Robert Cray, Ozomatli and Jay-Z producer re-imagining ESPN NBA theme music

Posted on 2 February 2013
By Bert Bernstein
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Fans of ESPN’s NBA programming, including Coast to Coast and NBA Tonight, might have noticed some unique twists on the standard theme music throughout the season.

The new versions were developed for ESPN by popular recording artists across a variety of different music genres.

Among them are three Grammy-winning artists: Ozomatli, a Latin rock band that fuses many different music genres; Humble Monsta/Mr. Bink, a Jay-Z producer and the blues-inspired Robert Cray Band.

Other artists include the California indie rock band The Mowgli’s, jazz artist John Pizzarelli and The Sweet Tea Project, a group led by Ed Roland of Collective Soul.

Two British artists — electro-pop sensation Jacob Plant and rock band The Heavy — also joined the diverse lineup.

Beginning today and continuing through to Friday, fans can vote for their favorite version on the SportsNation section of

The winning version will be featured on ESPN’s telecast of the Sprint NBA All-Star Celebrity Game on Friday 15 February.

On selecting the artists, ESPN music director Kevin Wilson said: “Basically, we decided the types of genres that we wanted to feature and then we just started identifying artists that fit into those genres. We came up with a list of really talented, unique artists and started to make our requests.”

Kevin thinks it is important to bring fans into the creative process. He said: “I think it’s just another level of giving fans more information. When I watch television and movies, I’m really inquisitive about what kind of music is used and how it came about. At ESPN, we get a lot of emails asking about the music on the shows, too. I think the more information we can share, the better it is for fans.”

Music is an important part of production. Kevin explains: “At ESPN, music is a key, integral part of our storytelling and the branding of our shows. Theme music serves one purpose and commercial music serves another purpose; but all of our shows feel pretty strongly about its importance.”

He hopes fans take something positive from the experience. He added: “I hope they enjoy what they listen to and appreciate being exposed to new artists. I hope they choose to learn more about the artists we selected because all of them are fantastic.”