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Back in the Day: The NBA on NBC August 3, 2007

Posted by Marquis Chapman in Back in the Day, Basketball, NBA, Sports.

nba-on-nbc.jpgBefore ABC and ESPN were covering games for the NBA, NBC was the station basketball fans would tune into.  From 1990-2002, NBC was synonymous with the NBA.  Even today, no other network that covers the NBA can come close to NBC.  The network is arguably the blueprint of basketball coverage. 

Thinking back on those twelve years of amazing coverage, there were so many great things about the NBA on NBC.  First, the theme song was amazing and an absolute classic.  When you heard it on Saturday, you knew it was gametime.  When that theme song came on, die hard fans would get a chill down there spine.  The song didn’t have any words and it didn’t need any.  We all knew what it represented.  To this very day, a basketball fan would not have any problem humming the beat, the first couple lines anyway.

The commentators were all great on the show as well.  Ahmad Rashad, Hannah Storm, Bob Costas, and Snapper Jones gave you all the insight and info you needed on the current stars of the league. Even back then, Bill Walton thought every shot was an “awful shot”. To top it off, you had Marv Albert courtside giving you the play by play.  Phrases like “Yes, and it counts!” and “Oh, an amazing shot!” are still with basketball fans to this very day.

The NBA had so many legendary and memorable moments while it was being televised on NBC.  Moments like Reggie Miller scoring 8 points in 11 seconds against the Knicks, and having a few words for Spike Lee afterwards, still haunts Knicks fans today.  Everyone remembers the Miami Heat and New York Knick rivarly, where it seemed liked they played every Saturday against each other. And who can forget the infamous push off by a Chicago Bull to clinch the game and the series in the 1998 NBA finals against the Utah Jazz. Those are just a fraction of the great NBA moments that happened on NBC.

I still don’t understand how NBC could let such a great thing go.  Even though networks like TNT are very respectable and doing well, nothing will ever come close to the NBA on NBC.  I sincerely hope that they will eventually bring it back, but for now all we basketball fans can do is reminisce on how it was back in the day.


1. Chris - August 3, 2007

NBC certainly did a stand up job with the NBA on NBC — though I was very young I can still remember sitting to watch double and sometimes triple headers. Now those were the days! ABC seems to rarely have games on, and when they do, the announcing is terrible (Hubie Brown still does much of his analysis in the second person), and oftentimes downright annoying. ABC could learn a thing or two from what NBC did, firstly televising more games. Still, nothing can top the good old days, NBA on NBC…

2. UtesFan89 - August 3, 2007

Long live the NBA on NBC!
Bring back the good times!

3. kidal25 - August 3, 2007

I agree 100%. I was born in 1990 and I grew up as a child with that stuff. I think NBC quit because Jordan quit. I’m kinda glad they did because it would be hard to cover basketball with all the crooks these days. ESPN does a terrible job covering games and so does ABC. TNT is allright but you are right nothing beat NBC. I’m kinda thinking that the reason basketball ratings went down is because NBC doesn’t cover them. NBC does football games good now on Sunday nights but nothing beat their playoff coverage. Man this should be a topic on VH1’s “I love the 80’s”.


4. Faith - August 4, 2007

Sigh…I feeling nostaglic, missing the old days of great basketball coverage on NBC. TNT is pretty good, but ESPN brings nothing to the table, and ABC is too busy kissing the butt of whoever the superstars of the game are. Thanks for writing this, it brought back a lot of good memories, including the irreplaceable theme.

5. marlid - August 4, 2007

i was listeningh to the theme song and it was pretty ace. cool symphonies and very dramatic!!

6. Temple3 - August 4, 2007

Back in the day-day, the NBA was on CBS and the announcers were Brent Musberger, Tommy Heinsohn (former Celtic player and coach), Dick Stockton, and the like. I certainly agree that NBC did a better job with coverage – but CBS featured the Laker-Celtic rivalry of the 80’s; the Philadelphia 76ers of Julius Erving and Moses Malone; the “Iceman” and even the Milwaukee Bucks of Marques Johnson, Sidney Moncrief and Bob Lanier.

