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The Sounds of the NBA: 10 Iconic Songs That Define the Pop Basketball League

Tonight at the Pepsi Center in Denver, as per tradition we start again in the winners’ field, the first siren of the NBA season will sound which will mark the start of the basketball championship that decides the team World Champion; far be it from us to get into controversy – even if Noah Lyles and Mr Popovich might be right – let’s deal with music and songs.

The NBA wasn’t always this pop. It has become so over time thanks, among others, to Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan – two superstars who exported the American championship, making it a global phenomenon – and thanks to songs iconic. The photo of Jordan with headphones on the Chicago Bulls bus is famous, as is the music that accompanied his entrance onto the field with the rest of the team. We decided to start right there, from the instrumental which is now to all intents and purposes the ideal leitmotif of every basketball pre-match.

Here are 10 songs (+ the Intro) that tell the story of the NBA, the most pop basketball league in the world.

The Alan Parson Project – Sirius (1982)

A minute and fifty-five seconds that have entered the imagination of any basketball fan. The title of the opening of the English band’s sixth album – an instrumental song that introduces and fades into the single Eye in the Sky – he probably won’t tell you anything. However, it only takes a few moments to recognize it. Published in the 1980s, its story changed in the following decade, when for six seasons it became the background music for the entrance onto the field of the legendary Chicago Bulls of Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman. The perfect start to any journey into the world of the NBA.

Kurtis Blow – Basketball (1984)

That Kurtis Blow was ahead of his time and was one of the first to make rap a successful commercial genre is well established. But did you know that he was also the first to create a fantasy basketball team, when fantasy football didn’t even exist yet? In the song Basketball, Kurtis creates his own ideal team: Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Bernard King and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. The fifth? You just have to choose between all the other nominated superstars.


Red Hot Chili Peppers – Magic Johnson (1989)

We have long been accustomed to seeing Flea and Chad Smith on the sidelines of the Staples Center in Los Angeles (now Crypto Arena) cheering on the LA Lakers. Magic Johnson is dedicated to the famous number 32 of the yellow and blue team: an alternative funk song with dizzying rhythms on which Anthony Kiedis raps and praises his idol. We offer you an incredible live version of the song contained in the album Mother’s Milkthe first with Chad Smith and John Frusciante in the band.

Micheal Jackson – Jam (1991)

Basketball and dance – The Last Dance does it tell you anything? – an inseparable combination and a perfect metaphor. Just think of the intoxicating movements of Allen Iverson or the dunks of Vince Carter, Dominique Wilkins and Zach LaVine. In the video clip of Jam the two symbols of pop culture of the 90s play basketball together: on the one hand Michael Jackson, the King of pop and dance, on the other Michael Jordan, the basketball phenomenon, author of one of the most famous dunks in history.

R. Kelly – I Believe I Can Fly (1996)

1996 is the year in which the NBA phenomenon finally explodes throughout the world. The credit goes to Joe Pytka’s film Space Jam which united the Looney Tunes to the universe – in every sense – of basketball. Bugs Bunny and Michael Jordan, two superstars in their field, one next to the other. It was included in the soundtrack I Believe I Can Fly:. A historic song, winner of 3 Grammy Awards in 1998, which doesn’t need much introduction.

Public Enemy feat. Stephen Stills – He Got Game (1998)

When you think of basketball, the first director that comes to mind is certainly Spike Lee. A fan of the New York Knicks and a great fan of basketball to which he dedicated many of his films, in 1998 he came out with He Got Gamehis twelfth feature film. The film tells the story of 18-year-old Jesus Shuttlesworth – played by Ray Allen – and his father Jack (Denzel Washington). The soundtrack was composed by Public Enemy and contains this hit.

Macklemore x Ryan Lewis – Wing$ (2011)

NBA is not only synonymous with songs and sports, but over time it has become an example of marketing: the Nike brand has been a partner of the championship for a long time and, also in this case, at the beginning there was the hand of Michael Jordan and of his Air Max. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis anticipate record-breaking debut in 2011 The Heist with a semi-autobiographical single that recounts the American rapper’s adolescent (consumerist) passion for everything related to basketball. In 2013 Wing$ she was chosen for the All-Star Game commercials that same year.

Kendrick Lamar – Black Boy Fly (2012)

In the deluxe edition of his album good kid, m.A.A.d City Kendrick Lamar includes a song in the tracklist that is somehow connected to the world of the NBA. Black Boy Fly is dedicated to two friends from the same Compton neighborhood as him who achieved success. It’s about The Game and the basketball player Arron Afflalo. The latter played for over 10 years (from 2007 to 2018) in the NBA.

Post Malone – White Iverson (2016)

White Iverson is Post Malone’s first single from his debut album Stoney. A trap song full of metaphors inspired by the world of the NBA that marks the beginning of the successful career of the Syracuse singer-songwriter. Why Allen Iverson? Well, Post Malone considers him stronger than Michael Jordan.

Big Sean feat. Lil Wayne – Don Life (2020)

The ninth collaboration between the two rappers apparently has nothing to do with the NBA. However, given the great success achieved, in 2020 the song was chosen as the official theme song for the Finals. A final phase that went down in history, not so much for the victory of the Los Angeles Lakers, but for having been played in the so-called “bubble” of Bay Lake inside the Walt Disney World park due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Johnny Marseille – Prime (2023)

We close our playlist with an Italian song, taken from Johnny Marseille’s latest album WE ARE 7. The rapper, as can be seen from the title, has imbued the entire album with metaphors related to basketball and the NBA. We have chosen Primea song in which Kobe Bryant and Alex Caruso are mentioned among others, the latter chosen not only for his own history, but also for his surname which evokes Sicilian suggestions.


2023-10-24 16:17:06
#NBA #songs #story #basketball #championship

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