NBA Jam is a memorable arcade game for many reasons, but the first thing that comes to mind for a lot of its fans is the game’s announcer, for iconic lines like “HE’S ON FIRE!”, and “BOOMSHAKALAKA!”. In this episode, we meet Tim Kitzrow, the voice behind the catchphrase, and how NBA Jam shaped his career as a voice actor for video games.
JAMES PARKINSON: NBA Jam is a memorable arcade game for many reasons, but the first thing that comes to mind for a lot of its fans is the game’s announcer, for iconic lines like this.
NBA Jam Game Audio: "KABOOM!", "HE’S HEATING UP!", "HE’S ON FIRE!", "BOOMSHAKALAKA!".
JAMES PARKINSON: It’s the voice of Tim Kitzrow, who’s performances have contributed to NBA Jam’s longevity, and its prominence in popular culture.
TIM KITZROW: Hi everyone, Tim Kitzrow from NBA Jam. Boomshakalaka!
JAMES PARKINSON: The inspiration for Tim’s character came directly from real-life commentators like Marv Albert.
JAMES PARKINSON: In the voice-over booth Tim would envision big plays and channel that energy into his performance.
TIM KITZROW: It was just so intuitive. I was like, envisioning, you know, Jordan, great plays, I would have specific plays in my head for a specific line, I would see it first. Often, you know, just a couple takes. You know, the jump off point was realising that to me, Marv Albert, compared to other sports broadcasters, he brought that extra energy, as Kevin Harlan does now. And I knew that I wanted to emulate that. But somehow along the way, it just simply became me. I've also been a guy who played basketball my whole life. And like, every kid in the backyard, I would always call it out, “Kitzrow with three seconds left - two, one from the corner, he gets it, they win!”. You know, so just yelling, screaming. Every kid's done it, anyone who's ever played sports has called the play, the home run, you know, the play at the plate. So that was no different than just being a kid playing.
TIM KITZROW: Basically, we were just trying to capture the sound of the NBA on NBC Game of the Week, because that's really where we got our basketball back then. And that person happened to be Marv Albert. So if you turn on telecasts, and you just start writing down lines that you hear a lot, you know, you'll get the whole NBA Jam script; “REJECTED!”, “HE’S HEATING UP!”, “HE’S ON FIRE!”. That was Vinnie Johnson, “The Microwave” from the Detroit Pistons, you know, they were always playing The Bulls and that was always the Game of the Week when The Bulls played. And I translated it, you know, took what he had, which is that high energy, high end, top of his register - higher than my voice, you know, I've a deeper voice. But, “Marv is always way up high!” So I would, you know, “FROM DOWNTOWN!”. So that's where I kind of got that timbre, that tone that NBA Jam had, based off of what I heard, and then just making it my own.
JAMES PARKINSON: NBA Jam was the first video game that Tim ever worked on, but back in 1992, he had no idea just how much a few hours in the recording booth would shape his voice acting career.
JAMES PARKINSON: I’m James Parkinson. From Lawson Media, this is Gameplay, a show about video games and the virtual worlds that power culture and community.
JAMES PARKINSON: Tim Kitzrow’s path to voice work for video games was accidental, but ever since he was young he’s had a passion for creative fields, like acting, improv and music.
TIM KITZROW: I was fortunate to have a good background, with my dad being in charge of the audiovisual department at a school, where he was a teacher, and he would bring home movies on the movie projector. And we watched the Marx Brothers and Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin. So all the great classic comedy, physical comedy I loved. And then when Monty Python came along, I was just knocked over, it was you know, they were the Beatles of comedy, and just could not get enough of those guys. And that was really the start of it. Then Second City - SCTV, the Canadian TV show was another huge influence; John Jandy Joe Flaherty, Eugene Levy, all those great people. So I was really hardcore into that style of comedy and improv.
TIM KITZROW: I was one of seven children and all was a big ham and entertainer in the family. And the goal was to get someone to spit milk through their nose at dinner. Same thing in school, just loved horsing around, got involved with theater very early. And decided I would - with watching SCTV, that I would get my own video camera which at the time was a Betamax for $1700 and start making my own comedy videos, and got all kinds of outfits from thrift stores and played multiple characters, lots of physical comedy with my brother. So it was always going, on-going, along with playing drums in both high school, college after college, always had a band going so yeah, just kind of a natural progression of loving creativity on any level,
JAMES PARKINSON: Tim attended Purchase College to study acting, a university that’s seen its fair share of famous graduates.
