The Friday Five: 5 Best Songs in Basketball Video Games

Welcome to another Friday here at the NLSC and another edition of The Friday Five! If you’re new to the site or simply haven’t come across the Five before, this is a weekly feature that I post on Fridays in which I give my thoughts on a variety of topics that are related to basketball video games, the real NBA or another area of interest to our community, either as a list of five items or in the form of a Top 5 countdown.

We’re back to the world of virtual hoops this week, as I take a look at what I feel are the five best songs in basketball video games. Good soundtracks in basketball titles feature songs that are a good fit with the sport itself, get you hyped to play the game or at the very least are enjoyable to listen to while you’re navigating the menus and setting things up. I don’t exactly fancy myself a music critic or expert but when it comes to basketball games, these songs have stood out to me.

5. Basketball, Kurtis Blow (NBA 2K12)

I’m going to start out with a controversial pick, as I know a lot of people who otherwise enjoyed NBA 2K12 grew to hate this song, which was also featured during the game’s amazing intro. It’s cheesy in the way that a lot of songs from the 80s are, but for me it’s enjoyable for that very reason. It’s also very fitting given the focus on retro content in NBA 2K12, making it a good signature track for the game. Call it a guilty pleasure, but it just cracks the top five thanks to that.

4. Another Victory, Mobb Deep (NBA Live 2004)

This one’s a bit mellower than the other tracks in the countdown, but there’s something about it that I quite like. I even used it in a mix that was intended to promote NBA Live 13 news that ultimately never came. Although it’s a little more subdued than the next three songs in the countdown, its lyrics have a sense of determination, confidence and boastfulness about them that reminds me of a contending team or defending champion that’s about to begin a new season.

3. Remember The Name, Fort Minor (NBA Live 06)

With lyrics that celebrate determination, effort, sacrifice and triumph, Remember The Name is a song that lends itself well to basketball (or indeed, any sport). The NBA certainly thought so too as it was the official theme of the 2006 Playoffs, making its inclusion in NBA Live 06 very timely. A great song from one of my favourite basketball video games.

2. Shak’n the Floor, Rahzel & The NBA Live Orchestra (NBA Live 2000)

I mentioned this one in my countdown of the 5 Best Basketball Video Game Intros, calling it one of the best songs featured on an NBA Live soundtrack. As such, here it is at number two in this countdown. It’s a superb blend of hip hop and jazz, with great basketball themed lyrics that get you pumped up about the sport and the video game you’re playing. I did strongly consider putting it at number one, but it will have to settle for being a close second.

1. NBA 2K Theme, Snoop Dogg (NBA 2K11)

The number one spot instead goes to the theme from NBA 2K11. Snoop Dogg has contributed a few songs to basketball video game soundtracks over the years but this signature tune for NBA 2K11 is the best of the bunch. The beat, the passion, the attitude, the lyrics…they’re all great, making the theme a fantastic basketball anthem. Besides, any song from a basketball game that mentions gameplay sliders has to be number one on a list like this.

Special mention goes to Sirius by The Alan Parsons Project, also from NBA 2K11, which has strong ties to basketball and was a great fit for a game that celebrated Michael Jordan. I also have to acknowledge NBA Live 2004’s version of Right Thurr by Chingy as it’s enjoyably hilarious, especially when juxtaposed with the original lyrics.

What are some of your favourite songs from basketball video games? Let me know in the comments below and as always, feel free to take the discussion to the NLSC Forum. Thanks for checking out this week’s Five, please join me again next Friday where I’ll pick my five worst songs in basketball video games.

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April 27, 2013 4:23 am

Glad you included a song off the NBA Live 2004 soundtrack. It has a special place in my heart for it being my first NBA Live game, and the soundtrack was awesome. My favorite song off the soundtrack was Red Cafe – Virus (NBA Live Mix).

April 27, 2013 6:44 am

I am so gonna break out my PS2 and play some Live 04 now.

April 27, 2013 11:26 am

My most memorable NBA video game theme song has to be Live 2001’s Unstoppable. It’s like a cross between the 90’s and 2000’s basketball music stereotype. And it still sounds good today.

The X
The X
April 27, 2013 3:44 pm

Fort Minor Live ’06 is where it’s at. The moment I heard it when I got the game, I knew it was a superb intro song.

April 27, 2013 7:35 pm

Is it just me or is Snoop’s theme better with a 2k11 trailer video?

April 29, 2013 8:45 am

I like old NBA songs produced by Traz Damji, but if we’re talikng about song with vocal my fav5 are:
1. Rahzel feat, NBA Sports Orchesta – Shakin the floor
2. Duo Live feat. Billionz, Joel Ortiz, Red Cafe, M.O.P – Shootin’ (NBA 2k10)
3. The Game feat. Fredwreck – Can’t Stop Me (Nba Live 2004)
4. Mr. J. Medeiros – Silent Earth, Omhega Watts remix (NBA Live 08)
5. Fabolous & DJ Clue – It’s in the game (NBA Live 2003) ex aqueo with DJ Jazzy Jeff feat. CL Smooth – All I know (NBA LIve 2008

Special mention goes to Nickodemus – Funky in the middle from 2k9 (instrumental), B. Rich – Whoa Now (NBA Live 2003 version) and The Brunettes – Red Rollerskates (Yeah I know lyrics got no reference to basketball, but I like it. From NBA 2k11) and many others 😛
By the way I hope Jay-z won’t be a “Executive Producer” in next year.

May 16, 2013 1:15 pm

I personally like 2003 and 2004 (the game, outkast, red cafe, JD, mobb deep, Dilated Peoples, twista, lil flip – all good) soundtrack, but all games have nice songs.