The hair-raising tradition that began at the Chicago Stadium transferred to the United Center. And it kept its chilling effect.
The whole place would go dark for a few seconds, allowing an atmosphere to build off of bass snippets echoing through the arena. Then a spotlight would point toward the championship banners -- the Bulls had three by the time the United Center opened -- putting more than 18,000 people in the building in a trance-like state.
Then the music would kick in, followed by Ray Clay's iconic “Aaaand now, the starting lineup for your Chicago Bulls!” intro (adopted from his predecessor, Tommy Edwards), creating a can't-miss spectacle that became a trademark of one of the greatest NBA dynasties ever.
"I found the song"
But perhaps the most iconic thing about the Bulls' pregame ritual was the theme song. “Sirius,” the prelude to Alan Parsons Projects' Eye in the Sky, was first introduced to basketball fans in the late 80s after Edwards picked it up in a theater.
"One night, my wife, Mary Lou, and I went to a movie at the Biograph Theater," Tommy said. "Before the movie started, the theater had some ambient music playing in the background. I leaned over to Mary Lou and said, “I know this song. It’s called ‘Sirius.’ It’s the instrumental opening to the Alan Parsons Project [album] Eye in the Sky,” which I’d remembered playing on WLS when it was released."
"I said, 'Oh my god! This might be the theme to the Bulls intro.' The next day, I got the Eye in the Sky record and played 'Sirius' over and over, practicing reading the starting lineup with the track. Then I called the Bulls and said, 'I think I found the song.'”
Tommy Edwards, The Ringer
"Who is Michael Jordan?"
Alan Parsons, a British engineer and producer who worked with the Beatles and Pink Floyd before starting his own band, certainly never envisioned one of his songs to enter the NBA annals. Perhaps that's why it took him a while to realize what was going in.
Parsons heard through the grapevine his song had become popular at basketball games. He wasn't a fan. So he had to ask: 'Who is Michael Jordan?'”
Excerpt From Dynasties by Marcus Thompson II
Parsons did cross paths with Jordan at the “Michael Jordan to the Max,” premiere in 2000. He approached the Bulls legend and said, "Michael, you probably don’t know who I am, but I wrote your walk-on music."
Jordan's puzzlement said it all.
The two created one of the most iconic basketball experiences ever, from the starting five intro to every final buzzer at the United Center. And up until that point, they had never heard of each other.