NBA on VHS, DVD and more

When VHS was King

My golden age of NBA, watching MJ on VHS

Remember the 1990’s? I do – fondly. In 1992, I was first made aware of a company named PonTel. What’s this got to do with basketball and the NBA you ask? Well, plenty. This company has been producing officially licensed NBA Game Videos since 1980! They were (obviously) VHS-based until the advent of DVD.

A friend of mine was a regular subscriber to PonTel – each week, for an entire season, he’d receive two VHS cassettes filled with games of his choosing; in this case (1992), the Portland Trailblazers. A fine choice indeed, given they made the NBA Finals that year, ultimately losing to the might of Michael Jordan and his Chicago Bulls.

For some inexplicable reason, it took until the 1996 NBA season – the Bulls’ record-setting jaunt – for me to finally subscribe to PonTel. Here in Australia, we were starved of NBA on free-to-air TV. We were lucky to see one game per week, albeit in edited form. Sure, Pay TV was finally emerging, but even then, the coverage we received paled into insignificance, compared to that afforded to American basketball fans.

Each week, I would head to the post office, highly anticipating the arrival of my two VHS cassettes; filled with NBA games and the most recent NBA Action episode from the previous week. Taking into account that the delivery of said games varied between 3 to 5 business days, PonTel were extremely efficient – in 1996, for me to be able to watch (weekly) around 7-8 hours of NBA footage, less than 1-2 weeks old, was amazing. The internet was in its formative days at the time; PonTel was my YouTube of today…and more.

How did you first get into following the NBA? I’d love to know…please add your comments below.

Click here for the back story to my adoration of Jordan and the NBA – dating back to 1989.

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Adam Ryan

Interviews with NBA-related personalities at In all Airness - Jordan-era NBA podcast
Podcaster and basketball-obsessive, Adam Ryan - authority on Michael Jordan | NBA history; has spent 25 years absorbing the NBA.

13 thoughts on “NBA on VHS, DVD and more

  1. Pingback: Podcast origins - a year in review • In all Airness

  2. hey guys, i have some PonTel VHS Basketball videos to sell that belonged to my ex husband. Theyre Michael Jordan/Chicago bulls 95/96 96/97 NBA games. Would any of you know of any sites that i could put them on? ive tried ebay but i think theyd be better on a fan site. Ive looked myself but dont really kno

  3. Pretty simple answer for me – my current NBA obsession is due solely to your addiction to MJ & the Bulls. It’s possible I would have grown to love basketball/NBA anyway – but really, there was no choice with you in the household. Having said that, I wouldn’t change it for the world. Watching Peter Gee on ABC (Australia), at about 2am with highlights of an NBA game from about a week before. I also recall you cutting out the NBA Scores from the newspaper and sticking them into a scrapbook of some description. Or was it your school diary? Either way, it was gold mate! There will never be anything better than 1990’s NBA..

    • Love it! I used to cut out the printed NBA standings in the newspaper every couple of days and glue the into my school diary – that also reminds me, I had a W/L tally on the back of my wooden ruler from 1990-1992 – pre-internet, still found ways to connect with MJ / Bulls…I was a total geek for it, but to this day, wouldn’t change anything either!

  4. I got into the NBA by my father. My name is Jordan so I guess it was just destiny. Being born in 1992 it was pretty much the height of the Michael Jordan mania and the Olympics being that summer just added to the craze. I remember growing up watching the highlight videos such as Come Fly With Me, Airtime etc. The first game I ever watched that my dad recorded was a 48 Point playoff game against the Hornets in 1995. From then on I was hooked and wanted to watch EVERY game possible. By the way, I was only 4 years old. I would try to stay up anytime a Bulls game was on. I still have some fond memories of the 96-97 and 97-98 season. For years I’ve always dreamed about seeing many other games prior to my dad recording them. I had seen stat lines for 50 plus point games and important playoff games. Then finally on YouTube I got to see highlights of many games. I was amazed and so excited because I knew they must be available somewhere. Soon after that I put in many different searches in Google and found several websites. Eventually I began trading with people and a personal collection that was a little under 300 games quickly flourished to about 900.

        • Fantastic Jordan! What did you think of Adam’s interview with Tom Dore? I thought it offered up some insight that I for one have never heard before, such as the story about MJ changing his number back to #23 before that Orlando playoffs game. Great stuff – don’t think you can get this stuff anywhere else online. From what I hear, the awesome guests are going to continue!

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