder Dan, would lead one to believe his style of play would mesh nicely with NBA Jam. However, when I think of those Phoenix Suns squads Charles Barkley and Kevin Johnson come to mind first, even if KJ missed 35 games in the season prior to NBA Jam's release.
- Glen Rice - I can accept the fact that Rony Seikaly made it over Steve Smith, even if I would have gone with Smith. Seikaly was in his prime and putting up good numbers. However, Harold Miner over Glen Rice was a travesty. Miner's game suits the style of play in NBA Jam. But let's see some respect for Rice. He tore it up back then.
- Joe Dumars - While some may doubt his Hall of Fame credentials, there is no arguing the fact that Dumars had an extremely distinguished career. Also he was 30 when NBA Jam came out, clearly still in his prime. In fact he played 5 more years as opposed to Bill Laimbeer and Isiah Thomas who both called it quits following the 93-94 season. Yet Dumars was in a tough spot. Other than Michael Jordan working for Midway, I cannot think of a scenario where Isiah does not make the cut. And at 6-3 Dumars would have been a little guy unless he got the John Starks/Jeff Hornacek treatment. Two little guys on the same team would have been an unmitigated disaster.
- Dennis Rodman - I think my hatred for Bill Laimbeer obscures the fact that there was more to his game than flopping, whining, and fighting. So this is just pure spite. And I'm by no means a Rodman fan. But unlike Dumars he was not a guard, hence his presence in the game would not be detrimental to the make up of the Pistons. Finally, as much as I like attacking Laimbeer with Parish (for old time's sake) I think Rodman belongs.
- Shawn Bradley - Draft buffs knew that I was referring to the 2nd pick in the 1993 NBA draft earlier in this post. Bradley's presence is a necessity in a game that's all about dunking on people. Just ask any number of NBA players. youtube.com/watch?v=nllanS0z7ek - And for the record Robert Pack was robbed in that top ten.
- Gary Payton - The last 5 years of Payton's career slightly obscure the fact that he was awesome. Don't forget what he was like in Seattle. If NBA Jam incorporated ally oops Midway would have been obligated, legally, to include Payton. And in the end it comes down to one thing, when you think about the 90s Sonics who are the first two players that come to mind? Shawn Kemp and Gary Payton. End of story.