When I heard about little Appalachian State’s college football upset victory over Michigan, the first thing that came to my mind was El Nino. No, not the global coupled ocean-atmosphere phenomenon. I’m talking about the 7-foot, 10-inch baller my brother Jeremy and I created in "NBA Live ’97" for the Sony Playstation.
Not satisfied with the performance of Houston Rockets superstar center Hakeem Olajuwon, Jeremy and I wanted to create the ultimate basketball machine to complement our starting lineup of forwards Charles Barkley, Clyde Drexler and guards Mario Elie and Eddie Johnson. We gave Nino the maximum height (7-10) and max weight (300-something, my memory fails me), along with maxed-out 99s for all of his attributes.
To get an idea of what El Nino looked like, he was an African-American gentleman with short, blonde hair and one crazy blonde beard. He wore the No. 97, and this was back when the Rockets had those weird-looking navy blue jerseys with the pinstripes and growling face on the rocket logo.
For the college portion of his profile, I chose Appalachian State for two reasons. 1. It was close to the top of the alphabet, so I didn’t have to scroll too far, and 2. For some reason the word "Appalachian" reminded me of "Himalayas," which made me think of snow and snow monsters, like in the "Duck Tales" Nintendo game (This makes sense to precisely zero of you, but it made sense to me as a 15-, 16-year-old). And Nino was indeed a monster. He was simply unstoppable.
Dude could dunk on anyone AND shoot long-range 3-pointers. Shortly after his arrival in Houston, the Rockets’ original starting five was replaced by created players like me and my three brothers.
Nino made several stops during his NBA career. But he had such a fierce loyalty to his teammates, with each demand to be moved to a new city, he insisted the Bellamy 4 go with him. They played for Orlando, New Jersey, New York, Milwaukee, Boston, Chicago, the Los Angeles Lakers and finally Minnesota.
I wish I had an existing photo of El Nino to post, but I think I sold that game to Funcoland like eight years ago.