NBA Jam's secret Bulls and Pistons rivalry cheat confirmed almost 3 decades later

(Image credit: Midway)

The original NBA Jam has a secret that ensures the Bulls will never, ever get a last-minute victory over the Pistons.

Mark Turmell, the lead designer of NBA Jam, spoke with Ars Technica in a video interview about making the arcade hit basketball game. Near the end of the video, Turmell talks about how "rubberbanding" - making sure one side catches up to the other, often with the help of little automatic cheats - can help keep things more exciting across all game genres.

Of course, if you're a fan of a certain basketball team engaged in a certain rivalry, and you happen to be creating a basketball video game in 1992/1993, you can also put those features to work for a different purpose.

"Being from Michigan originally, I'm a big Detroit Pistons fan. Making this game in Chicago during the height of the Michael Jordan era, there was a big rivalry - the Pistons and the Bulls. But the one way that I could get back at the Bulls once they got over the hum, was to affect their skills against the Pistons in NBA Jam," Turmell admits in the video. "And so I put in special code that, if the Bulls were taking a last-second shot against the Pistons, they would miss those shots. So if you're ever playing the game, make sure you pick the Pistons over the Bulls."

It's the sort of little detail that's subtle and specific enough to go unnoticed by the majority of players, but it's just prominent enough that I'm sure it's affected plenty of heated matches between Pistons and Bulls fans. And thus the cycle of sports rivalries continues.

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Connor Sheridan

I got a BA in journalism from Central Michigan University - though the best education I received there was from CM Life, its student-run newspaper. Long before that, I started pursuing my degree in video games by bugging my older brother to let me play Zelda on the Super Nintendo. I've previously been a news intern for GameSpot, a news writer for CVG, and now I'm a staff writer here at GamesRadar.