Whatever Happened to Great NBA Intros?
Back in the day, perhaps the greatest part of the NBA playoffs were the introductions of the starting lineups. NBC seemed to always make sure that they had the intro from whatever public address announcer served the home team. Many times during my early years it was Ray Clay, the public address announcer for your Chicago Bulls!
It was the best introduction to a team that will ever be made in my opinion.
Clay had one of the greatest voices in PA history.
"And now....the starting lineup for your Chicago Bulls..."
Clay was famous for his introductions from 1990-2002 for the Chicago Bulls. His tone and style will forever be legendary in the minds of Bulls fans. In my opinion, and most Bulls fans opinions, he was simply the best to introduce a game.
Clay began introducing Bulls games in 1990 after replacing Tommy Edwards. He is, and always will be, famous for his intros to the Alan Parsons Project song, "Sirius," during the Bulls' championship runs of '91-'93 and '96-'98. He will forever be remembered by his intro of perhaps the greatest player in NBA history: Michael Jordan.
I believe this is how it went, "AAAAnd from North Carolina, a 6'6" guard, number 23, Michael Jordan!!!!"
I can honestly say that I mimicked the way he did his intros while in high school. I played track two of Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon during opponents' starting lineups, just like the Bulls did. I also tried to imitate Clay himself when I introduced the Dallas City Bulldogs, my high school squad. Nevertheless, I could never completely get my Ray Clay down.
For every year I can remember of the Bulls title runs, this is how it went. Along with the song, "Sirius," and Ray Clay, this was the voice of the Bulls. But in my opinion, the NBA intros have gone to the city of lameness since then.
All I can remember from the last eight-plus years is hearing lame PA announcers introducing the starting lineups. They come out to whatever hip-hop music is relevant and for some reason the fans get into it. There are lasers that shoot across the court and spell out player's names as they come out. There is a clever hip-hop beat, and a new wave scoreboard that gets the crowd rocking.
Back in the day, circa Chicago Stadium, it was Clay, a spotlight, "Sirius," and the Chicago fans that made the player introductions so special.
In my opinion, the Ray Clay version of the Chicago Bulls was the best intro there ever was and ever will be. He had a voice that was energizing, and it went along with the greatest song to ever be used during opening game intros.
When Ray Clay was let go after introducing a visiting Jordan old school, the best opening sequence in basketball history died.
What happened to him you may ask?
When Jordan was set to return to the United Center, reporters asked Clay about how he would intro Michael. He said he was going to announce him like he always did. Unfortunately, Bulls ownership did not approve and he was replaced by WLS's Steve Scott at season's end. It was a mistake in my opinion and many Bulls fans' minds—and I will say that Steve Scott is not even in Ray Clay's league.
Many younger folks may not know what I am talking about, so I have provided a link from the 1992 NBA Finals. It is not hip-hop, it isn't heavy metal, it is just classic, the way NBA Finals games are meant to be...
Here is the link.
It is too bad what happened to Clay, he was a voice that could have echoed through the years of the current Bulls and then some. Unfortunately, the Bulls were not smart enough to see that and let him go. Clay is currently the director of campus relations at the University of Chicago and intros the WNBA's Chicago Sky.
To recap this wild thought that may not make sense to a lot of younger NBA fans, Ray Clay and the Bulls intros of the '90s were better than the crap that is played now. But again, that is just my opinion and I could be wrong...
But if I am wrong, tell me how this is not the best...
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