OK, so we've discussed why Dirk Nowitzki can't wipe Larry Bird's ass, and we even proved Larry would kick Dirk's ass on Gamecube NBA Live 2006. Now it's time for a walk down memory lane to the original "who's better?" matchup. It is the battle royale that precedes all others, has the bonus element of racial tension, and still manages to involve my favorite player of all time, Larry Bird. I speak, of course, of Larry Bird vs. Dr. J.

The mop against the fro.

The hick against the doc.

"White men can't jump" vs. "I can leap over your head in a single bound, cracker."

Even back then, few people knew that scads of teens yearned to simulate a matchup between Larry Bird and Dr. J, many of them choosing to take one black rock, one white rock, mash them against each other, and keep primitive score on an abacus...

...but the folks at Electronic Arts knew, God bless their Flock of Seagulls souls.

The glorious battle would commence with the arrival of the video game "One-on-One" in 1983. Thousands flocked to their Atari 7800s, their Commodore 64s, and their Apple IIs for a chance to manipulate 17 pixels with a joystick and a button.

Larry and Julius at their undisputed studliest.

Just as we were all learning about the amazing 1.44 MB capacity of the 3.5" disk and excited about our impending upgrade to DOS 6.2, we were also looking forward to seeing how the wizards at EA would portray our heroes of the hardwood...

...and were astonished by the results:


I've actually doctored this photo, replacing the faces with their 1983 EA counterparts. If you look very closely, you can see the slight pixelation around the eyes and hair. But otherwise, yes, I agree. The resemblance is remarkable.

You can almost smell the sweat in the locker room, can't you?
And Dr. J 24, Bird 6? What low-grade 80's crack is this game on?

Even the options page was a piece of magnificent artwork:

Notice how VAR SITY has to be split into two words? I'm no
programmer, but even I know they should have used a smal-
ler font. Sheesh.

"One-on-One" enjoyed record-setting popularity, amusing us with the antics of a white stick figure (Larry) and an orange stick figure (Dr. J). It's actually kind of amazing to realize what the EA guys managed to do graphically, considering they only appeared to have three colors to play with.

Despite the popularity of their game, however, the EA dudes yearned to offer the world more...

...and opportunity presented itself in fall of 1984 in the form of a girly choke fight between Larry and Dr. J. EA programmers decided to immortalize this moment in NBA history with an offshoot of it's popular game entitled "NBA Bitchslap." This version of the game was just like the original "One-on-One," except that with a simple button/joystick down/button/joystick up move, a player could make digital Larry stare down digital Dr. J, and then proceed to choke the shit out of him.

The cover of the ill-fated "NBA Bitchslap"

This game promised to be one of the greatest selling of all time, but sadly was never released. In an effort to overcome the lameness of the actual fight, EA decided to add unnecessary violence to the digital scuffle, allowing for kicking, spitting, semi-automatic weaponry, furniture throwing, and cats and dogs sleeping together. As a result, the game was far too violent for the youth it was meant to entertain, and had to be scrapped.

Was NBA Bitchslap tasteless? Or was it simply too advanced for its time? NBA players now regularly kick, spit, and use semi-automatic weaponry, both on and off the court. EA simply saw where society was headed, and put it in their game. Ballsy.

Nowadays, it's virtually impossible to find this game. But I am vigilant, and loyal to our basketbawful audience. I went to Washington and paid a visit to the National Archives. To get past the first level of security, I had to bribe a staff member. To get past the second, I had to blow a staff member. To get past the third...well, I'm in therapy for that and would rather not discuss it.


I did manage to get what I was looking for. No, not syphillis, smartass -- screenshots from the game:

The fateful "chokehold" moment of NBA Bitchslap.
Note the advanced 4-bit graphics.

This is how every game ended - with both players
dead in a pool of their own blood. Charming.

I submit that NBA Bitchslap was ahead of its time, the Grand Theft Auto of its day. The only thing missing was pimps and hos.

Well that's it, mainly because I'm too tired to go any further. I hope you have enjoyed this trip down memory lane, back to a more innocent era -- a time when Dennis Rodman had nipples that weren't pierced, Magic Johnson didn't have AIDS (what the hell ever happened with that, anyway?), and Isiah Thomas had the respect of those around him.
Anonymous Anonymous said...
Thank you for enlightening me. I didn't know that professional basketball even existed prior to Larry entering the league, but I looked online, and it did.

I also learned in my studies that Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain actually played in the 1950's and 60's. You must be confusing them with the Champaign Abe Lincolns, who were, according to my reliable online sources, the force of the league in the 1860's.

I smell Bill vs. Wilt on EA NBA '06.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
That '84 fight between Bird & Doc was no bitch-slap, as Dr. J pummelled the sh#t out of Larry, with a little help from a Sir Charles hold. Get your facts straight before dissing the Big Dawgs.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
actually i believe it was Moses malone, not charles barkley, who cowardly but bird in a headlock while dr j and bird were fighting