The Making of an NBA Intro Video

January 11, 2013

Creating the Content

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The most difficult part of the whole process for Potoczak and Hardy was trying to nail down a date to film the Cavs players. The pre-season was in full swing, and the team had fewer and fewer free days as the season inched closer. After their concept was approved, Cavaliers general manager Chris Grant informed the guys that they could film the players on one of two dates—Oct. 10 or Oct. 18. The dates gave the guys a very short time to put the video together.

”Obviously, we took the tenth,” Potoczak said. ”But we still didn’t know if we could [get that date], so they had to check. That’s eight wasted days right there if we don’t get that.”

Fortunately, Oct. 10 was approved, and the Think Media team headed to the Cleveland Clinic practice courts to begin the filming process. They weren’t given much time.

”We got the players for like ten minutes,” Hardy said.

”80 percent of the prep work before the shoot is how to make it as fast as possible. We will spend double the money just because whatever they tell you they’re going to give you, cut it in half. It’s crazy,” Potoczak said, echoing Hardy’s sentiment.

”What you see in this year’s open [which you can watch on slide six], the locker room scene, that’s on greenscreen. I was running that set. [In] the court shots, where they’re on the practice court in the gold uniforms, Ryan was running that set. It’s actually pretty funny because they are like ’Oh, so and so is coming out first,’ and then ten minutes later, you turn around and there are 12 guys lined up behind you and they’re all like ’Let’s go!’ We made shot for shot what we wanted from each guy. It’s just chaos,” Potoczak continued.

Aside from keeping things moving, the guys also had to make sure each player was featured equally in the video. The post-LeBron Cavs are all about team, not an individual player, and that message had to be communicated through the intro.

”It’s team, fans and city. Always,” Potoczack said.

While point guard Kyrie Irving is certainly the star and the most marketable player on the team, his camera time in the intro is not substantially more than, say, undrafted free agent John Leuer.

”The Cavs are very careful about who they  focus on and who they shine the light on. Everyone’s got to be represented at least once. They don’t want this guy sitting by this guy. All sorts of stuff. That’s always just an ongoing theme around the whole thing,” Potoczak said.

Fortunately, the 2012-2013 Cavaliers are an egoless, patient bunch, and there were no major problems. As long as they kept things moving, the players were satisfied. Veterans like Daniel ”Boobie” Gibson and Anderson Varejao still get excited to shoot the video every year. For second-year players Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson, this season’s video was their first, since last year’s version didn’t include players. Rookie Tyler Zeller was ecstatic. All in all, it’s an enjoyable but chaotic experience.

”It’s crazy but at the end of the day, you’re like, ’whoa, what did we get?’ I don’t even know. You try to avoid anything that will make [the players] feel cheesy. I had to have them all sit in different directions, because we don’t even know which way we’re going to line them up. Just keep it simple, keep it fast and they’re OK with it,” Potoczak said.

Potoczak, Hardy and their crew shot the players both individually, dunking and showing off their ball-handling skills, and as a unit, huddled in front of a greenscreen which would eventually become a locker room. They were then ready to shoot Machine Gun Kelly’s scenes.


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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