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NBA Jam Eastern Conference rosters full of disappointment for Detroit Pistons fans

I don’t think I’ve ever been more excited for a video game release than for the updated version of NBA Jam. It was easily the best video game that ever came out when I was a kid (the David Robinson/Sean Elliott combo was my favorite, but Jeff Hornaceck/Hersey Hawkins was the most hilarious duo).

But unfortunately, from a Pistons fan perspective, the old version left a lot to be desired. Nothing against Isiah Thomas and Bill Laimbeer — I loved both of them as players. But NBA Jam was all about the flash, and Laimb and Zeke just didn’t scream “flash” with their games.

ESPN’s Marc Stein just reported the new version’s Eastern Conference rosters, and because EA Sports wanted to keep some of the original options in place, Thomas and Laimbeer are once again in the game as the Pistons’ “legends” options. Fair enough. But add this slap in the face for Pistons fans to the mix:

Dennis Rodman is also in the game. As a Chicago Bulls legend. And don’t get me wrong, Rodman is a Bulls legend I guess. He won three titles there. But because of the wild hair color/boning pop princesses/taking off his shoes during games phases he went through in San Antonio and Chicago, his early career in Detroit, where he was not only a great rebounder, but also the most versatile defensive player of his era (and a guy who should be in the Hall of Fame), gets a tad overlooked. Rodman had great success in Chicago. But the way Dennis Rodman played basketball in Detroit is what truly made me love the game as a young person just learning about the NBA.

I eventually came to grips with my favorite player of the 1990s playing for my least favorite team. But to have to think of Rodman as a “Bulls legend” is too much to take.

Don’t worry though — there’s more controversy with the roster of current Pistons in the game. The foursome is Rip Hamilton, Rodney Stuckey, Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva (Note: some teams ended up with four players instead of three because fan voting was too close to call). Here was Stein’s take on those choices:

The same principle used with the Cavs applies here: Detroit’s legend duo of Zeke and Laimbeer, same as the original arcade twosome in 1993, will undoubtedly appeal to Pistons fans more than the current crew … although I’m somewhat stunned that there are four current Pistons instead of three and that Ben Wallace isn’t one of them.

I’d like to add on to Stein’s mild confusion over the choices with some blatant outrage: the three current Pistons in this game should’ve been Rip Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince and Ben Wallace. Yeah, they’re old. But they’re also by far the most accomplished players on the team and the only three players left responsible for the second greatest era of Pistons basketball ever.

These rosters were determined by fan voting. It is baffling to me how Pistons fans, who spent the better part of the season calling Villanueva and Gordon busts, could vote them into the game over Prince or Wallace. Not only should Wallace be in the game, but he should be in it with his Afro.

Obviously, it’s still going to be a great game that has all kinds of nostalgic value for NBA fans everywhere, but we have to admit that they got the Pistons roster wrong don’t we? (And when the West rosters are announced, Rasheed Wallace better be available as a Blazers legend).


  • Sep 8, 201012:57 pm
    by james


    Zeke and Laimbeer are the perfect duo for the Piston legends. First they were both in the original, and on top of that they were the best team to pick in the arcade version. As the creator of NBA Jam is a huge Pistons fan.

    Yes neither player could dunk, but Isiah was pretty much the fastest player in the game. Who could make shots anywhere. But what I used to kill player with, was Isiah’s speed to get into a lay-up animation draw both defenders on defense and then kick it out to Laimbeer for 3. Laimbeer was the best big shooter in that game period. Plus he was a good defensive player with the pushing.

    So the Pistons were a team a thinking man used to beat the Dunker teams. The shooting team for sure.

  • Sep 8, 20101:58 pm
    by nuetes


    fear the fro version of ben wallace should have absolutely been in the game. what kind of morons are working on this game? the fro should override fan votes everytime. they could have had some fear the fro dunk animation ala barkley’s chaos dunk. also a stickman prince with long gangly arms should have been included as well. oh well not like i was gonna buy the thing either way. kind of a shame they let fan votes override something that could have called for so much more creativity and fun.

  • Sep 8, 20102:42 pm
    by Patrick Hayes


    Rip with his mask will look pretty sweet in the game though.

