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2016 NBA All-Star Game halftime show: Sting is an odd headliner to the main event

The former lead singer/guitarist of The Police will appeal to the older crowd, as the NBA sways from the traditional pop performers.

Christopher Polk/Getty Images

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:

  1. He's not exactly the type of musician that is extremely popular with current NBA stars or young fans alike.
  2. 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in 2014 (who performed in a group with many current jazz/punk stars), the league has never chosen a performer as old or outdated as Sting.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.
  3. 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any big hits or albums recently, besides the recent announcement that he'll be doing a summer tour with equally outdated '80s star Peter Gabriel.
  4. 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.
Ne-Yo will perform the National Anthem, Nelly Furtado will do the Canadian National Anthem, and Walk the Moon will play before the Slam Dunk Contest on Saturday. Perhaps strangest of all, fans at the Air Canada Centre will be treated to a performance by circus performers Cirque du Soleil during the player introductions Sunday.

After the initial announcement two weeks ago, fans on Twitter were decidedly not pleased with the decision:

Even Toronto's most famous politician/bad boy Rob Ford got in his opinion.

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.