Pyrotechnics, theatrical montages, epileptic-light shows, aerial stunts, melodramatic music, there’re a lot of histrionics that go into producing an epic NBA introduction sequence. It’s all about the pomp and circumstance, and the fans who’ve been saving up their ducats all month long to go see their favorite team expect (and deserve) a good show. What follows is a brief, and by no means comprehensive, list of what we believe are some of the most entertaining opening acts around the league.
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Will Ferrell Announces the Starting Lineups for a Hornets vs. Bulls Game
I couldn’t stop laughing long enough to write a description for this one, so just click play and enjoy.
10. The Cleveland Cavaliers â€“ 2007 NBA Finals
By far, the most phenomenal thing about this introduction is the actual players who comprised the Cavs’ starting lineup at the time: Daniel “Boobie” Gibson, Sasha Pavlovic, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Drew Gooden, and some other guy you may or may not have heard of. They’re easily one of the worst teams to ever make the NBA Finals, and they were not surprisingly swept by a much more experienced Spurs team.
9. Toronto Raptors â€“ 2005 to 2008
The Raptors had an impressive streak of fun and entertaining intros during the latter half of last decade. The first is essentially a music video for Beyonce‘s “Crazy in Love,” featuring former Raptor Chris Bosh and pre-retirement Jalen Rose (among others). They followed that up with a more traditional highlight montage set to U2‘s “Hello, Hello.” After that, they basically did the same thing, except with Kanye‘s “Stronger.” They follow a simple formula, but hey, it works. Keep it light, keep it fun, keep the music upbeat, set off a few fireworks, and put together a badass highlight reel. End of story.
8. The Orlando Magic â€“ 1995 Finals, 2009 Finals
The song’s official title is “Get Ready for This,” but it’s more recognizable as “Y’all Ready for This?” It’s a cheesy, yet undeniably catchy, techno-pop dance number by some early ’90s Euro-trash group that called themselves 2 Limited. The song only climbed to number 38 on the Billboard Top 100 Chart when it was released in 1991, but it somehow found second life when it inexplicably became associated with professional sports. To this day, it can be heard blaring over the loud speakers in major sporting arenas all around the world. In 1995, the Orlando Magic were ahead of the curve and at least partially responsible for the song’s future global popularity. Through exhaustive scholarly research conducted via Wikipedia, it was also found to have been featured in the 1996 “American family live-action/animated sports comedy film” Space Jam.
The Orlando Magic’s 2009 Finals introduction was nothing if not audacious (and audaciously derivative). First, they cribbed the “Lux Aeterna” theme song that the Celtics used the year before. Then, they forced a visibly-terrified dance squad to repel from the rafters, some of whom were outfitted in Superman costumes (“Superman” being the nickname Dwight Howard famously co-opted from former Magic star Shaquille O’Neal). And to cap it all off, their own mascot “Stuff the Magic Dragon” repelled down to center court from the rafters (in homage to the Sonics mascot “Squatch”). It also featured an individual in a checkered suit named “Scotty B,” a self-described DJ, emcee, and martial artist who you can book for your next big event.
7. The San Antonio Spurs â€“ 2005 Finals
“Planet Hell” is a song by the Finnish metal band Nightwish, a somewhat bizarre choice for the Spurs’ introduction sequence to Game 7 of the 2005 NBA Finals, especially considering their normally vanilla-flavored reputation. Nevertheless, Nightwish’s brand of over-the-top, choral/orchestral speed-metal is just the type of jam that gets fans revved up before a big game. The song that followed it? You guessed it. 2 Limited’s “Get Ready for This.”
6. The Houston Rockets â€“ 2009 Playoffs
Major props to the Houston Rockets organization for literally transforming their Jumbotron into a rocket launch. I’m guessing they set some sort of unofficial record for the number of fire code safety violations they racked up during this opening sequence. It’s quite the spectacle.
5. The Seattle Supersonics â€“ 1996 Western Conference Finals (and Finals)
The Glove, The Reign Man, and the rest of the O.G. Lob City crew in their heyday were a sight to behold, and so was this epic introduction sequence at Key Arena in Seattle during the Western Conference Finals that featured Sonics mascot “Squatch” repelling from the rafters down to center court and ring announcer Michael Buffer doing his patented “Let’s Get Ready to Rumble” routine.
4. The New York Knicks â€“ 1994 Finals, 1999 Finals
New York has always been a cultural epicenter, one of the hippest and most stylish cities on the planet, but not even the Knicks were immune to the league-wide trend of awesomely cheesy introduction sequences. We’re talking overly dramatic pop rock, low-budget special effects, and lots and lots of neon. These were the glory days of Pat Riley, Patrick Ewing, John Starks, Charles Oakley et al., but fate ultimately intervened, and their championship aspirations were derailed by superior Bulls and Rockets teams.
1999 was a crazy year. It was the lockout-shortened season, and it was the year that Gregg Popovich, David Robinson, and a fledgling Tim Duncan led their team’s inaugural trip to the NBA Finals. For the Knicks, it was truly a Cinderella season. They eked their way into the last playoff spot but in a remarkable twist became only the second No. 8 seed in league history to knock off a No. 1 seed when they beat the Miami Heat in a best-of-five opening round series. So you can imagine how exciting it was for the Knicks organization, and they clearly wanted a Finals introduction that was worthy of the moment. But in an odd directorial decision, this opening sequence featured tennis legend John McEnroe trying to grab a cab on an inexplicably snowy June afternoon, a cab that transports him to Madison Square Garden via some sort of Tron-like virtual reality machine but not before a quick detour to the top of the Empire State Building.
3. The Detroit Pistons â€“ 1990, 2004
It was 1990 in Motown aka Rock City, and the Bad-Boy Pistons were one of the scrappiest squads ever assembled, so they deserved an equally hard-nosed theme song for their introduction sequence. What they got instead was Europe‘s “The Final Countdown.” GOB Bluth would be proud.
There were so many reasons to root against the Lakers in 2004. The Shaq/Kobe feud was reaching its nadir, and the organization had stacked its roster with one of the most shameless collections of ring-chasing veterans we’ve ever seen. The new-school Pistons, on the other hand, were at the height of their powers â€“ the epitome of team ball, hard work and effort. This was a morality tale — the glitz and glamour of L.A. versus the blue-collar work ethic of the Motor City — and it was a fitting end to the Lakers’ soap opera dynasty. Who better to introduce it than the Pistons’ quirky PA announcer John Mason (with native son Kid Rock‘s “Bawitdaba” blasting in the background).
2. Boston Celtics 2007-2008 Edition
Clint Mansell‘s “Lux Aeterna” (otherwise known as the theme song from Darren Aronofsky‘s Requiem for a Dream) has become something of a pop culture phenomenon, but its connection to the sports world seems fairly odd given its association with the movie’s morbid, borderline-nihilistic look at addiction and the seedy underbelly of drug culture. Nonetheless, Boston fans seemed to eat it up. Bonus: see if you can spot a shape-shifting Brian Scalabrine during the player introductions.
1. The Chicago Bulls â€“ 1990s
What’s left to say about the most iconic introduction in NBA history? When the lights went down in the United Center and the first few bars of the Allan Parsons Project‘s “Sirius” came blaring over the loudspeakers and Bull’s PA announcer Ray Klay roared “Annndddd Nowwwwww…” something magical happened. You were about to watch the best basketball player of all time, in his prime, and arguably one of the greatest teams in league history. The memory of it still gives me goose bumps.
What do you think?
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