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Jason Sudeikis and Tim Robinson's SNL Roundball Rock Sketch Is the Supreme NBA Theme

"Ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-basketball, gimme gimme gimme the ball, 'cause I'm gonna DUNK IT!" 

By Samantha Vincenty

The anthemic opening of NBC's '90s-era "Roundball Rock" NBA theme activates basketball fans of a certain age, instantly elevating their heart rate as the wordless tune pings their brain with an urgent message. A message that's set to the rhythm of the theme's notes — one that might go something like: "Ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-basketball, gimme gimme gimme the ball, 'cause I'm gonna DUNK IT!" 

How to Watch

Watch Saturday Night Live Saturdays at 11:30/10:30c on NBC and next day on Peacock.  

NBC's iconic NBA song aired on the network from 1990 to 2002, imprinting the catchy theme on a generation. A generation that includes Saturday Night Live Season 38 cast members Jason Sudeikis and Tim Robinson, who co-starred in an April 13, 2013 "Roundball Rock" sketch that posited an alternate version of the jock jam.

The real "Roundball Rock" was famously composed by John Tesh, who was a longtime presenter on Entertainment Tonight and a mid-'90s Olympics commentator. NBC brought "Roundball Rock" back in 2021 to soundtrack men and women's basketball at the Tokyo Olympics, and you'll be the first to know if it gets a replay in the 2024 summer games

SNL's "Roundball Rock" sketch, which co-stars Host Vince Vaughn, finds John Tesh (Sudeikis) presenting his new theme to NBC Sports executives (Vaughn, Kenan Thompson, and Kate McKinnon) back in 1990. Featured Player Tim Robinson plays John's heretofore unknown co-composer and (fictional) brother, Dave Tesh.

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Kate McKinnon, Kenan Thompson, Vince Vaughn, Tim Robinson and Jason Sudeikis on Saturday Night Live Episode 1638

Jason Sudeikis and Tim Robinson star in SNL's "Roundball Rock" sketch

Years before Jason Sudeikis would parlay a character he created for NBC Sports into the main protagonist of his critically-acclaimed Ted Lasso, he was an SNL cast member from 2005-2013. "Roundball Rock" came at the tail-end of his storied time on the show, while it was the lone year Robinson was a cast member before going on to create the Emmy-winning sketch series I Think You Should Leave. 

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In the sketch, the Tesh brothers arrive to their meeting in coordinated silk vests before unveiling their vision for the NBA theme. As John Tesh (Sudeikis) passionately backs his brother on a keyboard with the song we all know and love, Dave Tesh (Robinson) delivers extremely ITYSL-esque lyrics that confound the executives. 

"You are in such good voice today buddy," Sudeikis' Tesh tells his bro. When Vaughn's character asks them to run it through again but "with the lyrics separated out," they oblige, and Robinson goes solo before Thompson's exec cuts in with a "stop that."

The brothers can't fathom how the song could work without its winning lyrics — or more accurately, sole lyric. 

"Well the lyrics are a little repetitive," McKinnon's character tells them.

"Uhhh, basketball's a little repetitive," Dave Tesh shoots back. 

Ultimately, the Teshes receive an ultimatum: It's the instrumental "Roundball Rock" or nothing. Their actions in response, which involve two small hammers and a can of gasoline, must've been incredibly fun for Sudeikis and Robinson to perform.

Watch Saturday Night Live's "Roundball Rock" sketch above.

Jason Sudeikis' John Tesh was based on the real person performing "Roundball Rock"

While John Tesh doesn't actually have a brother named Dave, the SNL sketch does somewhat mirror real life.

Exhibit A: This video of John Tesh playing the original answering machine message that he left himself as a way to record his idea for the "Roundball Rock" tune. Note his wardrobe, identical to Sudeikis' in the sketch, and enjoy his rollicking rendition of the original.