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Issue Date: Vol. 49, No.5, May 2009, Posted On: 6/3/2009

NBA Pinball Turns Playfield Into An Electrifying Court

Nick Montano
pinball, Stern Pinball Inc., Gary Stern, NBA, NBA pinball, coin-op, coin-operated, amusement machine, arcade game

New from Stern Pinball Inc. is NBA, a flipper game designed for basketball and pinball fans alike. The new game began shipping during this year's NBA playoffs, features players from 20 different professional basketball teams and nimbly adapts one of the world's most popular sports into a coin-op game.

Gary Stern, the pinball machine factory's chief executive, observed that "the NBA has tremendous fans who are dedicated and passionate about the game of basketball." He added the new NBA pinball machine allows players to shoot for baskets, score and keep track of both earned basketball and normal pinball points.

NBA pinball is enhanced by several themed mechanical features, including a spinning disk located in the center of the playfield, along with ball traps, drop targets, ramps and diverters, among other widgets.

PHOTO: Basketball neatly lends itself to pinball physics in Stern's new NBA game. A backboard replica (upper left) that holds the ball with a magnet is the playfield's main feature; players can make three different shots, including a free throw in which the ball is launched 12" through the air in the direction of the basket.

The game's central feature is a model of a basketball backboard equipped with a magnet in its center. When a player makes a shot, the magnet holds the ball momentarily and then drops it toward the basket. Players can make three dazzling "pinball-style" shots: a ramp shot off the flippers aimed at the basket; a jump shot when the ball goes up a plastic ramp and circles just below the basket; and a 12" free-throw shot in which the silver ball is launched in the air toward the basket.

Basketball stars from 20 teams liven up the pinball machine's artwork, and give it broad appeal on location and in the home. The Boston Celtics' Kevin Garnett, Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant, Miami Heat's Dwyane Wade and Orlando Magic's Dwight Howard are among the featured players.

Pinball Hall of Fame artist Kevin O'Connor created NBA's artwork and David Thiel produced the sound. Announcing is Tim Kitzrow, who was the broadcast voice of many popular sports videogame titles from Midway Games, including NBA Jam.

O'Conner also created the artwork for NBA Fastbreak, a licensed pinball released in 1997 by Midway under the Bally brand.

For its latest title, Stern Pinball partnered with NBA Properties Inc., the marketing and licensing arm of the National Basketball Association. Information on the new game can be had from Jolly Backer at (708) 786-7039 or jolly.backer@sternpinball.com. The company is based in Melrose Park, IL, and online at sternpinball.com.

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