The average fan probably doesn’t know much about Bulls wing Tony Snell. The soft-spoken, third-year player hasn’t exactly made his presence known since joining the NBA.
But a new commercial for American Express may change that, at least a little bit. Snell spoke about his upbringing and his enjoyment of old-school music. He also let one little nugget drop about his video game of choice growing up.
Like many people around Snell’s age, he loved to play “NBA Jam.” Snell said his favorite team to use was the Chicago Bulls, with Scottie Pippen and Michael Jordan. There is only one problem: Michael Jordan wasn’t in that game.
The fun starts around the 20-second mark:
Jordan didn’t release his likeness to Midway, the creator of the game. So while almost every other star was available in the 1993 game, Jordan was not.
There was a version of the game that featured both Jordan and Gary Payton, who was also left off the game. However, that was only released after the two players specifically asked Midway to make a version with them and only a handful of machines with that update were created.
ESPN interviewed Mark Turmell, lead designer of the original arcade game, and asked him about Jordan:
“But one day I got a phone call from a distributor out on the west coast who told me that Gary Payton was willing to pay whatever it cost to get into the game. So we told him what to do in terms of taking photographs, so he sent in photographs of himself and Jordan, saying, ‘We want to be in the game, hook us up.’ So we actually did a special version of the game and gave both players all-star, superstar stats. There are only a handful of these machines, but Jordan and Payton did end up being in one version of the game.”
It’s theoretically possible that Snell had access to one of those machines, but it seems extremely unlikely.