The percentage of songs associated with basketball that actually have something to do with basketball is freakishly small. “Whoomp! (There It Is)” by Tag Team is not a basketball song. It’s a song about drinking and partying that happens to include the phrase “slam dunk” once near the end. And. frankly, no one remembers more than the chorus anyway.
Honest to goodness basketball songs are in short supply, and some just aren’t very good. If you can’t imagine yourself playing basketball to the song or if the energy is low and the vocals are soft, it has no place on game day.
Here’s my pick of the five best basketball songs currently out there — or at least songs that make a genuine effort to integrate commendable amounts of basketball lingo.
Don’t start with me. I know Five is a 90s wannabe bad-boy band. This song is, regrettably, catchy and high on energy. Honestly, it’s kind of fun, and the band makes an effort to integrate more than just “slam dunk” into their lyrics, utilizing phrases like “put it up,” “ally-oop,” “shooting,” “passing” and others repeatedly.
So while the song isn’t strictly basketball related, it’s actually more basketball-themed than one of the most famous B-ball songs out there (I’m lookin’ at you, “Whoomp!”). Add that to the almost playful beats and very 90s sound, and you’ve got an energetic track fit for a backyard hoops match or your kids’ games.
4. “Basketball” by Lil’ Bow Wow
Yes, this one is a remake of Kurtis Blow’s song in 1984. The deal though, is that it has more umph than the original. Lots more, and somehow manages to be less cheesy to boot. The rapping by guests Fabulous and Jermaine Dupri gives the song a layer of maturity that Bow Wow lacks on the track. The music also loses the 80s synthetic sound and upgrades to a much less fake percussive beat.
It may not be game-day intense, but Bow Wow’s “Basketball” certainly delivers on pure game goodness fit for highlight reels or halftime entertainment routines.
This is a basketball song performed by a basketball legend. It has to make the list. It helps that it’s one of Shaq’s better tracks too.
Sure, Shaq spends the entire track bragging about how good a player he is, but this kind of egotistic, too serious for its own good track is good for game day. It’ll get you pumped and promotes competition and confidence. Just don’t get too carried away and declare yourself the best player on the team. That’s a good way to never see the ball in a game.
This is a superb basketball song about being better than your opponent on the court and knowing it. Not just for actually being about basketball and featuring rap (rapping seems to be a necessity for good basketball songs, I’m finding), but for a uniqueness in sound. Gang Starr’s track has fun jazzy beats that make you want to get up and move. DJ Premier pops in to scratch between verses, adding another element that doesn’t seem as if it should mesh, but does. “Now You’re Mine” will get you pumped and, similar to Shaq’s track, brags enough to get you feeling good about yourself. It’ll loosen the tension while still mentally getting you ready to get onto the court.
1. “Space Jam” by Quad City DJs
It isn’t as music-classy as “Now You’re Mine,” nor is it as serious as “Skillz,” but no one can dispute that “Space Jam” should be the official anthem of basketball. Why? Because it’s fun, it brings a smile to your face, it makes you want to dance and, as if those weren’t enough reasons, there’s rapping and integrated basketball terminology. Boom. Perfect.
Seriously though, it’s a basketball song about a fun basketball movie starring Looney Tunes and Michael Jordan, the king of basketball himself. It’s cheesy, brilliant and knowing this song indicates your childhood was likely an awesome one. What better way to get loosened up for a big game than to listen to something that’ll make you laugh and think of less stressful times and Bugs Bunny? Your argument is invalid.