[Editor's note: Jason Feifer is the creator of the recently-launched bad NBA songs website. We asked him to shed some light on the peculiar world of NBA theme songs, which he has spent hours, if not a few more hours, researching.]
At this point the best, and perhaps only, reason to attend a Sixers game in Philly is that at least once or twice each night, the Wells Fargo Center DJ plays an old ditty about the team. It’s a jolly theme song from the 70s, when basketball was a far different sport. “One, two, threefourfive, Sixers,” goes the song. “Ten, nine, eight, 76ers!” And everyone there—which isn’t saying much, but still—sings along.
The tune was resurrected last year, which was a bold move for an NBA team. Today, these types of songs are almost entirely hip hop—occasionally produced by high-profile artists for teams like the Knicks or Lakers, but mostly just a lot of bad amateur rap on YouTube. They’re full of boasting, talking about rings and ferocity and defending turf, as if you’re a player being pumped up before a game. I’ve collected many at my site, and having listened to dozens of them, I've come to realize: The old songs of the 70s, 80s, and 90s—the ones that few teams still embrace—are in fact the most truthful songs ever produced about NBA teams.
Some are jazzy. Some are funky. They were probably designed to lure suburbanites to the arena, but all of them tried to capture the only things a fan can actually access—which, if we're being honest, isn’t the kind of glory reserved for the players. This is the cruelty of fandom: As invested as we feel, the most we can manage is to have fun at a game and marvel at the majesty of someone else’s athletic achievement. Cheesy as these songs were, they kept that in perspective. It was just simple and fun: ra, ra, joy, joy, wowee-zowee. That’s the best we’ll really get, and that’s what makes these songs at once cringe-worthy and straight-up fun. By my light, these are the five "best" songs from the NBA’s earlier days. Feel differently? Think I missed a canonical number? Let's hear it in the comments.
1. MIAMI HEAT IN THE 1990s
Inspired lyric: “Can you feel the Heat down in your soul? I feel the Heat, they’re in control.”
Remember, haters: Before Dwyane Wade was drafted, this really was the best Miami had to offer. [Editor's note: Of course Feifer, a longstanding Heat fan, would rank them number one.]
2. MILWAUKEE BUCKS IN 1977
Inspired lyric: "The Bucks don't stop here. Milwaukee Bucks, green and growing, better each year! Green and growing! The Bucks don't stop here."
With all its pep and horns, you’d think it was a commercial jingle for fertilizer.
3. WASHINGTON BULLETS IN 1994
Inspired lyric: "Juwan Howard, you da man, you da man. Gheorghe Muresan, you da man, you da man. That's the reason I'm a Bullets fan."
If you were a Bullets fan because of Juwan Howard and Gheorghe Muresan, that really is dedication.
4. DENVER NUGGETS IN 1977
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Inspired lyric: “Clearin’ the boards or drivin' the lane, our teamwork is a beautiful sight. We've got a defensive hustle and offense with muscle, we’re gunnin’ for the win tonight.”
And if they lost, no problem! Everyone will just go get stoned.
5. PHILADELPHIA 76ers IN THE 1970s
Inspired lyric: “One, two, threefourfive, Sixers! Ten, nine, eight, 76ers!”
It really just doesn’t get any better.