TIM KITZROW: My roommate was Stan Tucci. Ving Rhames was in there. So a lot of big names came out of that place, but it was more classically focused training. And I had always enjoyed comedy so much. So I wanted to kind of balance my training and came to Chicago but loved sports, loved improv, had my own improv group, made comedy videos back in the 80s. And made audio recordings, trying to shop them around to radio stations, comedy audio recordings, so I had been kind of grooming myself, without realising it, for the perfect job, which would include acting, voice, writing, etc.
JAMES PARKINSON: Full time gigs were hard to come by though, so like many working actors, Tim was also a waiter in restaurants. But he still found ways to be creative in a completely different industry.
TIM KITZROW: The fun thing is, I wasn't one of those bitter waiters because I actually enjoyed the industry and enjoyed the camaraderie. It's kind of like acting, kind of like the game world, it's an interesting group of creative people who usually wind up in restaurants. I was also, for some reason, very interested in design, because I was part of a lot of restaurants that were actually built from the ground up. And with my theatre background, painting sets, collecting furniture from thrift stores, I had this sense that I could always make a great space. So I started to offer design services and painting services. And that led to me doing a total interior design for a 10,000 foot nightclub, oddly enough, and that went to doing a restaurant that ended up being a Michelin star restaurant. Two or three more restaurants. So I started to do interior design and loved the creativity of putting together a room, hiring artisans, fashioning things out of found items and antique and salvage stores. So, yeah, that was the other balance for my career.
JAMES PARKINSON: Ending up in Chicago, Tim’s career was set to take an unexpected turn, but he found himself in the right place at the right time, just by chasing his many creative interests.
TIM KITZROW: I was pursuing acting in Chicago, New York and LA, various different places in the late 70s, early 80s, and wound up here in Chicago to attend Second City, to go to their training center. And in the meantime, I was auditioning for acting roles, commercial roles, etc, and had some friends that would get together on the weekend and I played drums for them and a couple of guys in the band worked at Midway Bally/Williams, were responsible for putting sound in the games, audio for pinball games. So I was hired to do Mr. Howell from Gilligan's Island, and did that and went on to do about 15 other pinball games, so I was kind of their voice at their studio.
JAMES PARKINSON: Midway’s parent company, Bally, merged their pinball division with Midway in 1982, before this new division was purchased by Williams Electronics in 1988. And although Midway had been making arcade games throughout the 70s and 80s, it was a world that Tim didn’t know much about. He’d played some pinball and other mechanical arcade games, but that was about it.
TIM KITZROW: I had no idea. I had no idea what was out there, what to expect, what the industry was all about. So I was busy doing my own thing, pursuing acting, pursuing music, just living my life. Growing up there was no there were no you know, video games as a part of my childhood and adolescent memories. So I really had no idea what I was doing, getting into that business. I knew that I loved playing pinball. But pinball, fifteen games later, I still didn’t know much about the industry, I still couldn't play, worth a lick. It was just a fun, extra gig for extra money, extra beer money. So you know, going in and doing, you know, working for $50 an hour to do Gilligan's Island, I did the Twilight Zone, Attack from Mars, The Shadow, World Cup Soccer. It was just going in and having fun. And actually, this time I was getting paid for it, instead of sitting around having a beer, you know, you know, horsing around with friends it was, it was the way you know, musicians fall into good gigs. If you're a good musician, like jamming, you play with whoever's playing and you play with good people. And fortunately for me, I didn't set out as I've got to make, well, first of all, maybe unfortunately, I didn't set out saying, “I've got to make money at this”, it was just extra money and fun. So I didn't take it seriously as a career. It was just something in the meantime, till I landed, the next thing or the bigger thing or the acting thing. And of course the way the world works, sometimes you know, you have one plan and then it goes another way.
