Mike Iuzzolino is a retired American professional basketball player who played for the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks for two seasons (1991-93). After his NBA career, Iuzzolino played professionally in Italy and Spain until 2003. While unknown to many, Iuzzolino was featured in the 1993 arcade edition of the popular two-on-two basketball video game NBA Jam. He was born on this day in 1968.
As a 14-year-old basketball fan, I was surprised that Mike Iuzzolino was one of the 54 NBA players selected for the 27 NBA Jam teams. The 1992-93 Dallas Mavericks roster was pretty weak, aside from teammate Derek Harper, but still. I thought getting to play as Iuzzolino in a video game was awesome—and play as him I did, whenever I grew tired of collecting Mortal Kombat fatalities at the old coin-op arcade. As a skinny little white kid who wanted to be good at basketball, I looked to my Mike Iuzzolino basketball card for inspiration. Because somehow this thin, 5′ 10″ Italian-American point guard from Altoona, Pennsylvania (just 40 miles from my dad’s house) had made it to the NBA. I dreamed, “As soon as I get my growth spurt, I’ll be right there with him.” Coincidentally, Iuzzolino also played basketball at Penn State, which was the university I planned to attend (and I did, from 1997-2001). So, what happened to the two of us? Iuzzolino is now Director of Basketball Operations at Canisius College in New York, and I didn’t play competitive basketball beyond 10th grade. Though I did finally hit 5′ 10″, which is really important in the fields of graphic design and web development.