It’s the song that defined a sport, and brings back memories for years to come. Listening to John Tesh’s “Roundball Rock” turns back time to the NBA in the ‘90s and recalls names like Jordan, Shaq, Barkley, and Iverson. But what fans might not know is that, before it became the iconic theme for the NBA on NBC, it was born from an answering machine recording.
John Tesh is the ultimate jack-of-all trades. While many remember him as the former host of “Entertainment Tonight” and NBC Sports, Tesh is also a musician, composer, and radio host. While Tesh was at NBC, they acquired the rights to broadcast the NBA and were looking for a theme song. At the time, Tesh wasn’t yet a recognized composer. But when he heard that his employer was looking for an NBA theme, he knew he had to come up with something. One night in France, he got an idea — only there was one problem.
“I realized that I didn't have a keyboard with me in that hotel room, I didn’t have manuscript paper. And I realized if I didn't record it somehow it would be gone,” he explained.
So Tesh did the next best thing, he called his answering machine in New York City and left a message for himself. Just like that, “Roundball Rock” was born.
It became a major hit with NBA fans, and it still has a huge following to this day. The song is so popular today that Tesh plays it at all of his shows. It was even parodied on SNL. Not bad for a song he thought would only get a couple of months play on the air.