Long before the development of Youtube, where any NBA highlight is easily accessible, the only place you could watch an NBA legend’s highlights was on a VHS tape. Back in the Associations’ heyday of the late 80’s and early 90’s the NBA released some amazing highlight videos called NBA Superstars. The premise of this series of videos was to set each player’s highlights to music tracks (look below) by popular artists at the time and, supposedly, reflected that player’s personality.
Who could forget Larry Bird making some sweet no-look passes while sporting a Joe Dirt-esque, Trans-Am style mullet and dirty mustache to John “Cougar” Mellencamp’s “Small Town.” Or Sir Charles running the floor, grabbing boards, and dunking from the foul line before he started slamming tequila with Steve Urkel and searching for the worlds’ best hummer. Perhaps the most interesting video was Michael Jordan’s highlight that featured “Take My Breath Away”. The title of the song makes sense for MJ, but when I think of that song, I tend to imagine Mav and Goose flying jets and playing volleyball in jeans on the beach. In my opinion, Billy Ocean got snubbed. are you telling me “Get Out of My Dreams” would not have gone great with a little Isiah Thomas. The complete lineup for Volume 1 includes some of the most random musical talent ever assembled. Take at look at the other interesting musical pairings below.
Michael Jordan – “Take My Breath Away” by Berlin
Magic Johnson – “Control” by Janet Jackson
Isiah Thomas – “The Right Stuff” by Vanessa Williams
Larry Bird – “Small Town” by John Mellencamp
Akeem Olajuwon – “How You Like Me Now” by Kool Mo Dee
Dominique Wilkins – “Looking Glass” by Yanni, yes that Yanni
Julius Erving – “The Greatest Love of All” by Whitney Houston
A Tribute to Older Players – “A Time to Remember” by Billy Joel
As the NBA moved into the 90’s, the NBA’s marketing department, in their infinite wisdom, thought it would be a great idea to release two more of these videos to feature other stars and add more recent highlights of their mega-stars. Volume 2 was a fairly strong effort. It featured such all-stars as Scottie Pippen, Chris Mullin, Karl Malone, and Patrick Ewing. Much of the cast from Volume 1 also appeared in Volume 2, including Michael Jordan’s video strangely set to a Patti LaBelle song.
However, by Volume 3, the NBA Superstars’ video series was running out of gas, rather quickly. At this point, “Superstars” like Mark Price, Kenny Anderson, Alonzo Mourning, Joe Dumars and Larry Johnson in his “Gramama” get-up were being featured. Some of the musical choices on Volume 3 were even worse than the players featured with. Thunder Dan Majerle’s highlights featured a Celine Dion song. What did Thunder Dan do to deserve that? In spite of the mostly horrible musical choices, Shaq’s video was absolutely phenomenal. Clearly, the video was more of an unintentional comedy than an actual highlight video.After that debacle, there was no reason to release Volume 4.
Now, over 15 years later, a new crop of NBA Superstars has emerged. It’s only fair that the stars of this era get their opportunity to be on a DVD with their best highlights set to 80s-90s music (in most cases). Looking at eight top-tier NBA players, I have come up with a list that the NBA might want to look at if they decide to produce NBA Superstars IV.
8.) Dwight Howard – “No Sleep Till Brooklyn” – The Beastie Boys
If any song fits Dwight Howard, it’s likely this one. Even though Dwight is currently playing in L.A., he has always seemed to have his sights set in Brooklyn. Honestly, I don’t really think he has much of a desire to play with Kobe. I’m pretty certain we will likely see him wearing his fake glasses with the all of the other mustachioed hipsters in Greenpoint and Williamsburg next season. Howard has taken a beating in the media for the way he has handled himself while departing Orlando, but he is still one of the game’s premier players.
