The Making of an NBA Intro Video

January 11, 2013

The Brainstorming Session

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With the Cavaliers home opener set for Oct. 30, the team’s front office contacted Think Media Studios in early October. The Cavaliers relayed to Potoczak and Hardy a general outline of things they wanted to see in this season’s video.

”This year, they came to us and they had this ’fire’ idea. They wanted to use more fire. That was really their biggest thing,” Hardy said. ”So they just let us throw around some ideas, and a couple people on their staff had three or four ideas as well. They wanted to do more than one opener. Not all the ideas got thrown out. A lot of them stayed around because of the possibility that they could be used for other openers. We had about two days to really develop something.”

After spending those days brainstorming and forumlating a plan that would incorporate the ideas the Cavaliers organization had brought to them, Potoczak and Hardy met with the Cavs a second time to propose their concept.

”[Hardy] and I sat down and we started throwing around some ideas. Instantly we were like, maybe there won’t be a theme, but maybe let’s just do a music video. We’ll try [hip-hop artist and Cleveland native] Machine Gun Kelly. So that was our main idea that we wanted to pitch to them,” Potoczak said. When we got there, they went first; and literally the first thing they pitched was possibly doing something with Machine Gun Kelly. [Owner] Dan Gilbert was one of the head frontrunners about using Machine Gun Kelly.”

”It was almost identical,” Hardy said of each side’s pitch.

Having immediately agreed on using Machine Gun Kelly in the video, the guys still needed to address the Cavs’ request to make fire a focal point of the video.

”[The Cavs] like to tell a story in their openers. So in this one, the fire burns inside of the players and the fans and the city, and it kind of bursts out. So we thought why don’t we combine the two? We’ll make it a music video, but we’ll show the players sort of erupting on fire as it goes,” Potoczak said.

The idea was born. The guys would model this season’s intro as a music video starring a Cleveland artist, while adding fire as a special effect. With the blueprint in place, it was time to create the visuals.

The Shoot

Cleveland Cavaliers Intro Video

Five minutes before tip-off, every arena in the NBA turns the lights off. For just a moment, a building that will bombard fans with noise, light and action for two-and-a-half hours is pitch dark.

Then, the jumbotron comes to life. In Chicago, the screen shows a pack of bulls galloping through the city. In Houston, a space shuttle orbits a distant planet, dropping off a uniformed Jeremy Lin and James Harden somewhere far from earth. Music begins, the highlight reel starts and the arena goes wild. The NBA intro video has become a staple of the professional basketball experience, with each team trying to outdo its previous year's video to get their players and fans as amped as possible before the tipoff.

In Cleveland, Keith Potoczack and Ryan Hardy of Think Media Studios have been cooking up the Cavaliers' introduction video for four seasons now. While many NBA teams just go with a standard montage of their players gripping a basketball and mean-mugging for the camera, Potoczak, Hardy and the Cavs have shown a tendency to think outside the box. During the last season of LeBron James's tenure, the intro video featured each player as a landmark in Cleveland. Last season, the video didn't feature a single player, opting for shots of downtown Cleveland and a spoken word story about the city instead. For the 2012-2013 campaign, the guys threw Cleveland hip-hop artist Machine Gun Kelly into the mix, creating a huge buzz when they debuted the video on Oct. 30.

"(The Cavs have) always pushed three focuses. It’s team, fans and city. Always. It’s been like that ever since LeBron left," Potoczak said.

In Cleveland, distancing from the LeBron era can be felt throughout the intro video. We spoke with Potoczak and Hardy to get the inside scoop on what exactly went into creating this year's video. Click the button below to find out how the guys arrived at this year's concept.


Jordan Zirm
- Jordan Zirm is an Associate Content Director for STACK. After earning his BS in Journalism from the University of Missouri, he spent time writing for...
Jordan Zirm
- Jordan Zirm is an Associate Content Director for STACK. After earning his BS in Journalism from the University of Missouri, he spent time writing for...


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