NBA Hangtimeline

A very brief history of Midway's basketball coin-op dynasty

Spring 1992
Mark Turmell proposes NBA Jam to his bosses at Midway. They like the idea and approach the NBA. The NBA resists, afraid of where their logo might be put on display--seedy arcades, strip joints, and other unwholesome areas. Also, there was no precedent for a licensed coin-op game; the NBA had loaned its logo and players to home games before, but never to an arcade project. Turmell, Sal Divita, and the Midway team keep working, hoping the NBA will change their minds.

Late 1992
The NBA sees some preliminary footage of NBA Jam and gives the project the green light, ending an "uphill struggle that actually went on about nine months," according to Midway's Director of Marketing Support Services, Roger Sharpe. Turmell begins the search for player models by scouring Chicago street courts.

Winter 1993, NBA All-Star Weekend
The crowd gets its first taste of NBA Jam, and it's an immediate, massive hit. The NBA is taken aback at the fan response.

July 1993
Andy Eddy's Video Games & Computer Entertainment magazine runs a feature--a FAQ, really--called "How to Win at NBA Jam!" by Carl Chavez, Randolph Vance, and William Henderson. It reveals the existence of secret characters in the game and relies heavily on information culled directly from Mark Turmell. With all the players coming back to see the new characters, earnings go through the roof. The coin-op eventually earns over $1 billion--three times the take of Jurassic Park--a quarter at a time.

March 1994
Acclaim brings out home versions of NBA Jam for Sega Genesis, Super Nintendo, Game Boy, and Game Gear. $10 million is allocated for the "Jam It Home!" marketing campaign. Around the same time, NBA Jam Tournament Edition hits arcades as a dedicated cabinet and a conversion kit. It features updated rosters and new secret characters. The home versions of TE (including Saturn, PlayStation, and eventually Jaguar) arrive in time for the holidays.

Late 1995/Early 1996
Acclaim obtains--steals? swipes?--the name "NBA Jam," since use of the phrase is actually controlled by the NBA itself. The resulting game is Acclaim's first arcade entry, NBA Jam Extreme, a polygon-based coin-op with a fourth button, "Extreme." Midway's programmers, meanwhile, continue work on their own 2D game, vowing not to go to 3D until they are ready to do so.

May 1996
NBA Hangtime hits arcades. The test version does not feature all the secret characters. :)

June 1996
Both Midway and Acclaim show off their basketball coin-ops at the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles. Hangtime is given the inside track by the press.

November 1996
NBA Maximum Hangtime ships.

July 1999
NBA Showtime: NBA on NBC takes the series into polygonal 3D. It looks gooooood. The inevitable home versions appear for Sony PlayStation, Nintendo 64, and Sega Dreamcast. A Game Boy Color version misses its holiday ship window and has not appeared to date.

October 1999
Midway starts shipping NBA Showtime and NFL Blitz 2000 Gold Edition together in one "SportStation" cabinet.

March 2000
Midway announces NBA Showtime Gold Edition, an arcade upgrade kit with updated rosters that will appear later in 2000.

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