If you watch enough NBA basketball, certain commercials become an integral part of your viewing experience. At this point in the postseason, everyone I know is tired of a certain car commercial with a distressing cover of Steve Winwood’s "Higher Love." A couple seasons ago, it felt like The Hoopers really were my next door neighbor. And a younger version of myself wanted to run through a wall when I saw playoff highlights set to Kanye West’s “Amazing.” (An older version of myself just wants to make Kanye read the news.)
All of this is to say, I care too much about NBA playoff commercials. (Yes, I legitimately loved those Pitbull promos.) So I’m really hyped for you guys to see the league’s latest spot for the 2018 NBA Finals, called “Finally Mine.”
In the past, the NBA has often gone with megastars for the music in such spots, with the likes of Coldplay or Timbaland being commissioned to provide sound. “Finally Mine” features the voice of independent artist Juliet Roberts, whose powerful pipes makes holding the Larry O’Brien Trophy look way more dramatic than it already is—in the best way possible. (I have held that trophy before and it is as cool as you think it would be.) Roberts was kind enough to chat with The Crossover earlier this month to discuss how her song ended up in an NBA spot, her love of the Warriors, and the greatest athletic achievement of her life.
Rohan Nadkarni: How did your song end up in an NBA commercial? What was the process like for you?
Juliet Roberts: It starts back—I’m an independent artist. I did a showcase at the Sundance Film Festival. Position Music found me, they loved my voice, and we started working together a couple a years ago. And then we just finished this first full-length album. This song on the album is really special to me. The song “Finally Mine” is probably a deeper meaning song than when you look at it straight ahead. At first glance it’s a love song. Really it’s a love affair with music, my relationship with music, and really wanting, waiting, wishing and dreaming about it. I was really so excited to do this album, so that’s where that song came from.
When it was picked up by the NBA, and they said they fell in love with it, I felt that was just so magical because of the meaning of the song for me. For its use with the NBA and so many athletes who’ve worked their whole life for something that they’re so passionate about, it’s the perfect song placement. They did love the song, and now it’s one of my most beloved and exciting opportunities.
RN: What’s it like to see such a deeply personal song used in a commercial like this?
JR: Oh, my gosh. It’s surreal. When I first saw the spot, your eyes just fill up with tears and you're so excited. When your song is used for something so strong and powerful and something you’re a fan of, it just makes it so much more amazing. The fact that they did leave it raw makes it really special. A lot of times you get opportunities with a song you’re kind of stuck in the background, or they remix it. It’s cool, but to really be able to have my voice, my real voice—that is my voice!—without anything, it makes it so special. To see that in front of all those amazing NBA players, it’s crazy.
RN: I heard you’re a big fan of the Warriors and Steph Curry. How did you start loving them?
JR: The Warriors are the most “team” team if that makes sense. They pass the ball, there’s a lot going on. There’s a lot of dimension to the players. Steph Curry is my favorite because I feel it is so graceful the way he plays, the way he shoots. It’s just so smooth and fluid. It’s beautiful to watch him play. Then you have the opposite, Draymond Green. [Laughs] His passion is all the way out there, he’s all over the place. There’s just a lot happening. I feel like they really are a tight-knit team the way the play.
RN: How would it feel to see your song used during the Finals and the Warriors are playing in the series?
JR: Oh, wow. How would it feel? It really—there’s moments in your career when you know there’s something you need to stop and take in, and really feel the moment. And that would be something where I really need to stop, and take in how beautiful that is. I think that the team and Steph Curry and what a fan I am of what they do and how hard they work, and how strong I’ve had to be in this whole music industry thing, it would just be a beautiful moment. I would have to stop and really take it in. So I can remember it when I’m old. [Laughs] You know? Sometimes cool stuff happens and it goes by so fast. I would stop and soak this in.
RN: What advice would you give other independent artists who hope to be in your position one day?
JR: Oh, that’s a really good question. Honestly, that speaks a lot to what I’ve done because I’ve been asked this—I’m a hustler, I will take any opportunity. I’m the kind of person, I don’t care if there’s one person in the audience or 1,000 people, I care about whoever is caring about it. You look at the other people who’ve done this it’s always super famous people and then you look at Juliet Roberts and it’s like, 'Who is that?' I think that, you do what you do. You love what you do. And you keep doing it. No matter what. The cards are going to fall where they lay. You keep doing what you do and loving what you do, and you don’t stop.
RN: What’s the greatest athletic achievement of your life?
JR: Give me a second here. [Laughs] Okay, I will tell you, I love snowboarding. I remember my first time I landed a jump. It wasn’t very big. But it was a very decent-sized jump. I had been working on jumps for a long time. That was a pretty amusing feat because I fell a lot. It was a very—yeah, I guess I’ll stop talking. It was a jump. It wasn’t a huge one, but we can say that it was bigger than it was.