JAMES PARKINSON: When Midway started developing NBA Jam and needed a commentator, Tim was the first choice, as their go-to voice actor. Jon Hey was the Composer and Sound Designer on NBA Jam, and wrote the script, with approval from the game’s Lead Designer, Mark Turmell.
TIM KITZROW: I used to just get regular calls. Because every you know, every couple of months, there was a new pinball game. It's like, let's, let's go to Tim. And so this felt no different to me. Jon Hey called me and said, hey, we've got this new basketball game, you know, would you like to do it? What a wonderful thing! I've auditioned for so many years, you know, you know, hundreds and hundreds of voiceover auditions, you know, national commercials, everything else, you know. To have someone say, “hey, would you like to do this job? Because we like you”. That was just a wonderful thing. And of course I said yes. And I didn't even realise how it all came about, and I've learned a lot of back history. And you know, looking back to see what a huge game that was like, how cool is that? That I just thought, “oh, good, I got another gig, I get to work next week”, “oh, it's not pinball? It's video? Okay, cool”, “Basketball? I love basketball. Okay, cool. You know, I'll be fine with this. I love this”.
JAMES PARKINSON: The recording studio at Midway was known as the “meat locker”. And it was nothing more than a five-foot by five-foot vocal booth, tucked away in the pinball factory.
TIM KITZROW: I mean, the whole studio, as I said was just kind of an afterthought. They had two buildings, one where the video game offices were for Mark Turmell and those guys. And their only recording studio at that time, because up to that point, they were just doing pinball games, was in the back of a pinball factory. So it was like the size of a football field. There'd be hundreds of games and workers and noise and sound. Then you go to this back darkly, you know, scummy looking hallway and a couple little rooms with no windows and drop ceilings. It was kind of a depressing little place, but it was cosy. It was like our little world, it was just the sound guys. And there was this thing that kind of looks like a big meat locker, you know, not much bigger than a household, giant refrigerator, and a little window for me to see Jon. But you know what, that's so cool. Like, that was the early days and it was a very comforting feeling, like, when I got in that booth, it was my booth. And, you know, I've been to sessions in state of the art, million dollar studios since, and gigantic rooms and ten people out behind the window. And you know, anything's fine, you know, I've seen it all. But that is actually, like, my rosebud of the recording industry. Like, just my guy, Jon and me, a meat locker. And I had a poster of Scottie Pippen, I remember for one of the versions, probably for Showtime, dunking over Karl Malone. So it was just like me, I would have a, you know, piece of inspiration there to look at, you know, I would always try to channel the game, I would always be seeing the game in my head, as I called it. Yeah, it was great memories. So although it was kind of dingy and dark and small, and everything else, it was home. And you know, it's where some of the best best work was ever done.
JAMES PARKINSON: Because the game’s software didn’t have room for large audio files, the commentary script had to be short, but that also suited the fast pace of the gameplay. And the recording sessions only spanned about 20 hours.
TIM KITZROW: Sounds about right. And for most of those things I was probably about 20 minutes away from the studio. And I was just so used to, you know, jump in the car, running over there, hour here, hour there for pinball games. So it was, what I remember was kind of the same thing, you know, we’d do two hours today or three hours that day, it was just back and forth for a period of a few weeks.
JAMES PARKINSON: And compared to the dialogue for most modern sports games, Tim mostly had to voice one-liners, with a few variations of things like player names.
TIM KITZROW: NBA Jam had three: Pippen, Pippen!, PIPPEN!!
JAMES PARKINSON: So where did that iconic line, “Boomshakalaka” come from? Well, legend has it, it was suggested by John Cartlon, one of the game’s artists. He’d been listening to the funk group, Sly and the Family Stone, and one particular line in some backing vocals was stuck in his head.
TIM KITZROW: The story is that John Carlton was listening to Sly and the Family Stone, and they were singing I Want To Take You Higher, and there's a little chorus in there where they go, “boo, shaka laka, boo shaka laka, I want to take you higher!”. But they were just like, “boo, shaka laka laka, boo shaka laka laka”. They weren't saying, “Boomshakalaka”. They were saying, “boo shaka laka laka, boo shaka laka boo shaka - whatever. So he just said, he goes, “hey, Jon, tell Tim to say ‘Boomshakalaka’”. Once again, this is the story that I heard, I'm there, but I don't remember it. But I do remember, vaguely, Jon just saying to me, “say boomshakalaka”. And I just said, “what does that mean?”. “I don't know, just say it”. And I went, “Boomshakalaka”, “woah...Boomshakalaka!”. He went, “yeah, that’s probably good. Alright, moving on.” That’s it, that’s it.
