From the press release treasure trove that is :

Iconic rockers DEF LEPPARD and TIM MCGRAW will add another notch to their belts of legendary rock anthems when “Nine Lives” ” the highly anticipated first single off DEF LEPPARD‘s new studio album, “Songs From The Sparkle Lounge” (April 29, Bludgeon Riffola/Island/UMe), becomes the featured track in a special opening segment recorded for NBA games airing on ABC. The open will be featured on game broadcasts on ABC through the rest of the season and on ABC and ESPN into the playoffs.

Exclusive new video footage was recently shot for the special opening segment with both artists in Los Angeles last week. The video will debut this Sunday, March 9 on ABC as the lead-in to the NBA game between the San Antonio Spurs and Phoenix Suns at 3:30 p.m. ET.

“The relationship for NBA on ABC to feature the pairing of two iconic artist with DEF LEPPARD and TIM MCGRAW is the perfect evolution of the music associated with NBA broadcast that has included BLACK EYED PEAS, ROB THOMAS, DESTINY’S CHILD and TOM PETTY,” said David Saltz, Executive Producer for Music at ABC.

The foundation for the album’s collaboration with McGraw was laid at DEF LEPPARD‘s 2006 Hollywood Bowl show where McGraw joined the band on stage for an encore performance of “Pour Some Sugar On Me”. The artists stayed in touch following the performance, and when the band started writing the song “Nine Lives” they immediately thought of reaching out to McGraw to sing on it. Guitarist Phil Collen (above) flew to Nashville to play it for McGraw, who loved it and recorded the song in Nashville shortly after.

Cynics amongst you might well say, “what in blazes could Def Leppard and Tim McGraw have in common (besides belonging to that mutual admiration society all true rock icons are a part of)?”. Well, as a reader of this classy blog, you’re probably aware McGraw is the offspring of late Mets/Phillies reliever Tug McGraw.

What you might not know, is that there was a very strong bond between Tug and Def Leppard drummer Rick Allen that until now, has gone unexplored by the rock press or mainstream sports media.