He leads the league this season in rebounds per game at 12.0 and averages 2.4 blocks per game, which is good enough for 5th, overall. On top of that, he throws down some nasty dunks and will swat shots into the 4th row. I like to think that this song matches Dwight’s play on the court and his personality off of it. Like Dwight, Mike D, Ad-Rock, and the late MCA, were just young immature performers at this point, but there was no question they had talent. Over the years, the Beastie Boys matured by becoming more socially responsible and continued to make great music. Perhaps, Dwight will follow that path and become the dominant player that everyone thinks he can be and quit acting like a petulant 5 year old..
7.) Dirk Nowitzki – “Mama Said Knock You Out” – LL Cool J
Perhaps you were expecting David Hasselhoff, The Scorpions, or some other German musical act, but the first line of the song really grabbed me. “Don’t call it a comeback, I’ve been here for years…” Dirk is finishing up an extraordinary career that has seen him go from being a relative unknown coming into the league in 1998 to a first ballot Hall of Famer.
A model of consistency, he put up at least 21 PPG and 6 RPG in 11 straight seasons. Until the Mavericks won the NBA title in 2011, many thought Dirk to be a too soft and a choke artist, especially after he his #1 seeded Mavs got beat by an upstart #8 seeded Golden State squad in the first round of the playoffs in 2007. Nevertheless, he battled back and had one of the best playoff runs in recent memory in 2011. After sweeping the defending champion Lakers, beating the Thunder in 5 games, they defeated Miami in 6 games for their first NBA title in franchise history. Like Dirk, many people thought that LL was soft too before the release of this album at the ripe old age of 22, but he, like Dirk, never wavered and has still been here for years.
6.) Carmelo Anthony – “New York, New York” – Frank Sinatra
Perhaps no other song on this list appears less suited for its’ respective player than this one, but I would recommend you give it a try. Frank Sinatra is New York and so is Carmelo Anthony. He is the face of the Knicks, and Frank is still an icon in the NYC even though he’s been dead for 15 years. They still play this song after every Yankee game, and when you see the New York skyline many automatically think of this song. I know Carmelo played in Denver for 8 seasons before coming to the Big Apple, but by the end of his career, I don’t think people will remember him as a Nugget.
Carmelo is not Lebron James or Kevin Durant, but when it comes time to play he will not back down from anyone. He has revived a New York franchise that hasn’t been relevant in almost 15 years and is playing the best basketball of his career at this point averaging a career high 29.4 PPG this season.. His 3-point shooting has never been better at 42% and he has cut down on his turnovers. I think the Knicks can give the Heat a run for their money if they meet in the playoffs as long as they stay healthy. I don’t doubt for a second that Anthony would love to see Lebron and his teammates coming into The Garden this spring. For the time being, he has finally helped the Knicks get their swagger back.
5.) Tim Duncan – “Old School” – Tupac
Arguably, the best all-around player since Michael Jordan retired, there is no question that Tim Duncan deserves to on this list. Following that same line of thinking, being one of the greatest hip-hop legends of all time, there could not be an NBA highlight video without a track from Tupac. Duncan could be considered the most under-appreciated superstar to ever play professional basketball. He has 4 NBA titles, 14 All-Star appearances, 8 All-NBA First Team awards, and 2 NBA MVPs to his name. He has averaged 20-10 for his career and no one has ever said a bad word about him. If he played in a bigger market, he would be considered the 3rd best player of all-time behind Jordan and Russell. He was never a flashy player, but in the end all he has done is win basketball games.
Tupac, like Tim, always gave put forth his maximum effort. Although, flashier than Tim, he just kept creating critically-acclaimed hip-hop albums. While he was alive, he never made an album that was subpar. To this day, many consider him to be the “gold-standard” when it comes to hip-hop artists. Tupac made this song as an homage to those that came before him, and, in the NBA, Duncan certainly helped create a blueprint for success for younger players to follow.
