Designed by George Gomez, the game casts the player in the role of one of the NBA's then-29 teams, playing off against another on the court. The ultimate goal is to complete six tasks (ranging from activating every multiball to merely scoring 20 points) to win a trophy, then engage in Trophy Multiball for a shot at winning a championship ring for your team. Unsurprisingly, getting to this point heavily revolves around a plastic facsimile of a basketball hoop on the playfield. The player can shoot the ball into it from a ramp or pass it to one of four holes surrounding it (though they need to contend with a defensive player aiming to block the shot). Other features of note include a flipper, ball, and basket contained within the backglass (which can be used to rack up quite a few points when activated), high scores that are divided by teams, and the ability to link two machines together for a unique timed multiplayer mode.
Notably, the scoring system strives to emulate actual basketball - shooting the basket provides just as many points as it does in the real sport, eschewing the medium's usual inflation in the process. (To that end, there's no bonus earned after draining a ball, either.) The game's unique features, clear audio, and general design have earned it acclaim from pinball fans, though it is usually not considered one of the best Williams or Bally has to offer.
This game contains examples of:
- Anthropomorphic Food: A hot dog and slice of pizza with legs are seen on the display during their respective modes.
- Anti-Frustration Features: The "Million-Dollar Shot", activated by draining the final ball down the right outlane, automatically sends another ball out and gives you 10 seconds to shoot the center ramp with it. Succeed and you get to continue playing.
- Announcer Chatter: Befitting the license, a sports-like commentator frequently pipes up during play. (He's voiced by Tim Kitzrow, essentially reprising his role from NBA Jam.)
- Combos: The game recognizes four potential combos ("Tip-Off", "Alley Oop", "Slam Dunk", and "Fast Break"), and achieving all of them is one of the six tasks required for Trophy Multiball.
- Company Cross References:
- Competitive Multiplayer: Operators with two machines can link them together with a specialized kit, allowing for head-to-head multiplayer.
- Co-Op Multiplayer: Despite normally falling under the opposite trope, players share multiballs and modes in multiplayer.
- Credits Gag: The playfield's credits use basketball positions roughly analogous to each person's actual role in creating the game (for example, designer George Gomez is credited as "coach").
- Damn You, Muscle Memory!: The plunger button is located on the apron (directly in front of the player), unlike most pinball machines (which instead place it on the upper-right corner of the machine's front side).
- Easter Egg: As with many Williams and Bally tables from the mid to late '90s, playing a game at midnight causes a special "Midnight Madness" mode to trigger automatically.
- Mad Libs Dialogue: The announcer uses this whenever he mentions the teams currently playing."Today's game features... the Los Angeles Lakers... against... the Vancouver Grizzlies!"
- Pinball Scoring: Zig-zagged. The normal scoring system is an aversion, being fairly close to actual basketball - the basket only ever providing between 1 and 3 points. (However, with the ability to achieve several points in rapid succession elsewhere in the game, there is still some inflation.) Later revisions add in the option to switch to a regular scoring system that plays this straight.
- Spelling Bonus:
- 3-P-T lights the 3 point ramps.
- S-H-O-O-T starts (and completes) Shoot Around multiball.
- Timed Mission:
- In addition to the various regular modes, the Wizard Mode notably gives you 20 seconds and unlimited balls in order to finish it.
- The Competitive Multiplayer option structures a game into 30-second quarters. At the end of each quarter, the ball automatically drains; at half-time, a bonus round allows the players to use the backglass flipper to score extra points for a brief period.
- Title Drop: One of the combo shots is the "Fast Break".
- Unexpected Gameplay Change:
- Pizza mode shifts focus to the backglass, as the player must use the flipper within it to shoot a ball into a hoop there for added points.
- The NBA Trivia mode forces the player to answer a question relating to the NBA (aside from one question that is instead about the mode itself).
- Wizard Mode: Trophy Multiball, achieved after finishing the six main tasks. You must shoot the center ramp (worth 2 points) repeatedly and outscore the other team in order to win, and you have 20 seconds and unlimited balls in order to do so.