JAMES PARKINSON: Although he didn’t know it at the time, those few quick takes would go on to become one of the most recognised sounds in the arcades, and Tim emerged as the voice of Midway sports games. That’s next, on Gameplay.
JAMES PARKINSON: Tim Kitzow wasn’t the kind of guy to hang out in arcades. But when he heard that people were excited about NBA Jam, he wanted to check it out for himself.
TIM KITZROW: And that was like, you know, this moment where I went “wow, this is something”. This is like the equivalent of being a group that hears their song on the radio for the first time. It's like, this is a hit, and I got kind of charged. And I'm watching and I'm thinking, funny thing is, no one knows I'm, you know, the star, the voice, the actor of the show. It was kind of weird, but it was kind of cool to just be like the invisible man. But I couldn't resist sometimes, just by accident, I didn't think about it. But I'm watching and I would start to say like, “rejected!”, “Boom Shaka laka!” - someone turned around and went, “hey, man, you sound like the dude in the game”. I go, “dude, I am the dude!”. I always got a kick out of that because people, like, scratch their head like, “was that Santa Claus? Was it really Santa Claus? How could that be the guy in the game?”. And they have the fun, and you know, of course, I open up my mouth. And then it’s like, “it is, it is you!”.
JAMES PARKINSON: When Tim entered the video game industry, he was just enjoying the ride and the extra cash on the side. But when it became clear that NBA Jam was a billion dollar hit, he started thinking differently about his approach to the work.
TIM KITZROW: I was out at Midway, in their lunch room, and there was an article on the board. You know, just like a Xerox article that said, “NBA Jam breaks all records, makes a billion dollars in quarters first year. And I just said, “who wrote this? This is funny”. I just was absolutely convinced it was someone just having some fun, to kind of prop up the team and, you know, give them some confidence. Like yeah, NBA Jam is a great game but I had no idea in reality that the game made a billion dollars. And that was the moment my brain went, “wait a minute, I made $900. What?”.
TIM KITZROW: The fun thing is, that back then it was just literally all fun and games and as my career went on, it became like this kind of test of wills, as far as you know, a lot of business things, money things, because people in the voiceover industry have never, you know, been paid and protected the same way actors, Screen Actors Guild union actors are. I wasn't a member of the Union back then. So that was a kind of tough part to reconcile that there was a lot of business stuff, as I kind of grew up in the business to learn that, you know, I've got to fight to make a living here, because suddenly it turned into my living.
JAMES PARKINSON: Following NBA Jam’s original arcade release in 1993, and it’s follow-up Tournament Edition in ‘94, Acclaim Entertainment acquired exclusive rights. Off the back of NBA Jam, Tim went on to become the voice of other Midway sports franchises, like NFL Blitz, NHL Hitz and MLB Slugfest.
NFL Blitz Game Audio: “MIDWAY PRESENTS, NFL BLITZ!”
TIM KITZROW: And so I realised at a certain point, like, I was more successful doing this, and I had more power, more creativity.
NHL Hitz Game Audio: “Welcome to Boston! Take out your two front teeth and let’s do this!”
TIM KITZROW: You know, I wasn't going into a room of 20 people who looked like me, to do a Bud Light beer commercial or a cheesy sitcom audition or an extra part in a movie. This was people saying, “we want Tim, because Tim delivers the goods”.
MLB Slugfest Game Audio:
Tim: “AND WELCOME TO MLB SLUGFEST 20-03! Hi everybody, Tim Kitzrow here with you, along with my partner Jimmy Shorts. And this is going to be a good match-up today.”
Jimmy: “Oh, the last time these two teams went at it, there were fireworks, and I love it when the stadium is filled with fireworks after a homerun, Timmy.”
Tim: “And now sit back, it’s time to play ball!”
