One word is synonymous with the most addictive two-on-two basketball in the history of the sport.


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It's a word that instantly transports you back to 1993, when NBA Jam was introduced as the first arcade game officially licensed by the league and soon became the most lucrative coin-operated machine ever seen. It's a game so revered for its exaggerated dunks, long-distance swishes and unforgettable catchphrases ("He's on fire!") that literally dozens of current NBA players can't wait for December, when EA Sports unveils its updated version of NBA Jam for the Nintendo Wii.

I've always been a serious sort -- even as a little kid who traded in toys for Strat-O-Matic board games at a frighteningly early age -- but NBA Jam turned me into an irresponsible teen when it arrived. A 24-year-old with a full-time job shouldn't have been spending as many hours and quarters as I poured into my favorite machine at a 7-Eleven in West Los Angeles.

I just couldn't stop. Not then and not now. When I heard EA was not only resurrecting the greatest video game of all time but inviting NBA fans and gamers to vote for the players they want to see in the new NBA Jam, I knew I wouldn't be able to resist writing about it.

Voting on three teams per week began in mid-January and ends Monday, with EA listing six players for each team and allowing respondents to pick only three. The following breakdown lists the original two-man pairings in the arcade version, EA's six nominees for all 30 teams and the three-man rosters I want to see.

It's a lighter topic than those typically tackled here, true, but think of it this way if video games aren't (and/or weren't) your thing: It's also an exercise to get you thinking about your three favorite players from every team.


Original 1993 NBA Jam Twosome: Patrick Ewing and Charles Oakley
2010 EA Sports Ballot: Al Harrington, Danilo Gallinari, David Lee, Wilson Chandler, Tracy McGrady and Chris Duhon

Stein's Picks: Gallinari, Lee and McGrady
The results of fan voting are scheduled to be revealed online between mid-April and June, but one source with knowledge of EA's thinking said this week that the game's design team reserves the right to make roster alterations based on "significant team additions or changes" in free agency this summer. Knicks fans will obviously be hoping this disclaimer applies to their team more than any other, but for now sentiment has kicked in again and swayed me to wedge McGrady in alongside Gallinari and Lee.