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NBA, Video Games / Oct 2, 2012 / 4:30 pm

Bidding Basketball: NBA Jam Tournament Edition And Sega Team USA Basketball

NBA Jam

After almost a year hiatus, Bidding Basketball is back. Every week we will scavenge eBay’s “infinite inventory of NBA junk” for rare, memorable and/or quirky basketball memorabilia. One person’s trash, as they say, is another person’s treasure. Given the release of NBA 2K13 (in stores today), this week we take a look at a pair of vintage basketball video games: Team USA Basketball and NBA Jam: Tournament Edition.

Dead Auction: Team USA Basketball for Sega Genesis Complete With Trading Card Fast Shipping!
Ended: $10.95, plus shipping

One of the most exciting new features of NBA 2K13 is ability to play as the 1992 USA Men’s Olympic basketball team. Although the addition of the entire roster almost didn’t come to pass with the holdout of Scottie Pippen, this marks the first time that the Dream Team has been digitized for playable use since the release of Electronic Arts’ Team USA Basketball for Sega Genesis in 1992.

Team USA Basketball is built on a basic game engine with two modes, “exhibition” and “tournament.” In both modes, players can match the Dream Team up against fourteen other international squads from Angola, Australia, Canada, China, Croatia, France, Italy, Lithuania, Netherlands, Russia (CIS), Slovenia, Spain, Yugoslavia, as well as an All-World team comprised of the best non-U.S. players such as Toni Kukoc, Rik Smits and Vlade Divac. EA also includes informational screens pertaining to each of the countries represented in the game. So, if you happened to have skipped your eighth-grade history lesson covering the year “the Moslem stronghold of Granada fell to the Spaniards,” then you’re in luck. (The answer is 1492, in case you were wondering.)

The graphics aren’t of the same realistic quality we’ve come to expect from the 2K series (or any other sports simulation on next generation consoles), to be sure, but the game does a decent job of approximating each Dream Teamer’s likeness given the technological constraints of 1992. For instance, Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley both wear bald heads, players’ numbers are easily identifiable, and superstars are provided with relevant signature moves.

In addition, the game was initially sold with a set of promotional SkyBox (a now-defunct trading card company) trading cards that form a photo of the Dream Team when pieced together. Remarkably, the seller here has included one of these cards (with Barkley, Chris Mullin, David Robinson and what appears to be half of MJ) in the auction as a bonus. Based on other similar auctions I’ve observed, this is a pretty rare find.

Live Auction: NBA Jam: Tournament Edition (Jaguar, 1995) NBA JAM T.E. Brand New Factory Sealed
Buy It Now: $174.98 (or Best Offer), plus shipping

Despite advancements in next-gen video gaming technology, NBA Jam remains the gold standard of the basketball genre.

For the uninitiated (which I assume is a very small minority of you), NBA Jam is an influential arcade game launched by Midway in 1993 that features two-on-two full-court action between the best NBA’s players (one notable exception is Jordan, who was left out of the game for licensing reasons). The gameplay perfected the arcade basketball experience. Players like Pippen and Shawn Kemp have the ability to perform “razzle dazzle” dribble moves and glass-shattering dunks, shoot flaming basketballs after scoring three consecutive baskets (“He’s on fire!”), and because there are no fouls, they can also shove or elbow opponents without penalty. Moreover, the simulation contains several hidden easter eggs, such as slippery court mode, super speed, and special playable characters ranging from President Bill Clinton to a T-Rex. All of this chaos is depicted in-game by the hyperbolic commentary of the “Boom-shaka-laka” guy, Tim Kitzrow, whose phrases continue to permeate throughout basketball culture. In fact, I’ve been known to drop the occasional “Whoomp, there it is!” while playing against others in 2K.

The successor to the original game is NBA Jam: Tournament Edition (T.E.), found in the auction above. Released in 1995, T.E. introduces a few improvements to the franchise, including expanded and updated team rosters, substitutions, and new skills. For example, players have specific “hot spots” around the court that contain bonus points for making baskets while inside of them. The most obvious addition to the game is “Tournament” mode — after which the game is named. In this mode, users are challenged to defeat all 27 NBA teams without the aid of power-ups and other unlockables. These features are pretty standard across each of the game’s platforms.

However, what makes this listing so unique, and I suppose justifies the $175 price tag, is that it is for a copy of the Jaguar edition of the game. (Jaguar refers to the short-lived Atari game console from the mid-90s.) This iteration of T.E. offers even more secret features and characters, including baby mode, and Shaquille O’Neal (unavailable on most versions of T.E.) and Atari’s Vice President of Software Development, respectively.

Although EA Sports recently took up the NBA Jam franchise, nothing compares to the look, feel, and sound of the original. I’ll leave it up to you to decide if it’s worth $175, though.

Will you put in a bid?

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