Steven debuts his new weekly column comparing the playstyle of NBA legends to the sonic waves of music’s all-time icons. We’re tipping it off/counting it in the only way that felt right, with the GOAT and the Godfather.
Hello and welcome to the inaugural edition of Totally Sounds Like, a new weekly piece that takes an NBA legend’s on court ability/style and pairs it with an equally legendary artist’s sound/vibe in a unique and beautiful way that couldn’t have a better place to call home than right here at MMH.
As this series progresses and evolves over the weeks and months ahead my goal is to keep it fresh, topical, informative, creative, and rewarding. It felt like the only true way to tip this off/count it in was with the most recognizable NBA legend we have, but ultimately, we’ll take a dive into some forgotten or underappreciated legendary hoopers and the grooves of their respectively underappreciated, yet somehow-similar-sounding musical comps. Additionally, this is purely a comparison of an NBA players basketball playing abilities to a musician’s specific sound. We are not at all aiming to discuss anyone’s personal character, political affiliation, individual statements or anything outside of the art and sport that these names respectively dedicated their careers and lives to.
Now that we’ve established all of that, let’s jump right in.
Michael Jordan’s game TOTALLY SOUNDS LIKE James Brown.
Michael Jordan, His Airness, is largely regarded as basketball’s GOAT. I’m not here to tell you what to believe (take a breath Bron Bros of the world), but there’s no denying MJ did things on the court that made your jaw drop, jump off the coach, get hyped, inspired, empowered, and addicted to whatever gravity defying, art-in-motion greatness was to come next. A global icon who is a member of the 2009 Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame class, Jordan earned everything he has—whether that’s championships, MVPs, or endorsements—through his elite play on the court. His hang time, his jumpers, his clutch gene, his passion, and, above all, his unmatched competitiveness, turned NBA basketball into must-watch TV that has propelled and impacted the sport long after his (third and) final retirement in 2003. A performer molded for the bright lights, the massive pressure, and the judgment of an entire world, MJ highlights were made to be set to the soul-powered catalog of James Brown.
James Brown is widely known as the Godfather of Soul. How many people could even be considered for that title? JB more than earned it during a career that spanned five decades and was jam-packed with funky grooves, electric shows, and multi-generations’ worth of inspiration and innovation. A master of blues, R&B, and funk, Mr. Dynamite was among the first ten acts included in the inaugural Rock and Roll Hall of Fame class in 1986. His catalog is bursting with upbeat, uptempo jams that wake you up and get you jigging and bouncing! Dubbed “The Hardest Working Man in Show Business”, Brown maintained that prodigious work ethic for roughly 53 years, all the way up until his death on Christmas Day 2006 from pneumonia at the age of 73.
Explosive. Charismatic. Powerful. Graceful. Sweet. Smooth. Sugary. Spicy. Legendary. Undeniable passion. Invigorating energy. Unwavering consistency. Insane work-ethic. A truly “feel-good”, awe-inspiring, hard-earned product gifted to the masses as we all laid witness to the special achievements and inspiring results formed right before our very eyes that will live on much longer (and larger) than the men responsible for their existence.
For the full experience, I synced up the two videos linked below, muted the original audio of the highlights, and imagined JB as the inner voice of Jordan singing to the basketball that he, so effortlessly, maintains control of in his arms (or maybe he’s referring to the 6 Larrys?). Either way, enjoy!