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Stand and Cheer: The History of NBA Player Introductions

Feb 14, 2007 – 9:17 PM
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Nate Jones

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Player introductions in the NBA have evolved over the years. They went from being a simple way of letting the fans know which players would be starting for the home and away teams, to being an elaborate way of getting teams and fans pumped up for games.

Back in 1972, the Knicks and Lakers played in the NBA Finals. The player intros in the Forum didn't have much fluff to them. There's no music in the background, just a simple Organ chime after each players name is called out. And there also isn't much of a difference between how the P.A. announcer introduced the players from the home team versus how they introduced the players from the road team.

Fast Forward to 1990 and the Detroit Pistons player intros. The Pistons are playing in new arena and start to jazz up their starting lineups a bit by playing introducing their players with Europe's "The Final Countdown" playing in the background. You can tell the Pistons players are all business, because they are not jumping around or even smiling when they get introduced (except for Dennis Rodman). They all look like cold blooded killers.

The introductions of the starting lineups began to really become something to behold when the Chicago Bulls hired Ray Clay to become their P.A. announcer. They started to introduce players with lights dimmed and the Alan Parsons Project's "Sirius" blasting in the background. Ray Clay's voice, combined with the screams of some of the loudest fans in the NBA made the Chicago Bulls intros tops in the league. The old Chicago stadium would get the loudest when Ray Clay would belt: "Frooooom North Carolina, at guard, six-six...Michaaaaeel Joooordaaannn".

Soon after the Bulls revolutionized player introductions, it became almost standard around the league to for all teams to dim the lights and introduce their starters. But it's just not done in the same tasteful manner than Clay and the Bulls organization first did it. Today, teams have fire works, lazers, and wacky announcers to get the party started. But none of what they do will ever top the Ray Clay Intros. The sad part is that Ray Clay is no longer a P.A. announcer in the NBA. The Bulls fired him in 2002 for not introducing Michael Jordan like a regular visiting player when Jordan was playing for the Wizards. Here's a look back at Ray doing what he does best:

Today, the best player intros probably belong to the Detroit Pistons. Pistons P.A. announcer, John Mason, really knows how to get an arena hyped. The key to having good player intros is a great P.A. announcer and consistent music. Fans don't like it when teams change the music they come out to every game (teams like the Pistons and Bulls have used the same intro music for over ten years). As well, it's key to have a P.A. announcer that has a unique but relatable style. The P.A. announcer also needs to remain consistent in his delivery. Anyhow, here is a video of John Mason introducing the 2006 Detroit Pistons:

Filed under: Sports