Eddie Maisonet is the Editor-In-Chief of The Sportsfan Journal and contributor to SLAM Magazine, Complex’s Sneaker Report and NBC’s The Grio. He loves women who wear big hoop earrings. Follow him on Twitter and on Facebook keep up with more of his shenanigans and tomfoolery.
When I was a youngster watching a big game, I always wanted to make sure that I was in front of the television when the starting lineups were announced. To me, watching the introductions of the two teams preparing to do battle was almost more important than the game itself. This was my life as a young, misguided sports fan adolescent.
Seeing one team get savagely booed to no end while remaining stoic and focused, with the announcer stating each player’s name and school affiliation in a monotone-like fashion, was awesome. What was similarly awesome was seeing the lights go down, hearing the home crowd go crazy and then hearing the announcer amp up and introduce the home team’s starting five like his life depended on it. The home team would be similarly cool and collected, knowing that there was business to tend to but also embracing the emotion from the crowd as well.
No one did it better than the Chicago Bulls, and 20 years ago versus the Phoenix Suns in the NBA Finals serves as a simple but powerful example of how a proper introduction of the starting lineups still gets the goosebumps popping.
First, the Suns are announced. Charles Barkley leads off, and he immediately sets the tone by acting like he’s going to shake the hand of Benny the Bull, then open-hand smacks him in the snout. The man is not to be trifled with, Benny. Leave him be. The rest of the Suns fall into place, dap each other up and break the huddle. Let’s go open up a can on Chicago.
Then the lights are cut off, with only the jumbotron lit up and a spotlight capturing the fans going crazy. Another spotlight illuminates the Bulls logo at halfcourt. The Alan Parsons Project’s most famous song, “Sirius,” is queued, and the setting is set. Then Ray Clay does the rest. Horace’s goggles. Scottie’s wispy mustache. Bill Cartwright being Bill Cartwright. BJ looking shorter than usual. MJ’s high fives and hand claps for everybody. In less than 90 seconds, magic is made and basketball is ready to be played.
Every team has its own spin on introductions. “Detroit Basketball” is a thing in Detroit. Big Tigger does work in DC. “I Love LA” is awesome in Los Angeles. The MSG intros are always good.
However, what the Miami Heat rolled out during the 2013 NBA Finals made me want to attend Walder Frey’s Red Wedding — just slit my throat already.
There’s so much wrong (and a little right) with this. Let me just make a list:
- God bless the San Antonio Spurs. They held up their end of the bargain.
- The “Seven Nation Army” song? Really? Yes, the song is catchy so that anyone with a vested interest will start doing that “OOOOH OH OH OH OH OHHHH OHHHHHHH” thing. But really, why go to this when you already had AN AWESOME introduction song by using C-Murder’s greatest song of all-time for your intros in 2011? So much better, but I digress.
- OK, the Ray Allen and Norris Cole high-stepping thing is awesome. More of that, please.
- So, during the starting lineups, Erik Spoelstra decides to huddle the troops and diagram plays? Was he drawing up the Annexation of Puerto Rico or something? Why are you doing this now? I’m so confused.
- When the players break the huddle, instead of forming the usual alley for players to run through when their name is called, they’re all just standing there. There’s no daps, there’s no chest bumps, just LeBron staring off into the abyss. Udonis stretching. Chris Bosh adjusting his armband. At least Mario Chalmers went and dapped up some folks, albeit they were Juwan Howard and The Assistants. (Yes, this should be a band.) Then there’s Dwyane Wade who’s just sitting there for reasons unknown. Maybe he was resting his knee. Who knows.
That entire thing took nearly three minutes. By that time I imagine fans either went to the restroom to relieve themselves of the multiple mojitos they consumed earlier, other fans were shocked that they made it to the game on time for a change and the players probably needed to warm up again to break a sweat.
Pat Riley Miami, just bring back C-Murder. Keep it under 90 seconds, and let everyone turn up for LeBron, D-Wade and the MIIIIIIIIIIIIAMI HEEEEEEEEEEEEEAT again.