I don’t think I’ve ever been more excited for a video game release than for the updated version of NBA Jam. It was easily the best video game that ever came out when I was a kid (the David Robinson/Sean Elliott combo was my favorite, but Jeff Hornaceck/Hersey Hawkins was the most hilarious duo).
But unfortunately, from a Pistons fan perspective, the old version left a lot to be desired. Nothing against Isiah Thomas and Bill Laimbeer — I loved both of them as players. But NBA Jam was all about the flash, and Laimb and Zeke just didn’t scream “flash” with their games.
ESPN’s Marc Stein just reported the new version’s Eastern Conference rosters, and because EA Sports wanted to keep some of the original options in place, Thomas and Laimbeer are once again in the game as the Pistons’ “legends” options. Fair enough. But add this slap in the face for Pistons fans to the mix:
Dennis Rodman is also in the game. As a Chicago Bulls legend. And don’t get me wrong, Rodman is a Bulls legend I guess. He won three titles there. But because of the wild hair color/boning pop princesses/taking off his shoes during games phases he went through in San Antonio and Chicago, his early career in Detroit, where he was not only a great rebounder, but also the most versatile defensive player of his era (and a guy who should be in the Hall of Fame), gets a tad overlooked. Rodman had great success in Chicago. But the way Dennis Rodman played basketball in Detroit is what truly made me love the game as a young person just learning about the NBA.
I eventually came to grips with my favorite player of the 1990s playing for my least favorite team. But to have to think of Rodman as a “Bulls legend” is too much to take.
Don’t worry though — there’s more controversy with the roster of current Pistons in the game. The foursome is Rip Hamilton, Rodney Stuckey, Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva (Note: some teams ended up with four players instead of three because fan voting was too close to call). Here was Stein’s take on those choices:
The same principle used with the Cavs applies here: Detroit’s legend duo of Zeke and Laimbeer, same as the original arcade twosome in 1993, will undoubtedly appeal to Pistons fans more than the current crew … although I’m somewhat stunned that there are four current Pistons instead of three and that Ben Wallace isn’t one of them.
I’d like to add on to Stein’s mild confusion over the choices with some blatant outrage: the three current Pistons in this game should’ve been Rip Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince and Ben Wallace. Yeah, they’re old. But they’re also by far the most accomplished players on the team and the only three players left responsible for the second greatest era of Pistons basketball ever.
These rosters were determined by fan voting. It is baffling to me how Pistons fans, who spent the better part of the season calling Villanueva and Gordon busts, could vote them into the game over Prince or Wallace. Not only should Wallace be in the game, but he should be in it with his Afro.
Obviously, it’s still going to be a great game that has all kinds of nostalgic value for NBA fans everywhere, but we have to admit that they got the Pistons roster wrong don’t we? (And when the West rosters are announced, Rasheed Wallace better be available as a Blazers legend).