If you're like me, when you heard NBA Jam was coming to the Nintendo Wii, you were excited/a little hungry. Who doesn't remember catching fire, half-court dunks, draining corner threes and all that other cool stuff that came with playing the most successful arcade game of all time?
My favorite wasn't the dunks as much as playing with the Phoenix Suns, Kevin Johnson and Charles Barkley. My favorite move was the corner three-pointer from Charles Barkley. I think I dropped 75 once with him.
While today's games seem to be getting more and more realistic, even echoing performances of real life (hey, NBA 2K10, if I want Mike Conley Jr., to drop 35 and 20, he better be able to do it regardless of real life).
The new NBA Jam promises to have none of that pesky reality, instead it promises to be a good old-fashioned dunk fest. Because if I want JJ Barea to dunk the ball, well then dammit, for my $60, he should be able to.
I'm not a big gamer, but I am a big basketball fan, and below I've listed who the three man teams should be for each and every NBA team.
A few rules:
1. The player should be a franchise's signature player. That means no recent acquisitions, because it has to be players that have some sort of history with the franchise. Sorry Caron Butler, Antawn Jamison, and others, you're good players, but you picked the wrong years.
2. These are players current as of March 2010. I'm not going to play the "Where Does LeBron/Wade/Bosh end up?" card. Its as teams are constructed now.
2. There should at least be one guard and one big man. Since everything is possible in NBA Jam, we're not going to be bound by the center, swingman, point guard paradigm. One guard and one big man should be plenty.
In some cases, I'll list if it was a particularly tough decision, and why I had to leave someone out.
Atlanta Hawks: Joe Johnson, Josh Smith, Al Horford
Another clear example of the "big three." Though Joe Johnson and Josh Smith don't seem to mesh well on court at times, they are an integral part of the Atlanta Hawks right now.
My only other thought was putting Mike Bibby in for Joe Johnson, since he's about to leave, but like I said, this is a current list.
Boston Celtics: Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen
As if their was really any choice. NBA Jam practically defined the term "big three." It was tough to leave Rajon Rondo off, considering Allen might be somewhere else next year, but as of now, it was hard to leave any of those three off.
Charlotte Bobcats: Gerald Wallace, Raymond Felton, Stephen Jackson
Well, I broke my own rule. Stephen Jackson is a new pickup, but can anyone deny the effect he's had these Bobcats.
Emeka Okafor, Adam Morrison, and all those other stellar draft picks are gone, so we're left with these three, assuming Michael Jordan even lets the Bobcats participate in the game.
Chicago Bulls: Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, Luol Deng
In the Bulls' quest for cap space, these are pretty much the only guys left who have been with the franchise for a while. It's a pretty tough three in terms of talent, and they would make a pretty fearsome video game group.
Cleveland Cavaliers: LeBron James, Mo Williams, Anderson Varejao
LeBron clearly speaks for himself, but who knows if he'll be putting on the wine and gold next season. But he is clearly the face of the franchse.
Mo Williams has turned the Cavs into a team with legit options besides LeBron, so he's in. I already said no Antawn Jamison, so Varejao will take his place. His hair should look good in a video game too.
Dallas Mavericks: Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Terry, Jason Kidd
If Josh Howard were still on the team, I think he would have gotten the nod over Kidd, because he's been such an integral part of the franchise.
But Kidd gets the nod over mainstay Erick Dampier, because, well, you know, the talent and all.
And you don't know how hard it was to keep Rodrigue Beaubois off this team. I'm giddy of the thought of him in a video game.
Denver Nuggets: Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Billups, Nene
I really struggled with this one. Logically, the better the team, the more good players they have, the harder it is to shave them down to three. 'Melo is a given, and so is Chauncey.
But it gets real tough after that. J.R. Smith? K-Mart? Birdman? Nene? I knocked JR Smith off the list, very reluctantly, because 'Melo and Billups give you what Smith does. Birdman, while a fan favorite, might not be enough of a "name", and Nene and K-Mart was basically a coin flip.
I think Nene's a better dunker though, so there.
