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  • Anti-Climax Boss: Shaq in the 2010 version. You have to stop him from breaking the backboard within three minutes. And it's pathetically easy: steal the ball, do crossover, repeat crossover ad nauseum for an easy win.
  • Awesome Music:
    • The boss battle music for "The Mailman" Karl Malone, Shaq Diesel, and Dr. J for Electronic Arts' game.
    • The title screen music of the original 1993 version, particularly the SNES and Sega CD renditions.
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  • Broken Base: The Nintendo 64 "Jam" games for their heavy sim leanings (although Jam 2000 did include a 2-on-2 "Jam Mode" that was relatively faithful to the classic Jam games).
  • Fridge Brilliance: The Phoenix Suns' roster in the 2010 game is like that because the real life Suns are known for playing "small-ball" and since their NBA Jam 2010 line-up has Steve Nash, Grant Hill, Jason Richardson, Kevin Johnson, and Dan Majerle (who are all guards in the NBA)...
  • Gameplay Derailment / Emergent Gameplay: Because the original game allowed "Prison Rules" where you could repeatedly knock down players (and not receive penalties for it), this allowed some interesting "House rules" in which the actual game is secondary:
    • Free for all for the Arcade - in which four players try to repeatedly knock each other over. Because this makes them weaker, a player would them find it harder to play the actual basketball game, so in order to remain competitive they have to swap. First person to swap loses, or person who swaps the least loses.
      • Alternatively, first half of the game is everyone just repeatedly ganging on each other... then the second half is played "Clean", but with the weakened players from the first half brawl.
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    • Pick a player being played by the AI. Any player. Your goal is to gang up on them and to try and make them get swapped out at half time.
    • 1.5 v 1.5 - both players pick one player as their champion, then repeatedly weaken the two players designated to be the "0.5" player.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: Midway was forced by the NBA to remove the Mortal Kombat characters from the arcade version due to the gory content of that franchise. The 2010 game freely features Issac Clarke, whose home series is just as violent.
  • Memetic Mutation: Pretty much all of Tim Kitzrow's Announcer Chatter, especially "BOOM SHAKALAKA!" and "He's heating up... He's ON FIRE!!!"
  • Porting Disaster: The Game Boy versions of the first two games, which suffered from wonky controlsnote , weak graphics, and poor artificial intelligence.
  • Spiritual Successor:
    • NBA Jam itself could be seen as a spiritual successor to Arch Rivals, which debuted a few years earlier and popularized the concept of arcade-style 2-on-2 basketball.
    • After Midway lost the NBA Jam name to Acclaim in the mid '90s, they released a series of games with different names. First came NBA Hangtime, which added a create-a-player mode and refined the gameplay elements, then NBA Maximum Hangtime refined things even further. NBA Showtime then took the series into 3D, NBA Hoopz made it 3-on-3 as opposed to the 2-on-2 of previous games, then the NBA Ballers series added extra "bling". Then, EA Sports got the license, which was well-received.
    • Midway also applied the NBA Jam formula of "loose adherence to the rules and fast-paced gameplay" to other sports games. The best example of this is the NFL Blitz series (with 7-a-side teams and 30-yard first downs and suplexes and leg drops on downed players between plays. After EA gained exclusivity of the NFL license, Midway succeeded it with Blitz: The League, which ramped the violence aspect of NFL Blitz up to elevennote ). Midway also did it with hockey (NHL 2 On 2 Open Ice Challenge, Wayne Gretzky's 3D Hockey, and NHL Hitz). More Midway-style interpretation of other sports includes soccer (Red Card Soccer 20-02, in which Zidane can headbutt players a few years before he committed the deed in real life), baseball (MLB Slugfest), golf (Skins Game), combat sports (Ready 2 Rumble Boxing, WWF WrestleMania: The Arcade Game) and motorsport (CART Fury).
    • Every game in EA's Street series took a lot of cues from Jam, though NBA Street is the obvious spiritual successor, to the point that Stretch was included in EA's Jam revival.
    • Saber Interactive followed the game up with NBA Playgrounds which included equally cartoony gameplay and physics as well as the ability to make dream teams with past and current (to time of release) players.
  • That One Boss:
    • In the 2010 version, "Dr. J" Julius Erving. For the other boss battles, there's clear strategies to beat them. The Dr. J boss battle though, due to the rules of the match and lack of clear strategy, is incredibly difficult. Beating him requires you to pace yourself while scoring and to be good at blocking for when he does have the ball.
    • If you want a major challenge, try playing against Dwayne Wade and LeBron James. They will kill you.