  • Sep 8, 20108:27 pm
    by gmehl1977


    I think with the amount of effort they put into game detail these days they should of had up to 4 legends and 4 current players per team. My choices would of been:

    Legends: Isaiah Thomas, Bill Laimbeer, Joe Dumars, Dennis Rodman. (Honourable mention: Chauncey Billups, John Salley, Rasheed Wallace and Vinnie Johnson).
    Current: Rip Hamilton, Ben Wallace, Tayshaun Prince, Rodney Stuckey.
    Surley if enough people complained about the rosters then  EA Sports could provide downloadable patches so guys like Big Ben could be added to the game. Big Ben of coarse would have to have his afro and extra long sweat bands on both arms. Just imagine a line up of Rasheed & Ben….awesome!

  • Sep 8, 201010:18 pm
    by Laser


    it would be impossible to pick four guys off the roster who don’t remind detroit fans that the team stinks. our up-and-coming players are all bad choices because they will never up-and-come, since they’re buried behind our dusty old veterans.
    if it was up to me, tayshaun would be a lock. i’d also throw in bynum since he’s an exciting player and the best point guard on the team by such a wide margin that it’s conceivable he eventually gets his due, even from an organization as backwards as this. jonas is exciting, but it’s hard to get too thrilled about a SF who has no opportunity to play his natural position. it’s impossible to get excited about any of our shooting guards since there’s too many of them for our own good. how do none of our go-to scorers end up in a list of exciting players? when they all play the same position. big ben might not even last the length of his contract and certainly, one would think, no longer than that. max? no. charlie hustle? ha ha. BIG no. wilcox is already a memory. summers and white will be permanently decked out in their steve harveys. daye would almost certainly qualify if he wasn’t BURIED deeper than my grandpa. and i figure you gotta see what monroe can do before you get all excited.
    it’s a wonder how anybody looks at this team and sees a bright future. do people still call this a “rebuilding” process?? we’re capped out and saddled with many long-term commitments! that’s not rebuilding. nobody with any sense would call that rebuilding. we’re just plain awful. “rebuilding” makes it sound like there’s a plan in place and flexibility. obviously we have neither.
    @hayes: can i submit an op ed? i’m putting something together for bleacher report, but i’d rather put it here because i hate bleacher report. no hard feelings if you guys say no; i’ll just put it on b/r and it’ll be the only coherent thing that site sees all month.

  • Sep 8, 201010:33 pm
    by Laser


    also, forgot to add: this thing wasn’t voted on by just pistons fans. or else there would have been, like, three votes. and none of them would have been for charlie hustle.
    how many commenters here still consider themselves pistons fans? i certainly don’t. not at the moment. being a fan of this team was a source of sheer misery last season (and people wonder why i’m such a miser), and i won’t put myself through that again. i know when i first came here, i caught some crap for saying i had one foot out the door, but believe it or not i do. my patience with this team runs out in february if there aren’t some wholesale changes.
    and by that i mean a major overhaul of the team’s balance, not necessarily a major roster overhaul. but ditching some shooting guards, getting a good return for tayshaun, adding something to the frontcourt. anything but a team made entirely of swingmen. old habits die hard, but i’m truly only a masochist when it comes to women.
    i’m preparing myself for that not happening, so i’m sure some people will be very happy not to see me around february. i (obviously) enjoy ranting and pointing out to pistons optimists just how bad things really are, but i no longer like this team. if you saw me watching a game last season you’d think i’d bet my life on every game. and i’m not going through that anymore, since it’s going to be a losing bet around, say, 55 times.

  • Sep 8, 201010:43 pm
    by nuetes


    @laser – leave it up to you to tear down the team because they can’t find players suited to be portrayed in a video game. anyways the video game isn’t even trying to emulate the actual nba. it’s supposed to be an off the wall fun simple video game. it really shouldn’t matter who is in it, but let’s face it there are some quirky players on the pistons and the fans voted in a bunch of stock boring guys. they could have had a short speedy bynum, or a long skinny prince, or a big afro ben wallace, or heck even a white crazy man jerebko, but the fans all voted for players that will be no fun to play with, and i can’t imagine any of them will have their own unique dunks or animations. stuckey can’t even dunk yet he’s in nba jam? in fact none of the pistons can ‘jam’ yet they are in a game called nba jam. maxiell might as well be in it. and white.
    also might as well post your op-ed on bleacher report and reach a different audience. everyone around here knows how you feel. not saying that’s bad, because i do enjoy your comments, but i’d like to see some of the comments over there.

