Did you grow up obsessed with the NBA in the late eighties? Were your hands large enough to work a VCR? Then it’s very likely you wore out a couple NBA Superstars VHS tapes like I did.
For those that aren’t in the know, “NBA Superstars” was the 1980’s answer to And1 mixtape. In the form a VHS videotape, it was a combination of the NBA and cheesy music videos from that era. Depending on which video tape you had, it was a mixture of 13 video highlight clips of the best NBA players from the 1980’s: Magic, Larry, Michael along with music videos for Hakeem Olajuwon, Isiah Thomas, Charles Barkley, and Dominique Wilkins.
The duration of each superstar’s video was between 3-4 minutes and was augmented by mostly rock, rap, and pop music (though it ventured into country and international, too).
So I was quite happy to see that many of those grainy VHS videos have since been uploaded onto YouTube for all generations to enjoy. I am surprised I hadn’t thought of it before:
Here’s Magic Johnson music video set to the music of Janet Jackson’s “Control”:
John Cougar Mellencamp’s “Small Town” the soundtrack for Larry Bird.
A slow song, but it works: Michael Jordan highlights aligned with Berlin’s “Take My Breath Away”:
My favorite player from that era, Isiah Thomas, had the “Right Stuff” by Vanessa Williams:
This might be my favorite video of all the individual superstar clips only because I grew to love the song so much. Charles Barkley scowling, yelling, dunking ferociously to “The Warrior” by Scandal:
Most people won’t remember the Pre-Hakeem, Akeem Olajuwon highlights because his best years came in the 1990s. Watch Olajuwon dribble to “How Ya Like Me Now” by Kool Moe Dee
Another slow song for another dynamic player. I mean you’re going to pick Yanni’s “Looking Glass” for the Human Highlight Film? The video works, but it spends much of the video setting up the dunks by Dominique Wilkins.
I can’t tell if it works or it’s just because I watched “NBA Superstars” so much that I got used to it.
In addition to individual superstar videos, some versions of the NBA Superstars tape came with video mixes of league highlights. My favorite two were:
Guy’s “Teddy’s Jam”:
“Teddy’s Jam” may be my favorite video on the entire tape. It’s a shame that the video doesn’t have sound due to copyright restrictions. Does anyone know where I can find one with sound?
Another fast video montage of many of the league’s players set to Herbie Hancock’s “Rockit”:
There were two other league compilations featuring NBA legends throughout the years (“This Is The Time” by Billy Joel) and one video dedicated to small NBA players: Mark Price, Michael Adams, Spud Webb, John Stockton, and Muggsy Bogues (“Tuff Enuff” by the Thuderbirds).
Rounding out the video were unfortunate music videos for Dr. J (Julius Erving) and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Why were they unfortunate? Because both players were near the end of their careers and the videos focused more on a retrospective than exciting highlights. The kicker? The videos were set to lame music: Whitney Houston’s “Greatest Love of All” and “I’m So Happy (Skyhooking)”. Really?
Outside of the Dr. J and Kareem videos, the original NBA Superstars was perfect in every other way. It was so good that they released Volume 2 in 1993 and then Volume 3 in 1995. Of course both couldn’t capture the magic like the first videotape.