I was bummed to tune into the NBA Finals last night to see them show the National Anthem but cut to a commercial right after. That's the time the the players are introduced and one of coolest parts of the viewing experience in my opinion. So since Mickey Mouse wouldn't show us player intros, I'm here to give you my five favorite ever:
5) 1994 New York Knicks
I had Knicks season tickets from 2010 - 2020 and there is no place more electric than the Garden when the Knicks are rocking. I saw some really good Knicks teams in the early part of my tenure, but never saw my team in the Finals in person. In 1994 the then Pat Riley-led Knicks lit the city ablaze and this intro gives me goosebumps every time. I love how it goes from virtual reality on the scoreboard right into the electric voice of Knicks PA announcer Mike Walczewski. Fun fact: my wife surprised me on our wedding day and had him record a custom intro for us being introduced as a couple for the first time which was really special. So I guess this is personal to me, but as unbiased as I can be, this still holds water almost 30 years later.
4) 2013 Miami Heat
I hate the Miami Heat, but they really did a great job capturing The White Stripes "Seven Nation Army" and making it really collaborative with the fans. Definitely gets people on their feet and the crowd rocking. This would probably be in the top three if Heat PA announcer Michael Baiamonte wasn't such a square.
3) 2007 Cleveland Cavaliers
Pay no attention to the laughable squad the Cavs trotted out there as they got swept in the 2007 NBA Finals. This intro with Juelz Santana's "The Second Coming" gets me actually think this team has a chance to win the whole dang series! I love that they put their home announcer calls over the highlights too, nice touch.
2) 90s Chicago Bulls
This is the classic. A song that's a popular ring tone in the midwest. The graphics on the scoreboard of the Bull running free obviously plays into their mascot theme and Ray Clay's voice is simply iconic. The fact that Michael Jordan closes it out by being introduced last probably makes this an upset as not being #1. But for the top spot, there was really only one choice:
1) 2004 & 2005 Detroit Pistons
This was the group that changed the game. Until the 2004 Pistons, it was pretty vanilla. Graphics, lasers, jock jams music, intro. But the Pistons changed the game with a PA announcer that just went by Mason. Everything about this is incredible. The video with local musician, Kid Rock getting the noise levels up, the video with individual player nicknames like "Mr. Big Shot" for Chauncey Billups and "Ball Don't Lie!" for Rasheed Wallace. During actual introductions, Mason gives each player a very regal, personalized description and it's all highlighted by the Big Ben bell ringing for Ben Wallace to close it down. This is the #1 player intro of all-time and it's honestly not close.