Last year, the NBA All-Star Game featured Ariana Grande as the halftime performance in New York City. In 2013, Houston featured Alicia Keys at halftime, and 2012 had Pitbull, Chris Brown and Ne-Yo in Orlando. The 2011 game in Los Angeles featured possibly the king of all halftime acts: Rihanna, Drake and Kanye West.
Naturally, the league decided the best option for Sunday's game in Toronto was Sting, the 64 year-old former lead man of The Police. According to the NBA, Sting (his birth name is Gordon Sumner) will perform a compilation of many of his biggest hits, both with The Police and as a solo act.
The appointing of Sting is a little weird for several reasons:
- He's not exactly the type of musician that is extremely popular with current NBA stars or young fans alike.
- With the exception of Earth, Wind & Fire in 2014 (who performed in a group with many current jazz/punk stars), the league has never chosen a performer as old or outdated as Sting. This breaks harshly with the tradition of chart-topping pop stars.
- He hasn't released any big hits or albums recently, besides the recent announcement that he'll be doing a summer tour with equally outdated '80s star Peter Gabriel.
- As many were quick to point out, if the NBA wished to find a local Canadian to perform at halftime, there are plenty of more famous options to go with. The Weekend? Justin Bieber? Some guy named Drake, just to name a few.
Courtside, watching Sting at #NBAAllStarTO pic.twitter.com/9Y8MC4vFf0
— Mark De Angelis (@DeAngelisMark) January 28, 2016
no drake at the all star game in toronto?!?! old man sting is performing?! i am... disgusted. fix it @Raptors— ren (@ohnogurl) January 28, 2016
I'm trying to come up with a more out there NBA All-Star halftime performer than Sting and I don't know is Up With People still around.— Michael Kelminson (@mjk2341) January 28, 2016
NBA Focus Group
"Ok, I'll say a word and you say the first thing that you associate with that word.... basketball"
— Keith Dunne (@KeithDunneNL) January 28, 2016
Even Toronto's most famous politician/bad boy Rob Ford got in his opinion.
Really @Toronto2016? Sting? What were your backup options, Cher and the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra? How about some TORONTO talent!
— Rob Ford (@TorontoRobFord) January 28, 2016
Of course, as the Raptors' most famous fan, Drake will be present for at least a couple appearances throughout this weekend. He'll coach one of the celebrity teams in the All-Star Celebrity Game Friday night, along with comedian Kevin Hart.
As far as the Sting decision, only time will tell if the NBA were wise to waver from a tradition of pop stars. If they were looking for something drastically different than previous years, they certainly accomplished their mission.