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Billboard: What’s it Like to Be An NBA DJ

Image of DJ D Sharp Courtesy of Golden State Warriors

Billboard: What’s it Like to Be An NBA DJ

(Courtesy BILLBOARD)

By Katie Bain

DJs for 16 NBA teams talk about the pressures and glories of selecting the soundtracks for each season.

The job of an NBA DJ isn’t just about blasting bangers through arena-sized speakers. It’s a feat of athleticism in and of itself: a precisely coordinated, rapidly paced job which demands that DJs select the right song at the right moment for the right length of time. Those decisions can turn triumphant sporting moments into joyful crowd frenzies — or offer consolation after tough losses. “There’s a lot of pressure running in-game vamps while being prepared for mandatory and unexpected timeouts,” says the Houston Rockets’ DJ Palmo, whose job also includes crafting and playing a 10- to 15-minute pre-game mix for every home game. “Nothing is constant, and anything can change within a matter of seconds. You must always stay ready.” And lest anyone think this is all just background music, the music played during a game can impact the team, too. When Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr remarked that the Phoenix Suns’ Footprint Center had a noisy “South Beach club” atmosphere after a Warriors loss there last fall, Suns DJ Chris Villa made headlines after remixing Kerr’s comment into a dance track. (Kerr jokingly wore headphones to a press conference for a subsequent game in Phoenix.) Each of the NBA’s 30 teams has its own in-house DJ (or in some cases, co-DJs) to commandeer the decks for home games. Some of these DJs landed their gigs through connections with team leadership and players, while others arrived at the jobs more serendipitously, but they’re all responsible for controlling the energy of the crowd, hitting the quickly moving cues of each game and setting a tone that’s appropriate for all the players, coaches, fans and families inside the building.

Here, ahead of the NBA’s 2024 All-Star Weekend, DJs from 16 NBA teams — some of them lifelong fans of the teams they now work for — share their essential songs, peak moments and other winning memories from their work selecting the soundtracks for each season.

DJ D SHARP, Golden State Warriors

DJ D Sharp Photo : Courtesy of Golden State Warriors

How did you get the NBA gig?

The first Warriors DJ, DJ Solomon, saw me performing with Blackalicous and asked me to DJ a set with him at a Warriors game. After that, I would fill in for him. Then, in 2012 DJ Solomon was in a fatal accident, and the Warriors offered me the job. It was definitely bittersweet for me. Rest in Peace DJ Solomon. What’s your go–to song to pump up the crowd?

What’s your go–to song to pump up the crowd?

There are several, but I would pick a House remix I did of E-40’s “Choices.”

What’s the best musical moment you’ve had while DJing a game?

One is the 2015 Finals Game 6 when we won the championship. The team was away, and I was playing a watch party at the packed Oracle Arena [in Oakland, Calif.]. That was the best energy I ever felt from fans. The second is [in March 2019] when I got word that Nipsey Hustle had been shot but hadn’t passed yet. I played “Last Time That I Checc’d” during a timeout, and the whole team got up and danced to pay respect to Nipsey.

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