ESPN debuts new NBA theme track for broadcast

John Tesh

John Tesh, creator of “Roundball Rock”
Picture: Getty Photos

ESPN does an excellent job with its NBA protection. The community has a military of insiders, reporters, analysts, a day by day noon present, as properly a stellar sport broadcast high quality that has lengthy satiated this one excessive schooler who was not pleased to see his beloved NBA on NBC gone perpetually.

However for all that ESPN does accurately, it has by no means fairly discovered the easiest way to introduce NBA video games. They current the NBA Finals on ABC, one of many greatest sporting occasions on this planet, however the theme has all the time felt a bit off. It’s not just like the NFL on Fox, CBS School Soccer, March Insanity, or The Masters. If you hear the beat drop for these occasions it’s equal components nostalgia and temper music. They’re nearly Pavlovian in the way in which that they get sports activities followers prepared for these particular occasions in a matter of seconds.

With the brand new NBA season solely two weeks away, what ESPN has been engaged on within the studio has been revealed — their new NBA theme track. It’s half of a complete new presentation that features a new rating bug that’s a lot smaller, and it’ll establish groups by no matter colour they’re carrying for that individual sport.

You possibly can by no means go incorrect with horns when introducing a sporting occasion. The sharp and daring sound from these devices can snap viewers into sports activities mode. All nationwide broadcasts try to be cool as a way to higher attain their younger viewers, so why not escape the drum machine? The intro music ought to develop on me after some time. I don’t hate it, however I used to be additionally detached to the previous music. That’s as a result of the NBA can wander the earth perpetually and it’ll by no means discover something pretty much as good as John Tesh’s Roundball Rock.

That first Sunday after the football season was over was sad, until the outline of the peacock formed on that old Zenith television, then colors filled in feather by feather as the music gradually builds, and then, boom! Those strings hit and it’s time for Michael Jordan and Patrick Ewing to do battle as the Chicago Bulls take on the New York Knicks.

Tesh advised The Ringer in 2020 that the track got here from a melody he considered in his head whereas in France, he then known as his answering machine in Los Angeles so it might be recorded and he wouldn’t overlook it. He made the demo on a synthesizer, and whereas NBC Sports activities President Dick Ebersol appreciated it, he wished a full orchestra. As a result of hey, Boston Pops, Larry Fowl, why not? Tesh paid for an orchestra out of his personal pocket and would go on to compose a tune as synonymous with the 90s as “Go, go, Energy Rangers.”

Themes have to have a stickiness to them above all else. NBC had a ton on the time. A Completely different World, Cheers, The Tonight Present. Every theme in all probability began taking part in in your head the second you learn the present’s title.

It additionally wasn’t simply the music that made the NBA on NBC really feel epic. It was the storytelling of Marv Albert and Bob Costas in the course of the intro. It wasn’t Brent Musberger and Pat O’Brien being interrupted a number of occasions by the theme and Nineteen Eighties Macintosh graphics that had been within the technique of forming Boston Backyard. Albert and Costas made the video games really feel massive by giving opening monologues that weren’t simply, “Isiah Thomas and his Unhealthy Boy Pistons are in search of revenge, however Magic Johnson isn’t prepared at hand the 80s to the Pistons simply but” On NBC you get “Hakeem Olajuwon’s play has exhausted all superlatives.”

Throughout the 2022 NBA Finals, the intro was simply gamers’ statements to the media laid over no matter beat the manufacturing workforce determined to make use of that week. It was clean and appeared smooth, nevertheless it failed to actually drive up the power for the sport. Mix that with the truth that as an alternative of displaying the in-stadium beginning lineup introductions, ABC spends two to 3 minutes airing promos for Holy Moly, and the remainder of its summer time programming. Sorry, although I nonetheless snicker at Rob Riggle yelling “Shut that child up!” in The Hangover, listening to him make a tacky joke whereas somebody will get knocked within the water throughout a putt isn’t placing me within the temper for championship basketball.

For greater than twenty years this ESPN and NBA partnership has labored out splendidly. It enormously expanded ESPN’s stay occasion portfolio and gave the NBA a relentless presence on the premiere sports activities community in America.

They’ll have all of the gold, however they may by no means be, to us who bear in mind, what Roundball Rock and NBC had been to us NBA followers. I’m certain that retains ESPN and the NBA up at evening as they get sprayed with a firehose of cash. 

Rahul Diyashi
News and travel at your doorstep.

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