Not to be confused with Starter jackets, here’s a starter kit featuring ten fabled basketball tracks to help assemble your own hoops playlist.
- Kurtis Blow “Basketball”
In 1984 Kurtis Blow birthed the Mona Lisa of basketball songs. If Alyson Williams’ vocal hook fails to ensnare you, the ‘80s music video shenanigans should do the trick.
- Brother Bones “Sweet Georgia Brown” (Harlem Globetrotters Theme Song)
Seeing the Harlem Globetrotters at ol’ Reunion Arena easily ranks as one of my fondest memories growing up. The Globetrotters play with a joyous flare, bringing people to basketball since 1926. This song compels one to practice H-O-R-S-E shots!
- Skee-Lo “I Wish”
Skee-Lo’s monster 1995 hit “I Wish” gained popularity primarily because, I mean, who doesn’t wish they were a baller? Basketball has a cool factor unmatched by other sports. Skee-Lo’s desire to be “a little bit taller” and “a baller” made the song super relatable.
- G. Love & Special Sauce “Shooting Hoops”
I’ll admit it. G. Love is a guilty pleasure of mine. That said, his 1994 track “Shooting Hoops” stands the test of time as a basketball classic. While I’m skeptical G. Love can hoop worth a lick, he doesn’t lack for confidence: “I could fake to the left penetrate like Mike / Or 360 in the air as Dominique might / I could pass like Magic / I could shoot like the Bird, after a Doctor J dunk / The courtside drunk said good lord”
- NBA Jam (Sega Genesis) Main Theme Music
The GOAT of basketball video games (sorry 2K) had an intoxicating theme song. Its synth melodies are forever fused to my internal wiring. Boomshakalaka!
- Public Enemy “He Got Game”
He Got Game is arguably the best basketball movie of all time. The movie is additionally supported by a killer soundtrack. Public Enemy crushed it with thought-provoking lyrics over the sampled Buffalo Springfield track “For What It’s Worth.”
- NBA On NBC Theme Song 1991-2002
To be honest I had never experienced the extended version of this song until I began research for this article. This full version really slaps! I remember as a kid how it fired me up because I knew MJ was about to go GOAT mode on some helpless team.
- Quad City DJ’s “Space Jam”
The eponymous song off the Space Jam soundtrack still hits. Space Jam’s cultural impact yet resonates and seemingly will for future generations as LeBron James is set to star in Space Jam: A New Legacy. The film is due to hit theaters and HBO Max this July.
- B-Real, Busta Rhymes, Coolio, LL Cool J and Method Man “Hit ‘Em High”
Yes, I know. I know. Another song off the Space Jam soundtrack. Sorry, but this who’s who lineup of ‘90s rappers can’t be denied. This song also served as the hype music for the most villainous hoops squad in recorded history, The Monstars!
- Riff “White Men Can’t Jump”
Yet another eponymous movie soundtrack hit. Nonetheless, I’d be remiss to leave this song off the list. Click the link to the music video and tell me this track doesn’t belong! Any opportunity to watch Billy Hoyle awkwardly dance with a basketball is one worth seizing.
Prewitt Scott-Jackson writes prose poetry & small fiction. Prewitt prefers *short* walks on the beach because, and I quote, “It’s really hard to walk on sand.” Find more words & blarney from PSJ on the interweb super highway at allsalinitylost.com