Michael Jordan

How the Bulls' iconic starting lineup intro changed sports and in-arena entertainment forever

A history of the greatest starting lineup introduction in all of sports and how it pioneered a cultural movement in sports and entertainment

NBC Universal, Inc.

Back in 1984, Tommy Edwards settled into his seat at the Biograph Theater to catch a movie with his wife when some ambient music started playing in the background.

“I told my wife, ‘I know this song. It’s Sirius by the Alan Parsons Project,’” Edwards, a longtime disc jockey and radio programmer at WLS, told NBC Sports Chicago's K.C. Johnson in 2019. “The more I listened to it, I’m thinking, ‘Wait a minute. This could be the Bulls’ song.’”

The next day, Edwards bought the vinyl album, put it on his turntable at home and started practicing the Bulls’ starting lineup behind it.

“And because it has so many great parts to its intro—a new guitar part or crescendo—it worked great,” Edwards said. “The Bulls loved it immediately. Michael (Jordan) loved it. That’s been the opening lineup music ever since.”

The song actually has become a cultural phenomenon, played at weddings and bar mitzvahs and in sporting venues around the world. And it has lasted at the United Center beyond Edwards, who served his last game as Bulls public address announcer in November 2019.

Edwards, whose innovations and broadcasting chops helped transform in-game sports entertainment, worked in the role from 1976-1981 and 1983-1990 at the old Chicago Stadium and again from 2006 to 2019 at the United Center. He missed the championship years as his successful radio career took him to Boston and Los Angeles.

When the Bulls drafted Jordan, marketing officials worked with Edwards to come up with something special for the potential star. They had already teamed to be the first in the league to turn off the lights for starting lineup introductions in 1977. At first, Edwards used Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” to introduce Jordan and the other starters. Some games, he’d experiment with the theme song from the hit TV show “Miami Vice.”

And then Edwards heard “Sirius,” the instrumental introduction to the song “Eye In The Sky.”

By this time, Edwards had begun using his “Aaaaaand now . . .” prelude to the starting lineup introductions. Per his then-young daughter’s request, he had permanently settled on using “the man in the middle” for the starting center intro after first trying the more simple “in the middle.”

While the introduction was Edwards' invention, his successor, Ray Clay, became the voice of the dynasty.

"I was the right guy in the right place at the right time," Clay told The Ringer in 2018.

Clay held the role from 1990 to 2002. By the time Edwards returned to the organization in 2006, his iconic introduction was forever tied to the greatness of Michael Jordan and the Bulls' six NBA titles.

The song itself is a nearly two-minute instrumental written and performed by British rock band the Alan Parsons Project, and was the first track on the band's sixth studio album, which was released in 1982. Alan Parsons had already been hugely successful in the music industry, having served as the sound engineer on albums like the Beatles' "Abbey Road" and "Let it Be," and Pink Floyd's "The Dark Side of the Moon."

To this day, the Bulls use "Sirius" with their starting lineup introductions for all home games. Tim Sinclair, who is entering his fourth season as the team's current PA announcer, even uses the same exact cadence when yelling out the starting five.

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