If you remember Dennis Johnson as a Seattle SuperSonic or Phoenix Sun, you saw it on CBS. If you remember seeing White Lightning and Chocolate Thunder, it was on CBS. James Worthy’s greatest spin moves and McHale’s vintage post moves are all on CBS.

It will be interesting to see what memories we take away from this era. Thanks for jogging the memory.

7. Tommy - August 6, 2007

Totally agree about the theme song being great, and I don’t think its that well known that it was composed by John Tesh and even less so that he is an alum of my alma mater, NC State.

8. Marquis Chapman - August 6, 2007

I never woulda guessed that Jon Tesh of all people composed that song.

9. gulfcoastpolo - August 9, 2007

NBC was the best but, TNT is the close with Ernie, Charles, and Kenny doing the studio show. I loved it when the channel CCN/SI had those guys on all the time for extra nba stuff

10. jeremy - August 9, 2007

NBC was the best but, TNT is the close with Ernie, Charles, and Kenny doing the studio show. I loved it when the channel CCN/SI had those guys on all the time for extra nba stuff

11. K.C. - August 11, 2007

As i go back in time I will always think of NBC as the Michael Jordan Channel how many times did we see that preamble to the game where michael Gets off of the team bus in the bowels of some N.B.A. arena shades on 10k Armani suit on earphones on with walkman in hand(pre i-pod) . Or whipping in to the Old Chicago Stadium in a fancy Ferrari on game day. Then fast forward to the announcer Ray Clay saying “From North Carolina”, then the obligatory halftime interview with Mr. Rashaad. Then the post-game interview after Michael has dropped 40 on some team and won the game on a last second shot . What an era thanks N.B.C.

12. Sportsattitude - August 13, 2007

That NBC theme song was flat-out the best opening theme ever, outside of Monday Night Football’s instrumentals (NOT the Hank Williams and friends nonsense).

13. D.C. - September 3, 2007

Even if you were not a huge basketball fan, there was something about this theme song that got you excited.

14. Trey - April 10, 2008

If anyone wants some classic Jordan games (including tons from the NBA on NBC), just email me at trey_for3@hotmail.com

15. elio luis medina - July 10, 2008

I know those times were the greatest
nbc was likely to favor the aura of phil jackson teams
during those years you had team threepeating a lot–something that made you want to watch the playoffs. also the lightnig from the cameras. if you see the games in abc now you just see a somewhat blurred image you don’t hear the crowd with the decybels NBA on NBC used to have. the courts look mor iluminated during nba on nbc games. what is the heck goingon…. i could not wait till the coaches called a time out to hear that beatiful song play. i remember that every year during playoff time i would get in my room with the air conditioner on and the tv volume to max, and i can assure you that it was more than a religious experience to me. i could hear marv albert narrating and calling the plays and i would get chills. also the way they managed the score overlay–you know it fade away and it appeared back whenever a player scored. it wasjust great!!!
i can recall the little square in the left hand lower corner when 59.0 secs were ramaining in the game. ohh i think i am having an orgasm now!!!!!!!!!!!!

16. Bombe - August 8, 2008

I remeber when the NBA on NBC meant that you were in for one hell of an afternoon and what with exciting double headers, amazing. Now it’s all about the ABC TV stars, I can’t tell you how many times during the 2007 Finals ABC flashed to Tony Parker then flashed to Eva Longoria and then put a plug in for Eva’s TV series:” And Tony Parker will go to the line”….”And by the way be sure to catch an all new episode of Desperate Housewives immediately following the game”…. ESPN and ABC destroyed the NBA on TV and with the different angles you get when watching a game it’s ridiculous. For reasons unknown when you see some NBA player going in for dunk the camera changes angles and goes under the basket. Gone are the days when you could see an NBA player fly from the middle of the paint and dunk it. Now all you see is the dunking player and the lighhts hanging from the rafters. Now as for the audio it sounds as if no one is really at the game they’re televising. All you hear is the commentators and every once and awhile they’ll go to a courtside correspondent, or they’ll have the coach mic’d up. Thank you ESPN and ABC for ruining the NBA on TV, bring back NBC and that John Tesh composed opening theme song.

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