Each team’s best NBA Jam duo of all time

Vince Carter, Toronto Raptors. (Photo by Sam Forencich/NBAE via Getty Images)
Vince Carter, Toronto Raptors. (Photo by Sam Forencich/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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Dominique Wilkins, Atlanta Hawks
Dominique Wilkins, Atlanta Hawks. (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images) /

NBA Jam is a video game that ascended from the mere ranks of arcade options to the hallowed halls of a cultural pillar. To stand at an NBA Jam machine at the arcade and pull off a thundering dunk on your opponent’s head was the dream of countless children, teenagers and yes, adults in the 1990s.

The game has grown since then, with editions for various consoles and refreshed rosters, but nothing can compare to the original and all the backstory. It became the highest-grossing arcade game by 1994.

Michael Jordan was famously not in the game but had a private version made just for himself to play with Gary Payton and Ken Griffey Jr., a version that has a few surviving copies to this day.

What NBA Jam has been missing is the ability to expand the horizon of team pairings. One of the best developments for NBA 2K has been historical rosters, where one can select players from any point in the NBA’s history. In “blacktop” mode you can create an NBA Jam-like environment. I love pairing Stephen Curry and Kevin Garnett and daring any of my friends to beat me.

Yet NBA 2K and all the other options on the market cannot compare to NBA Jam, with the announcer’s corny lines and the impossible hangtimes. What if NBA Jam had historical rosters, pairings of all-timers from different eras of basketball?

This article is taking a classic game to the next level, creating the best NBA Jam duo of all time for every team in the league. We begin in the Highlight Factory.

Best NBA Jam duo for Atlanta Hawks: Dominique Wilkins + Dikembe Mutombo

NBA Jam is all about the highlight plays. Sure, the wet blanket of your group may talk about maximizing the median stat line across your team, but this game is about high-flying dunks and nasty blocks. That makes the Atlanta Hawks one of the most exciting teams in the game.

Handling the ball, we have Dominique Wilkins, the greatest and most accomplished player in Hawks history. His in-game dunks brought the crowd to their feet no matter where he was playing.

He famously took part in many Slam Dunk competitions, winning twice. He was so great above the rim he earned the nickname “The Human Highlight Film”. He would be unstoppable around the rim in NBA Jam.

His teammate can lock things down on the other end. Dikembe Mutombo is well known even a decade after his retirement for being an elite rim protector, swatting away all manner of opponent attempts.

He is second all time in career blocks to just Hakeem Olajuwon. His signature finger wag will be the perfect way to demoralize opponents after he knocks an attempted shot into the court.

Together, the two form an elite and entertaining offensive and defensive pairing. While they may not have a top-20 player all time, their best players are perfectly designed to excel in a skywalking two-on-two contest such as NBA Jam.