Detroit Pistons: Rip Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince, Rodney Stuckey
It's funny, for a team as bad as the Pistons, they have a pretty clear-cut big three. They don't really have a big man there, but then again, NBA Jam is about scoring, and when was the last time the Pistons had a big man that could really score since Rasheed Wallace?
Golden State Warriors: Monta Ellis, Stephen Curry, Anthony Randolph
This team in the game would be a billion times better than in person. No Don Nelson, and players like Ellis and Curry were just made for NBA Jam.
Randolph would also be a lean, athletic big man who can finish. This would be one of the more fun teams to play with.
Houston Rockets: Yao Ming, Trevor Ariza, Kevin Martin
Kevin Martin is probably the most flagrant violation of my rules about new players, but I couldn't help it. Deciding between him and Aaron Brooks was a nail-biter.
But other than those two, who else do the Rockets have? And please don't say Chase Budinger, we've already hit our whitey quota.
Indiana Pacers: Danny Granger, Troy Murphy, Jeff Foster
After Granger, so many whiteys to choose from. Mike Dunleavy Jr. and Tyler Hansbrough got the boot on this one, but it was close, especially for Dunleavy.
Los Angeles Clippers: Baron Davis, Chris Kaman, Blake Griffin
It hurt to leave Eric Gordon off of this least, but when you consider the raw power of Blake Griffin, I had to leave Gordon in the lurch.
Davis is the perfect NBA Jam player, he can pass, shoot and dunk, plus his beard would look awesome. But God help the poor sap who has to render Chris Kaman in high-def.
Los Angeles Lakers: Kobe Bryant, Lamar Odom, Pau Gasol
I struggled with putting Bynum or Artest on this team. Artest isn't really a signature Laker though, and while Bynum is, it's hard to leave out Lamar Odom or Gasol.
I guess one could pick Bynum over Gasol, but Gasol got them to the Finals without Bynum, and Bynum couldn't do it without Gasol.
Memphis Grizzlies: O.J. Mayo, Rudy Gay, Zach Randolph
I agonized over the final spot on this team between Randolph and Marc Gasol. Both are similar players, Gasol has a longer history with the team, but Randolph has transformed himself into an All-Star with these Grizzlies.
In doing so, he made them a damn fun team to watch, so he had to get the nod. Anyone else getting chills thinking about a video game version of Rudy Gay?
Miami Heat: Dwyane Wade, Michael Beasley, Udonis Haslem
I struggled with this one quite a bit. Wade is a given, but the other two are up for grabs. I really considered putting Jermaine O'Neal in there, simply because he sort of deserves a spot in the game.
But for better or worse, Beasley is one of the Heat's marquee players, and Haslem has been with the team since their championship days, so he's a nostalgia pick as well.
Milwaukee Bucks: Brandon Jennings, Michael Redd, Andrew Bogut
This was the first instance of really wanting to put a new player (John Salmons) onto a team. Salmons has helped the Bucks forge and identity post-deadline, and with all the time Michael Redd has missed, Salmons could have taken Redd's place.
But since we have't had an NBA Jam for a while, and Redd was the only star for the Bucks for a while, so he was a nostalgia pick. Plus, a videogame can't tear an ACL can it? Can it?
Minnesota Timberwolves: Jonny Flynn, Kevin Love, Al Jefferson
I really debated putting Ricky Rubio on this team, as well as Ramon Sessions. I think Love and Jefferson are locks, but the PG position was a little up for debate.
I put Flynn in because he is the most athletic and the one most likely to be with Minny the longest.
New Jersey Nets: Devin Harris, Terrence Williams, Brook Lopez
As bad as the Nets have been this year, they look pretty good in NBA Jam. Williams, Harris and Lopez are a nice trio, and playing two at a time could be deadly in many areas of the court.
Too bad that, you know, the NBA isn't 2-on-2.
New York Knicks: David Lee, Toney Douglas, Danilo Galinari
Maybe you could get a cheat code to put LeBron on the Knicks, because that could be the closest fans get. Lee and Galinari are sold, but it's hard picking through the rest of the scraps to find a third player.
I chose Douglas because I've always liked him, and he's a sharp shooter and a good athlete.
