Music and sports fit like a glove. Sports such as basketball require great endurance and stamina, which music often helps create and inspire. This is the reason most professional athletes and NBA players have playlists of basketball songs to help pump themselves with adrenaline come game time and stay in the zone.
Songs about basketball are written and covered by many types of artists who pull their inspiration from the human drama and battles fought on the hard court. Here are the 31 best basketball songs of all time:
1. He Got Game – Public Enemy Featuring Stephen Stills
Public Enemy released this basketball song in 1998 as the title song for the movie He Got Game. They are a famous hip-hop group created in Long Island in the mid-1980s by Flavor Flav and Chuck D. The song tells a story of a runaway basketball, which is a metaphor about how the game of basketball can exploit young adults by luring them from their homes to a world of temptation.
2. Sweet Georgia Brown – Brother Bones & His Shadows
“Sweet Georgia Brown” might be one of the oldest songs about basketball, having been written in the mid-1920s as a jazz composition in New York City. Some of the most talented jazz artists and musicians have covered this incredibly infectious melody. Arguably the most iconic of basketball songs, it is the theme song of the Harlem Globetrotters.
3. Basketball – Kurtis Blow
Kurtis Blow, an NYC hip hop artist, released “Basketball” in 1984 to honor his favorite sport. This song mentions more than two dozen famous basketball players, with Dr. J mentioned first because he was Blow’s favorite player. The NBA began to play this basketball song as an anthem for their games, and it was picked up as the introduction song for the NBA 2K12 video game.
4. Forever – Drake, Kanye West, Lil Wayne, And Eminem
Released in 2009, with millions of YouTube views, “Forever” is one of those basketball songs that reached superhit status as the title track to a documentary called More Than A Game. It hits with great energy and attitude to match the documentary, a film that follows mega-superstar basketball player LeBron James and his teammates through their high school basketball years in Ohio.
5. Roundball Rock – John Tesh
“Roundball Rock,” released in 1990 by John Tesh, is an upbeat musical score played 12,000 times for over two decades on NBC when broadcasting official NBA games. The song’s updated, rock-oriented version was used for the WNBA from 1997 to 2002. This classic of all basketball songs was also played for the basketball games during the 2008 Olympic games.
6. Champions – Ron Artest
Ron Artest, now legally known as Metta Sandiford-Artest, is among a fair number of basketball players who transition to the music genre. “Champions,” with mesmerizing lyrics about the sport of basketball, remains a favorite basketball song by NBA players and their fans. It is often ranked among the best basketball songs on the 2K11 playlist.
7. Space Jam – Quad City DJs
“Space Jam” was released in 1996 under the animated movie of the same name, which starred both Michael Jordan and the cast of Looney Tunes. In 2015, Zach LaVine, as a tribute to the song, participated and won the NBA All-Star Dunk Contest while wearing an MJ Toons jersey.
8. Sirius – The Alan Parsons Project
The Alan Parsons Project is a British rock band that released “Sirius” in 1982 on their sixth studio album. The song, with its catchy, upbeat, and spirited lyrics and tune, is the Chicago Bulls theme song. It was played while introducing the night’s starting lineup during their heyday, defined by six NBA championships. “Sirius” is also ranked among the best songs about basketball.
9. Remember the Name – Fort Minor
“Remember The Name” was released in 2005 by Fort Minor. This song about basketball has a driving up-tempo beat that was played extensively at sporting events, including the theme song for two NBA playoff games in 2006 and 2007 and the NBA Draft in 2008. It has also been highlighted on EA Sports NBA Live 2006.
10. Eye of the Tiger – Survivor
Survivor’s “Eye Of The Tiger” tops the list of most inspirational sports songs. Released in 1982 as the theme song of the movie Rocky III, starring Sylvester Stallone, it was nominated for the best original song in a film the year it was released. Its driving spirit motivates both athletes and fans, and decades after its release, it continues to be a beloved song about never giving up and reaching for success.
11. Basketball Jones – The Studio Group
In the 1996 film Space Jam, Barry White and Chris Rock covered “Basketball Jones,” a song originally from a Cheech And Chong album in 1973. The song highlights our collective fascination with the talent the game of basketball displays. It is recognized to be among the greatest songs about basketball. Here is a cover by The Studio Group.
12. Basketball Dreams – Sleepy Hallow
Sleepy Hallow released this haunting, melodic ballad about a young child searching for a place to belong and reaching for basketball as his solution to finding their way in an unpredictable world. Through its moving lyrics, “Basketball Dreams” reminds us that dreams are important, and despite the current darkness, hope is where the magic lies.
13. Wing$ – Macklemore And Ryan Lewis
“Wing$” is a hip hop song released in 2011 by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis. It follows the life of a young boy infatuated with everything basketball, from memorabilia to many Michael Jordan promotional pictures and snapshots. It is also a piece about the impact of consumerism on American youth. The song was chosen to highlight the 2013 NBA All-Star Game.
14. White Iverson – Post Malone
“White Iverson,” the debut music single released by Post Malone in 2015, has been certified 5x Platinum by RIAA. He used the lyrics to compare himself to basketball legends like Allen Iverson, James Harden, and Kevin Durant. The video has garnered much attention with millions of YouTube views and a fan in Allen Iverson himself.