TIM KITZROW: It wasn't until toward the end, that I started to get real money at Midway because I also was writing the scripts, beginning with NFL Blitz. I would do the majority, especially all of my material, the colour stuff. You know, the technical stuff, the writers would take care of. With Slugfest, I wrote all the creative colour commentary, I was the one who suggested bringing in Kevin Matthews to do Jimmy Shorts, a great comedian here, and he had this great alter ego voice, Jimmy Shorts. So that was actually the most exciting part of my career. I was not only making really good money, I was writing and basically in charge of the content. It was like being, you know, Seth MacFarlane, or whoever from the Simpsons. Like, “here's the world, now paint it”. You know, because Slugfest was going to be a wild, over-the-top game, but where are they going to go with hiring someone? You know, are they going to get a local TV broadcaster, are they going to get a national sportscaster? It wouldn't fit, because the game was bigger, crazier, over-the-top. And so luckily, once again, Mark Turmell said, “this is yours. And we don't know what it's going to sound like, we know what it's going to look like”. So I was given the opportunity to basically create the whole world. That was, to me, that's the biggest success. You know, the money is always, to me, a separate issue. You always fight in the creative world, defining success. Is it money, is it fame? For me, it starts out with creative satisfaction. So I did at that moment, at least, you know, have all those worlds together, making good money, very creative, very satisfied, and it was a critical and commercial success.
JAMES PARKINSON: Tim’s last performance for MLB Slugfest came in 2006. And for Tim, the work began to dry up, as Midway was having some financial trouble. He was contracted to work on a few more games but they never eventuated.
TIM KITZROW: I don't remember the exact day when like, when it all ended, you know. I'd done my last Slugfest game, I was making good money, I was supposed to do a few more, and it ended. And I’d just bought my first condo, you know, got out of the restaurant business. And then I'm like, “I gotta go back to the restaurant business”, you know. So there was a dry period because arcade games, especially, had basically died, everything was sim games and home games. So I was kind of left out in the cold. So it was kind of hard to reinvent myself. And then I was working at Smith and Wollensky Steakhouse, and I never wanted to talk about what I did, but you know, a couple of guys found out. “Oh, wow, that's cool. Like, wow, so what other games do you do?”. And I had that moment of like, “I'm out of work”. I'm one of those guys who had a hit TV show or a big song on the radio, and it had its moment in pop culture, and my 15 minutes are up and here we go. Here's real life again.
JAMES PARKINSON: By 2009, Midway had filed for bankruptcy protection and eventually sold off its assets to Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment. With Acclaim also out of business since 2004, the rights for NBA Jam ended up in the hands of EA Sports. And with a remake on the cards, Tim soon found himself back behind the microphone. A member of the EA team had found Tim on Facebook, and they wanted the original voice of NBA Jam for their game.
TIM KITZROW: I thought that the industry was over for me and I get this call, “Is this Tim Kitzrow?”. I was like, “yeah”. They’re like, “Hi, this is Jenny from EA Sports. I was wondering if you'd like to make another NBA Jam”. And I just, you know, felt like I was being pranked or something and didn't quite know what to think. And she said, “yeah”, “well tell me what your rates are, and bla bla bla bla”. And I ran over it in my head. And I was thinking, well, they can't make another NBA Jam because - what did I think? Well, because arcades are dead. They do all sim games, and they're EA Sports. I didn't even know that they'd bought you know, certainly, I didn't know that they'd bought the title from all the Midway sports titles, whatever. So I thought that she was actually calling me to maybe do a cameo, basically, like a voice in a sim game, a referee or a part. But I didn't think it was actually NBA Jam, and actually the role of the announcer for a franchise - any franchise, let alone NBA Jam.
JAMES PARKINSON: But next thing he knew, Tim was on a plane to Vancouver, getting picked from the airport in a limo, and being greeted by employees at EA Sports HQ. Coming from working double shifts at a restaurant, 5 days a week, Tim was only too happy to meet them.
