NBA Jam is one of those rare early video games that made attributes like graphics and realism seem silly on the surface. The point was the game itself — or, more specifically, the rim-rocking, eponymous jams and the spontaneous combustion after you’d knocked down a few shots “from WAY DOWN TOWN.” It was such a delightful caricature of NBA hoops, it was able to appeal to both casual basketball fans and hardcore hoopers.
There were some issues with the game, though, most notably the lack of Michael Jordan on the Bulls because His Airness didn’t become a billionaire by letting just anyone use his likeness. But there were more than enough guest stars to make up for the absence of the G.O.A.T.
With the said, we think NBA Jam needs an update for today’s game, where superstars reign supreme and the possibilities for dream partnerships is just too fun to pass up. So we asked our various scribes to come up with their dream duos, and with the caveat being there could be no duplicates, here’s who they came up with. Let us know in the comments who among these pairs you think would take the chip.
Thunder: Russell Westbrook and Steven Adams
Most of my life’s endeavors begin with a simple question: How can I hang out with Russell Westbrook and Steven Adams at the same time, and convince them with my wit that they are friends with me, and that the three of us exist exclusively in the halo of happy vibes that I get watching both play. Sad as I am to see Kevin Durant leave the Thunder, these two still provide so much charisma and on-court chutzpah that I would not hesitate to choose any other duo for NBA Jam squad. It would be a really dumb idea to play with any other two guys.
Eschewing the three-happy ethics of the current basketball landscape, this pair would knock bodies and be super mean and aggressive and collect every rebound ever in order to beat you. Westbrook will put his knee into every frail and strong chest as he dunks over you; Adams will give you fourth-degree burns when he scrapes you with his gnarly mustache, and both would provide mugs so scary when you shoot a jumper that you wouldn’t try to shoot one again. Please do not @ me with any statistics because even though they matter IRL, they do not in my video game dream, where the immediate coolness of these dudes is all I can and will care about.