4.) Kobe Bryant – “K.O.B.E.” – Kobe Bryant
I have a rule. If you release an album, you will have one of your songs as your highlight video. Kobe is no different. There seemed to be a time in the late 90s into the early 2000s when it was acceptable for pro athletes to start recording their own music. I’m not sure who told them it was O.K., but when someone is giving you a dumptruck full of money to sing, you don’t ask too many questions. I blame Shaq. He started this horrific trend, and Kobe, not to be outdone by the Diesel in a facet of life tried to emulate him in the studio and failed miserably.
Despite it all, Kobe has enough career highlights to make even a Smashmouth song seem tolerable.With five NBA titles, 30,000 points, and 15 All-Star appearances, he is a legend. No matter how heinous of a hip-hop artist he might be, he is a first ballot Hall of Famer and can basically do whatever he wants, so long as it doesn’t take place in a Colorado hotel room.
3.) Chris Paul – “Right Now” – Van Halen
If you’re like me, whenever I hear this song it reminds of a few things, one of them being…Crystal Clear Pepsi. It looked like water and tasted horrible. Needless to say, it was a bust. One of the other things this songs reminds me of is Chris Paul. Chris Paul is right now. The guy is the best PG in the league, hands down. He is 6 time All-Star selection, that has a 4-1 assist to turnover ratio. He, along with Blake Griffin and a solid supporting, has done the impossible by making the Clippers a title contender. Paul does all of this while being listed at 6’0” 175 lbs. He’ll be a first ballot Hall of Famer five years after he retires.
As for Van Halen, they are not “right now.” They are probably not even 1994, at this point. With more lineup changes than Brett Favre’s retirement press conferences, they’re about as done as Crystal Clear Pepsi.
2.) Kevin Durant – “Slam” – Onyx
I had to dig deep to find a track that would fit with KD and this was it it. Arguably the second best player in the league, he is on the ascent and in a few years should replace Lebron on the throne as the NBA’s best player. Kevin has an uncanny ability on the offensive end and plays decent defense too. Durant has lead the NBA in PPG for the last 3 seasons and is atop the standings once again in 2012-2013. He is currently shooting over 50% from the floor, 41% from three, and over 90% from the FT line this season, which puts him a rarified air. Another interesting stat about Durant is that he hasn’t been held to single digits in scoring during a game since January 2009. That is quite amazing feat, but he still has about 5 seasons to go before he breaks MJ’s record of 866 games.
This song epitomizes many of the plays that Durant makes on a nightly basis. Whether it be a game winning three, a block from behind, or a nasty dunk, Durant brings plenty of energy. Onyx does the same thing.They hit harder than Tonya Harding’s goons on Nancy Kerrigan’s knee. They didn’t seem to give a f— about anything but rapping, partying, and possibly curb stomping people. They were about as rough as a Lindsey Lohan mugshot. It’s a real shame that we haven’t heard much from them in 15 years. Maybe one day both Onyx will return to glory once again.
1.) Lebron James – “Victory” – Puff Daddy ft. Notorious B.I.G. & Busta Rhymes
Victory. Lebron finally earned it. As the current reigning NBA world champion, Olympic gold medalist and overall best player in the world, he is sitting on the throne as king over all of the basketball world. Much like this collaboration of hip-hop talent, Lebron entered into a team with two other All-Stars to finally get that coveted ring. And although, people rip him for not trying to win one on his own, he has stated he has no regrets about his decision. He knew what he needed to get him the ultimate prize.
Love him or hate him, you can’t deny his ability. Puffy did the something similar. He may not be regarded as a great rapper, but paired with Busta, BIG, and a sample of the “Going the Distance” from the Rocky soundtrack, it definitely gets the adrenaline flowing. Basically, Puffy has made a career of piggy-backing off of other artist’s songs. No one really seems to think any less of him. He’s still a great talent. Of all of the players on this list, only Kobe has more highlights, but Lebron can do things that Kobe could not think of doing. Lebron is also in his prime and will likely taste victory a few more times before he hang ‘em up for good.
What songs do you think would be a good fit for each of these players? How were my selections? We know you guys dig late 80’s and early 90’s hoops so holla at us and put your thoughts in the comments.
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