TIM KITZROW: And the producer says, “hey, I hope you wouldn't mind, Tim. But before we go into the recording studio, could you do me a favour? You know, the guys on the team are just so excited, you being here. Can you take time to just talk to them, or you know, meet them?” And went, “yeah, are you kidding me?”. And there are, like, 25 people with their cameras, their Sharpies, lined up, waiting to shake my hand, to take a picture, have me sign their thing. I tell you, I was so moved, you know, these guys thinking I'm something. I'm thinking like, you know, this is ridiculous, you know, I'm just crawling out, back from the grave. And I was just so floored, you know, that there was that kind of respect. And that's the first time it hit me, like “oh, I did something that wasn't just a popular game, but it meant something to people.”
JAMES PARKINSON: Tim says that for this gig he was actually making less money than the peak of his career at Midway, but this time, he had even greater creative freedom.
TIM KITZROW: It was absolutely start from scratch, brand new. And I wrote 100% of the creative colour work in it, you know, was me. And there were just maybe, you know, some guys filled in a few basic things that had to be said, and obviously printing up the list of names and teams. But I wrote the whole script and that's where, you know, when people talk about the success of the first game, I really feel sometimes, like all I was doing is parodying what we heard on TV. This time it was like, “okay, now I've got my persona from NFL Blitz, from Slugfest. I'm not just a realistic commentator, announcer, I'm Tim Kitzrow, Mr. Boomshakalaka, so I'm going to have fun with it. So like you know, “the block doctor is in and will see you now!”, “like my wife always says, no tonight!”. Or you know, or, “from the corner, and like rummaging through his girlfriend's top dresser drawer, he finds nothing but nylon. Kaboom!”. You know, it was coming up with, “oh, I love it when you call me big blocker!”, “What's my favorite time of year? Blocktoberfest! - Beers are on me!”. You know? That's when it became me, like my persona, 100%. I wasn't imitating Marv anymore. I wasn't just doing lines that were basically for NBA Jam, for all intents and purposes, was a sim game. It wasn't supposed to be funny. It was big sounding because it was, you know, an over-the-top arcade game, but there were no ridiculous lines in it. You know like, “ugly shot, can't buy a bucket”, those were all real lines that were used. So it wasn’t until Blitz, the other games and the EA Sports version, where I became the guy that, not only am I writing the script but I’m like a director saying, “here’s what I envision for this line”.
NBA Jam Game Audio: “Somebody should put a straight jacket on this guy! Oh snap!”.
JAMES PARKINSON: Having honed his persona over many years and seeing the value of his contribution to the NBA Jam franchise, Tim took on a new-found control over his career. He started working conventions, appearing on TV, and producing special video packages for NBA teams, like the Golden State Warriors. He even led an event with LA Clippers for the game’s 25th Anniversary in 2018, which included being the PA announcer for an actual NBA game.
NBA TV Broadcast:
Host: “You know this voice right here, because if you’ve got that game, you hear this voice all the time. That’s Tim Kitzow. He is the original voice from NBA Jam, he is Mr Boomshakalaka himself. And he is going to be a PA announcer on NBA Jam day, and you’re going to be doing some of the highlights and everything. 25 years later, is it still surprising that this game still resonates with so many people?”
Tim: “Not really. This was a $2 billion franchise - is a $2 billion franchise. Came out in ‘93, the golden age of video games, and then set the gold standard.”
TIM KITZROW: They saw the value in 25 years of nostalgia. And the success of that, I was interviewed by ESPN, they did a feature article. Stayed on their front page for two weeks, on their online site. And then ESPN Sportscenter called me. They wanted me to do commercials for the last game of that season. And they ran a week of commercials that I recorded, and then they spliced together, with all of the different improv stuff that I gave them, they did the highlights for the last day, on Sportscentre with Neil and Stan. So there’s like the most rewarding moment, like full circle from a few years back, working the doubles in the restaurant, to hustling. And all that stuff was, I didn’t have a company, I didn’t have an agent who was going out and saying “hey, you gotta make this happen, it’s the 25th anniversary”.
TIM KITZROW: So I thought, well, “I've got to remind them, I'm still here and I can make your product better”. So that's why I started cold-calling NBA teams. All this stuff happens because I envision what I want to do, and I go out and do it, and I don't feel like I'm ever - nothing's beneath me, as far as the hustle. If you're, you know, a musician, actor, whatever, you're always hustling for the next gig. So that's that's what I learned, never give up and always, always keep hustling.
