Always the leaders, the Miami Heat were the first NBA team to hire an in-game arena DJ that would be in charge of the musical presentation when they acquired the talents of DJ Irie starting with the 1999-2000 season.
This is Miami, baby. Just playing the standards on an organ isn't going to be enough down here. That's fine for a team like the Atlanta Hawks, but the Magic City is just too cutting-edge for that. The rest is history, with many teams following suit after the popularity of DJ Irie. Despite a lack of an All-Star event in Miami since he began working for the Heat, DJ Irie has nonetheless been the official All-Star turntablist for ten straight seasons as well.
Count Pat Riley as one of his biggest fans, though he's more of a Bruce Springsteen kind of a guy. As told by DJ Irie to ESPN earlier this year during the All-Star break in Houston, the coaching legend took him aside a few years ago to praise the DJ for his work in setting the perfect mood at the AmericanAirlines Arena and told him this:
"You know what? When you first got here, I didn't get it. This guy is loud. He's doing all this crazy stuff. But I'm really happy to tell you now that I get it. And not only do I get it, but I see what you do night in and night out, and I see how the fans react to what you do, and it's probably one of the most amazing things."
That's likely the experience for an out-of-towner if they catch a Heat game but eventually even they "get it". Incorporating the latest hits, many of which are suggested by LeBron James and the rest of the players, but also keeping it real with the classics like Glenn Frye's seminal Eighties classic "The Heat Is On" - the theme for home victories since the team's inception back in 1988, AA Arena simply does not believe in dead air during Heat games and with all the winning going on during the Big 3 era, it's practically necessary with so many cheering and dancing fans after a LeBron fast break thunderous dunk or a timely Ray Allen corner three-pointer. When things are going rough, he's there to pick the Heat fans' spirits up so that they can, in turn, root on the players and will them to victory.
They've even augmented the musical presentation with the Latino-flavored ensemble Miami HEAT Rhythm Section two seasons ago. Brothers Archie and Carlos Pena and friend Freddie Rincon take the percussion during timeouts and other breaks in the action to another level, specifically in Section 124 in full Heat gear and a full compliment of instruments. The effect of hearing Phil Collins' "In the Air Tonight" - the theme song to the Heat's 2010-11 season intro video and still used frequently - intertwined with the Rhythm Section percussion playing along with Collins' already bombastic drums creates a stereo effect that's pretty awesome.
Anyone still want to hear that church organ again?