‘NBA Jam’ creator admits he gave Pistons key advantage over Bulls

If you’ve played as the Bulls against the Pistons on “NBA Jam” and yelled about the game being rigged, well, you are actually right.

In an interview with Ars Technica, “NBA Jam” lead designer and programmer Mark Turmell admitted to including a code that gave Detroit a significant advantage over Chicago. Turmell, a Pistons fan, said if a Bulls player attempted a buzzer-beater against the Pistons, the shot would automatically miss.

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“Making this game in Chicago during the height of the Michael Jordan era, there was a big rivalry between the Pistons and the Bulls, but the one way I could get back at the Bulls once they got over the hump was to affect their skills against the Pistons in ‘NBA Jam,” Turmell said. “And so I put in special code that if the Bulls were taking last-second shots against the Pistons, they would miss those shots.

“And so, if you’re ever playing the game, make sure you pick the Pistons over the Bulls.”

John Carlton, another “NBA Jam” developer, suspected there was a glitch involved when playing that specific matchup — and he lost a few games against Turmell because of it.

“He says he coded the Bulls to always throw a brick at the last second,” Carlton told Sports Illustrated. “I always played as the Bulls and he always played as the Pistons, and he won most of the time — so maybe he actually did that.”

Keep in mind the original arcade version of “NBA Jam” was released in 1993, so the Bulls-Pistons rivalry was over at that point. Jordan and Scottie Pippen had emerged as one of the greatest dynamic duos in NBA history, and Chicago was in the midst of its first three-peat.

But being a Michigan native meant Turmell couldn’t finish his work on the classic game without sneaking in one last jab at the Bulls. You have to respect the level of pettiness.

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