Warriors Promo Video: “For all you Dub Nation gold diggers and trophy hunters, meet your new sugar daddies and world champs! The Warriors have won back the trophy and put the ‘gold’ back in Golden State Warriors, where it belongs! This is Tim Kitzrow saying see you next year! Boomshakalaka!”
TIM KITZROW: You know, my brand of Mr. Boomshakalaka is to entertain NBA fans, and it's worked. So hopefully, that for me is that step that takes me to the next level, because it's brought a lot of attention. You know, people love seeing that because they're just so used to seeing the same kind of highlights. So what can I do to give you something you haven't seen before?
TIM KITZROW: “What does three-time champ Steph Curry have for breakfast? Snap! Crackle! And Pop! Make it a part of your balanced NBA diet!”
TIM KITZROW: And then you have people who go, “oh, that's the NBA Jam guy”, you know, ‘cause of course i sprinkle in a little, “he's on fire”!, “Kaboom!”, “Boomshakalaka!”. You’ve got to give him the oldies, but now you got the new material, so it's like a stand up comic. I’m not just - if I ran out there, did my Top 10 from the original NBA Jam, people would be like, “yeah, whatever dude, who's next?”, you know, “what else have you got?”. My job is to entertain, that's the reason I've been doing this so long, because I'm not just a guy reading a script. You can't just hire any guy to just sit behind the microphone and go, “okay, read it”, you know, where's the content? Who's writing the content, you know? And now the content is all mine, so anything you hear, that's that's my brand, that's my style.
JAMES PARKINSON: It’s been over a decade since EA’s NBA Jam, and we still haven’t seen a new edition hit consoles. There were rumours of another release to coincide with the 25th anniversary, but that came and went with no word from EA Sports, and it felt like a huge missed opportunity. With the original game getting a revival, thanks to Arcade1Up’s special edition cabinet’s, that could spark EA back into action in the future, and Tim Kitzrow would certainly love to be involved again. He’s experienced all the highs and lows over his acting career, and has gone on to do a variety of sports games - most recently, Mutant Football League in 2018. But NBA Jam is the game that just keeps on giving.
TIM KITZROW: You know, people around the world still care, still have a sweet spot for NBA Jam, and my contribution for it is appreciated by a lot of people, and that's really good stuff. You know, after all these years, as I said, money is always one thing, but it's the fact that people actually genuinely enjoy what I did and I have some good memories. So I consider myself one of the luckiest people on Earth, you know, to be in the right place at the right time, the right city. And it turned out that all my different talents and passions kind of came together. So a very, very lucky moment in my life.
JAMES PARKINSON: Thanks so much to Tim Kitzrow for sharing his story, and if you want your own personalised recording from Tim, you can commission him to do one for you. Whether it’s a birthday greeting for an NBA Jam fan in your life, a voicemail, whatever, you can get that at whosaidwhatnow.com.
JAMES PARKINSON: The song you’re hearing is called, what else? - “Boom Shaka Laka", from the NBA Jam-inspired album of the same name, courtesy of BoomBaptist. You can grab it on Bandcamp, just tap the link in the episode description or on our website, gameplay.co.
JAMES PARKINSON: Gameplay is a production of Lawson Media. This episode was written and produced by me, James Parkinson.
JAMES PARKINSON: The Gameplay theme was composed by Breakmaster Cylinder, our artwork is by Keegan Sanford, and additional music from Epidemic Sound and Breakmaster Cylinder.JAMES PARKINSON: You can follow the show on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook at ‘gameplaypodcast’. We also have a wonderful Discord community, so come and join us. I’d love to see you there. And if you’d like an ad-free feed of the show, become a Gameplay Member and help us to make the podcast sustainable. You’ll find all the links, plus episode transcripts and further reading on our website, gameplay.co. Thanks for listening.
• Get a custom voicemail or birthday greeting from Tim Kitzow at whosaidwhatnow.com!
• Learn more about Tim at timkitzrow.com
• NBA Jam (the book), by Reyan Ali
• Album: Boom Shakalaka by BoomBaptist