15. Heart of a Champion – Nelly
“Heart Of A Champion” was released on Nelly’s 2004 Sweat Album. The song is an uplifting tale about life’s obstacles that must be overcome to attain success. The story follows a young basketball player looking for his place on the basketball team, which is a transparent metaphor for anyone’s dream. This song about basketball life from the eyes of an impressionable young adult is a lesson in overcoming adversity.
16. ‘Till I Collapse – Eminem
Eminem’s “‘Till I Collapse” was never released as a single but as part of a 2002 album entitled The Eminem Show. This pumping song is a favorite among adrenaline junkies searching for a pregame boost. Its message is to keep moving forward no matter how strong the urge to quit is.
17. 23 – Mike WiLL Made-It Featuring Miley Cyrus, Wiz Khalifa, And Juicy J
Released in 2013 by Mike WiLL Made It and company, “23” is a message and metaphor about how basketball resembles life. With lyrics referencing that life’s not fair, and sometimes, it takes ingenuity to not play by the book when times get tough. With its mid-tempo beat and Air Jordan references, it is among the most well-known songs about basketball.
18. Swish Swish – Katy Perry Featuring Nicki Minaj
Katy Perry released “Swish Swish” in 2017 as a part of her fifth studio album. The song tells the story of a basketball team playing another team with an insurmountable lead. Like many basketball songs, the message is an ode to never giving up, even when the nights are darkest.
19. Ridiculous – Kyrie Irving
“Ridiculous,” by NBA player Kyrie Irving, is a bit of an autobiographical song in which the lyrics reveal what it feels like to be a runaway basketball phenomenon. Its lyrics reveal how he was once the last chosen to play and, despite his underdog status, worked hard to achieve success.
20. Basketball Shoes – Black Country, New Road
Black Country, New Road is an English rock group formed in 2018. Although relatively new to the music scene, their basketball song, “Basketball Shoes,” speaks to games’ inherent ability to frustrate those who play. The music is driven and intense, like the game itself.
21. Lose Yourself – Eminem
Released in 2002 by Eminem, “Lose Yourself” tells of a young man’s struggles in the world of professional basketball. The lyrics of this number one Billboard Hot 200 single speak of the sacrifices the young man faces to achieve success as a professional athlete.
22. (I Know I Got) Skillz – Shaquille O’Neal
Debuting in 1993 by one of the NBA’s all-time greats, “(I Know I Got) Skillz” is a rap song by Shaquille O’Neal. He uses the song to tell the story of how he overcame life difficulties to create a new life, using ingenuity and athletic prowess. He reminds everyone that dedication and hard work truly develop opportunities.
23. Michael Jordan – Five for Fighting
Five For Fighting released “Michael Jordan” in 2000. In this basketball song, the singer, John Ondrasik, offers everything he owns—even his beloved piano, for a chance to be Jordan. Although Ondrasik is a rabid sports fan, the lyrics do poke fun at those who have no boundaries in the worship of sports legends.
24. Blow the Whistle – Too Short
Released in 2005 by Too Short, “Blow The Whistle” is one of the basketball songs used between the Washington Wizards and Cleveland Cavaliers during the NBA Playoffs in 2008. It was such a hit with basketball fans that it was featured on the NBA 2K13 soundtrack.
25. Fly Like an Eagle – Steve Miller Band
Released in 1976 by the Steve Miller Band, “Fly Like An Eagle” was a commercial hit on an album of the same name. It has a riveting, intense, but catchy beat that is often heard at sporting events around the world to inspire both athletes and fans.
26. Take the Shot – Ruben Studdard
“Take The Shot” was released on Ruben Studdard’s 2003 Soulful album. The song was written by Kasseem Dean and Harold Lilly. This Grammy-nominated artist speaks about the real meaning of the world despite his love of hardcourt legends.
27. They Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y.) – Pete Rock & CL Smooth
“They Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y.),” which was released in 1991, is ranked among legendary songs about basketball. The smooth sax will immediately transport you back in time to NBA Street Volume 2—among the best video basketball games ever released.
28. Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us – McFadden & Whitehead
Released in 1979 during the height of the disco era, “Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now” has withstood the test of time. McFadden & Whitehead recorded this memorable tune in Philadelphia, and the song has served as the theme song for several of the city’s sports franchises—the Phillies, Eagles, and 76ers.
29. The Heat is On – Glenn Frey
Glenn Frey, a founding member of the group the Eagles, released this solo tune for the movie Beverly Hills Cop in 1984. The song’s intense and driven beat is often played at basketball arenas and has been used at the 1985 World Series.
30. March Madness – Future
Released in 2015 by rapper Future on his 56 Nights album, “March Madness” has been Platinum certified, having sold more than 1 million digital copies in the U.S. While some may object to the lyrics, there is no doubt of the cultural influence this song has had on the world and March Madness.
31. We Will Rock You – Queen
“We Will Rock You” has been a sports anthem for decades, having been released in 1977 by the British rock band, Queen. Because it is so simple and so well-known, crowds of fans join and sing the chorus for an electrifying basketball moment.
As the Head Editor and Writer at Music Grotto, Liam helps write and edit content produced from professional music/media journalists and other contributing writers. He works closely with journalists and other staff to format and publish music content for the Music Grotto website. Liam is also the founding member of Music Grotto and is passionate in disseminating editorial content to its readers.
Liam’s lifelong love for music makes his role at Music Grotto such a rewarding one. He loves researching, writing and editing music content for Music Grotto.