You may recall that back in January, when EA Sports announced that they’d be releasing an updated version of NBA Jam, Team Sports Section took a shot at predicting — and ranking — the rosters of the game’s 2010 version. This was not an otherwise productive day around the office, but could you blame us? This was the game that gave us amazing dunks and even better catchphrases (boomshakalaka!), plus shooting range that forever ruined our concept of a make-able shot (assuming, of course, that your man was ON FIRE!). Anyway, Marc Stein has the Eastern Conference rosters, and though not all of our predictions held up — Miami’s three-man rotation no longer includes Jermaine O’Neal, for some reason — there’s plenty to like.
Our first reaction: The Knicks look pretty good! Unlike real basketball, which requires a team to have some depth on its roster — or at the very least in its starting five — NBA Jam requires just two things: a guy who can drain threes, and a guy who can pull off crazy, acrobatic dunks. And the Knicks have both in Danilo Gallinari and Amar’e Stoudemire. (Their third man is Al Harrington, who left for Denver too late to be included on the Nuggets roster.)
But here’s where things get fun: Most teams have an option to play with “legends” — poor Milwaukee fans have to settle for Bucky the Buck, the team’s mascot — and the Knicks have more such players than anyone. Patrick Ewing and John Starks, both NBA Jam veterans, return for the new version, as does Larry Johnson — who admittedly is not the most legendary Knickerbocker, especially in a game in which fouls (and thus four-point plays) don’t exist. (If you’re wondering, the so-called legends must still be members of the Players Association to be included, and preference was given to players who appeared in the original arcade version.)
Better still? Among the legends for Detroit is the immortal Isiah Thomas. Which means that if you set the rosters just right, you can spend the entire game letting Amar’e Stoudemire dunk on Isiah Thomas, over and over. And over.