  • Sep 8, 201011:13 pm
    by The Rake


    Did you vote for the players in the game? Did anyone have any idea this was happening?

  • Sep 8, 201011:56 pm
    by gmehl1977


    Yeah i voted but i can’t remember if it was on the EA website or one just for NBA Jam. I voted for Tay, Rip and Stuckey. By memory i don’t think they had a choice on there to vote for Wallace cause he wasn’t signed until late.
    I really would of loved to of read the mood of your comments prior to us trading Billups. I am guessing most people see the day Billups leaving as the pistons going down hill. As nuetes stated we all understand your grief but for crying out load man the topic is about a computer game. Your user name should of been Grouchy Smurf!

  • Sep 9, 201012:49 am
    by Patrick Hayes



    I would’ve loved a Salley/Rodman combo. Reunite the ‘Swat Team.’ I don’t know if they were actually called that, but I do remember that my dad had one of those cartoon t-shirts of their heads with ‘Swat Team’ as the caption, so we’ll go with it.

  • Sep 9, 201012:50 am
    by Patrick Hayes



    If you can’t get excited about NBA Jam, you can’t get excited about anything.

    As far as your op-ed, I’d say submit it to Dan Feldman. He’s the man in charge around here. You can e-mail it to him at danfeld11@gmail.com.

  • Sep 9, 201012:51 am
    by Patrick Hayes



    Bynum/Jerebko would’ve been great choices. I wouldn’t really complain about them. They certainly aren’t the Pistons best players, but they both embody the Piston ethic — scrappy, unconventional guys who make it work somehow. Plus Bynum would be really fast in that game.

  • Sep 9, 201012:54 am
    by Patrick Hayes


    @The Rake:

    I assume the “@author” was directed at me? Come on. Read the byline on the post. You’re better than that.

    And yeah, I did vote. Fan voting was open a few months ago. I think I saw it on Facebook, but I know several sites, including TrueHoop, Ball Don’t Lie and Slam, all wrote about it while it was going on.

  • Sep 9, 20102:09 am
    by Laser


    thanks, hayes. yeah most people here know how i feel, but this will fall under the category of “article” rather than “rant.” it’s a work in progress right now, but i just don’t like bleacher report for a great many reasons. whatever, maybe it’ll end up there after all.
    @nuetes: buddy, did you just complain about my complaint about the game and then complain about the game similarly? ha. maybe i read it wrong. but my comment was not so much, “these pistons aren’t fit for a video game!” it was more, “i can’t think of 3-4 players worth getting truly excited about.” the fact that this lack of excitement translates to the video game is just a fun result of how hard we suck.

  • Sep 9, 201011:16 pm
    by trav


    I agree, tay rip and of course Wallace.  or at least throw in t mac.  People who voted, might not be fans of the pistons, but of other teams and just figured that charlie v and ben Gordon were good enough.

  • Sep 10, 201012:21 am
    by C-Foe


    @gmehl:  I like your list.  I would make one minor change to the honorable mention section.  I would replace Salley with Grant Hill.  Although he did ask to be traded to Orlando, I think he did enough as a Piston to deserve a spot.
    @laser:  I’m still a fan.  Those of us who have been around for a while remember those Pistons teams that took the floor after Isiah retired but before the Grant Hill draft.  The ones with Sean Elliot (1 yr and he ran back to San Antonio), Greg “Cadillac” Anderson, and Oliver “Pig” Miller.  If I could remain a fan after those teams, I think I can tolerate this one.

  • Sep 10, 20105:21 pm
    by C-Foe


    Oops, quick correction.  I should have said, “those teams that took the floor the season Isiah retired and the season Grant Hill was drafted.” 

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