Late in a win over the Phoenix Suns in the fall of 2018, I half-jokingly tweeted an observation about their team success when a Biggie classic played during an offensive possession. What transpired from there was a season-long quest to figure out if any songs that played had a noticeable impact on Philadelphia’s success on the floor.
As a frame of reference before we get going, here are some of the NBA’s leaders in volume in different play type categories, along with their average points per possession on those plays, to compare the numbers to:
ISOLATION: James Harden, 1.12 points per possession
TRANSITION: Giannis Antetokounmp, 1.12 PPP
PICK AND ROLL, BALLHANDLER: Trae Young, 0.98 PPP
POST-UP: Joel Embiid, 1.12 PPP
Play the freaking hits
One thing that became clear right away is the absolute dominance of New York-based rap during Sixers games. Of the 37 songs played enough to represent a statistically significant sample, 21 of them originated from Big Apple in some form or fashion.