New Orleans Hornets: Chris Paul, David West, Darren Collison
Another one where the third spot gave me trouble. I toyed with Marcus Thornton and Emeka Okafor, but I think you're golden with Darren Collison. He's proven himself to be athletic enough, and talented enough to warrant a spot.
Okafor is too boring, and Thornton is too unknown to really be in the game anyways.
Oklahoma City Thunder: Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Jeff Green
This team looks like a blast on paper. Durant's size and touch, Westbrook's explosiveness and Green's solid shooting make for a really fun team to play with.
Personally, I think the duo of Durant and Westbrook would be very hard to play against, but a lot of fun to play.
There would be a cheat code to turn them into the Sonics, if it wouldn't cause mass suicides in the Pacific Northwest.
Orlando Magic: Dwight Howard, Rashard Lewis, Jameer Nelson
Dwight Howard is a given, and like I said, Vince Carter is too new, and he hasn't become a franchise player for the Magic. Rashard represents their biggest investment, and Jameer Nelson is the point guard that returned the Magic to relevance.
Philadelphia 76ers: Andre Iguodala, Samuel Dalembert, Elton Brand
Allen Iverson just missed the cut on this one, if it was even a few weeks ago, I probably would have put it on their. This line-up is a little bottom heavy with the big guys, but Iguodala seems like plenty of firepower.
Phoenix Suns: Steve Nash, Amare Stoudemire, Jason Richardson
Pretty cut and dried here, a great passer and shooter, and two of the nastiest dunkers of all time. After trying out your favorite team first, you can't tell me that you wouldn't be feeding Stoudemire from Nash for hours.
This could be the best team in the game, and one of the most fun to play with.
Portland Trailblazers: Brandon Roy, LaMarcus Aldridge, Greg Oden
This is a tough team to categorize. Roy and Aldridge are clearly in there, but the third one was a pickle. Do you pick a high-flyer like Rudy Fernandez, or a slasher like Jerryd Bayless?
In the end, I chose Oden simply because it could be his only chance for Blazers fans to see him on the court for any extended period of time. Until he goes out with a torn pixel that is.
Sacramento Kings: Tyreke Evans, Carl Landry, Omri Casspi
Well, I broke the rule with Martin, so I might as well do it with his trade co-partner Carl Landry. Evans is a given, and Casspi would lend a nice touch to the group.
The toughest to leave out was Beno Udrih, but then again, it wasn't all that tough.
San Antonio Spurs: Tony Parker, Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili
It was clear who to pick for the Spurs, but what's less clear is how good the team is. None of these guys are particularly explosive dunkers. Parker gets penetration, Duncan breaks you down in the low post and Ginobili shoots the lights out, but does that translate to a fun gaming experience?
Spurs fans will have to play them, but otherwise, it's sort of a boring video game team. Coincidence?
Toronto Raptors: Chris Bosh, Jose Calderon, Andrea Bargnani
Again, pretty self-explanatory. Bosh is the franchse, Bargnani is their star draft pick, and Calderon has had his ups and downs with the teams, but he undoubtedly represents the Raptors.
Utah Jazz: Deron Williams, Carlos Boozer, Andrei Kirilenko
Filling out this third spot was tough, it was between Mehmet Okir and Kirilenko. In the end, I think Andrei brings more to the table, but personally, I'm more of an Okur fan.
If the game could capture Boozer's post-and-one scream, it would be perfect.
Washington Wizards: Randy Foye, Andray Blatche, Nick Young
Probably the toughest team of all to call, since they were so thoroughly gutted at the trade deadline. Foye is a given, and Blatche is basically the face of the franchise now (that's right Wizards fans, feel the pain), and the last spot was between Mike Miller and Nick Young.
Young, while inconsistent, is a dynamic scorer who should translate well to a video game.
Secret charact ers a.k.a. people I like but didn't fit:
Caron Butler, Antawn Jamison, Jared Dudley, John Salmons, Marc Gasol, Ron Artest, Josh Howard, Nate Robinson, Rajon Rondo, Jerryd Bayless, Shaq, Allen Iverson, Tracy McGrady.
Did I miss some? Botch your team's players horribly? No, I didn't, but if you care to disagree, drop it in the comments.