Ball Don't Lie - NBA

On TMRB.com, I made a list of the top-five arcade games of all time. After doing so, it hit me that I could do the same thing here with all hoops related lists. I could drop a top-five list every now and then to get some TMRB style discussion going. Now that my season is done, I need something to write about so I figure this will be a good start.

Staying within the video game theme, I decided to list the top-five 2D hoops video games of all time. This means that all games on N64, Playstation, XBOX, even Dreamcast, are all out as possibilities. The games I'm talkin' about can be played on Nintendo, SNES, Sega Genesis, even on a Commodore 64. That's right. I played hella games on my Commodore. Pssh, I was even e-mailing on it before I figured out that the Internet was real. I digress.

Let's get this show on the road. The top-five 2D hoops video games are:

5. Arch Rivals: 'Arch Rivals' was the precursor to NBA Jam. If you played 'Arch Rivals,' then you know all about the trash flying at you from the stands. If you played 'Arch Rivals,' you may have actually gone to the local park in your town and socked somebody in the face during a pick up game, thinking that they would turn the ball over just like players in the video game. If you did that, then you probably got beat up and questioned your decision to follow a video game. Arch Rivals: two-on-two basketball meets hockey fights on a Nintendo near you.

4. Jordan vs. Bird: One-on-One: For some reason, when I was in day care, age eight, I picked up a copy of 'Jordan vs. Bird' and popped it into the Nintendo console, thoroughly angering the other kids who wanted to play 'Ghosts 'n Goblins' instead. What I discovered was a game that attempted to answer the then unfathomable question of whether or not MJ was better than Larry Legend. Screw the 'Ghosts 'n Goblins,' as a 5-foot tall eight-year-old, I wanted to answer the question myself.

The official description for this game is actually pretty funny to read these days:

"Many people would argue that Larry Bird is the greatest player in the history of the NBA, while others would say that Michael Jordan is the best, hands down. Now you can settle that debate by matching them up in a one-on-one affair with 'Jordan vs. Bird' for the Sega Genesis. There are three gameplay modes to choose from: One-on-One, Dunk Contest, and 3-Point Shootout. In One-on-One, you can play to a predetermined point total or go a full four quarters; the Dunk Contest challenges you to perfectly execute 10 of Jordan's signature dunks; and the 3-Point Shootout puts you in the role of Larry Bird as you try to sink as many treys as you can in one minute. Whether you prefer the high-flying acrobatics of Jordan or the well-executed fundamentals of Bird, 'Jordan vs. Bird' is the ultimate one-on-one match-up."

M.J. can't shoot and Larry can't dunk, but they can battle it out one-on-one style, baby!

3. Double Dribble: I first got my hands on a copy of 'Double Dribble' for my 6th birthday. I promptly cut off 'Mickey Mouse Club' and popped in my console. I couldn't wait. What I discovered was a game that was just a little bit too difficult for me, but that looked amazing. Anybody who remembers 'Double Dribble' remembers the SWEET dunk animations. Since I wasn't good enough to consistently dunk at age six, I let the older kids play just so I could watch the awesomeness of flight. The only thing that made me stop playing 'Double Dribble' was 'Contra,' but that was never a fair fight.

2. Shaq Fu: Oh yeah. When you have a list like this, you have to be a little daring. Now some of you are asking me, "How dare you, Rod? 'Shaq Fu'?" Yup. 'Shaq Fu,' baby! 'Shaq Fu'!

'Shaq Fu' isn't really a hoops game, so maybe it doesn't belong on the list, but maybe it still does. It has Shaq! And he's not in costume or anything; he's wearing his size 5XL Tall shorts and his tank top. He actually has a basketball game that day, but decides to go out sightseeing first. While out, he goes into a portal to rescue a boy. I think this has to count as a hoops game because he was going to go play. 

Before each fight in this epic game, Shaq would drop some knowledge on his competitor. Lines like, "You call yourself Diesel? Hahaha ..." and "I'm gonna rock your hair, grandpa" made this game Shaq-approved. And let's not forget, "Where is Sett Ra? Your magic can't hurt me girlfriend." Classic. I'm gonna stop talking and let you refresh yourself:

1. NBA Jam Tournament Edition: I listed this game as one of my top overall arcade games as well, so it's easy to see why I place it at the top of this list. 'NBA Jam' took 'Arch Rivals' and made it more fluid, more detailed and more fun. If it wasn't the extreme dunks, or the insane blocks, it was the magic of making three shots in a row. "He's on fire!"

That wasn't the half of it. 'NBA Jam' had an extensive code selection. I used to turn on hot spots before the game then enter "Left, Right, A, B, B, A, and Down, Right, Right, B, A, Left." This would give me fire all game and the ability to execute spectacular dunks from anywhere on the court. There was no online play back then, so my brother got the bulk of the domination, but I still feel like I had world class skills, through cheats.

The madness didn't stop with the fire and the dunks. The characters made the game, too. For whatever reason, Jamal Mashburn was THE BEST PLAYER in the game. The guy had mostly green ratings and a couple whites, no reds. If you know the game, you know what I mean. So I would chose the Dallas Mavericks with Jamal Mashburn and then enter a code to ad my favorite baseball player, Frank Thomas. The ability to chose hidden characters made the game so much more interesting. You could pit Will Smith and D.J. Jazzy Jeff against Bill and Hillary Clinton. Thing was, Hillary was better than Will, Jazz and Bill! If she was as good at primaries as she was at NBA basketball according to Midway Games, she should have already locked up the nomination.

Well, that does it for my first list here on BDL. These aren't rules, they're guidelines. Let me know where you disagree. I'll accept anything except the omission of 'Shaq Fu!' I just can't let it go!

[Quick reminder: Don't forget to check me out on ESPN's E:60 tomorrow at 7pm. Boom.]

Rod Benson is a Cal grad who plays for the D-League's Dakota Wizards. He also blogs two or three times a week on Ball Don't Lie. Read his archive, pay a visit to TooMuchRodBenson.com and always support the Boom Tho movement.

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