The NBA’s All-Star Game typically isn’t all that memorable. I’m sure it’s a lovely experience for those actually in attendance, but for the fans at home, it’s a semi-entertaining night that eventually loses its flair. Maybe there’s a dunk that’s highlighted on Monday, but by Tuesday we’ve moved on forever. What do you even remember from the 2018 game?
Fergie dared to be different during her national anthem performance, and it was spectacular. Inspiring, even. Not because it was good; it was awful. But she took a risk on a scale few would ever consider going for. An already established, extremely famous celebrity, Fergie could have just done the norm. But she had her legacy in mind, and a desire to do something greater.
The failed anthem has its place in NBA lore. It waged an online war between Draymond Green and Josh Duhamel, sparked some genius to make a remix to her anthem and for the Warriors to dance as a group to said remix, and made every fan listening to a performance at a sporting event expect something more. Something daring, for better or worse.
In case you need a refresher, here’s how her national anthem performance went last year:
- Draymond giving us the meme of the month as he bursted out laughing
- Steph Curry failing to contain his laughter (and then liking tweets about how bad the performance was on Twitter)
- Jimmy Kimmel laughing
- Chance The Rapper laughing
- LeBron James laughing
- Charles Barkley requesting a cigarette
- A line that went “woaahoaohaooahahhhh seeyeyayyyayyy”
- “Let’s play some basketball.”
It was the complete package.
Fergie’s rendition was such a spectacle, it had two lives
Had this night been a one-off, maybe we wouldn’t be talking about it so much. But as recently as October, the “sexy anthem,” as some deemed it, was brought back to the spotlight.
Fergie’s ex-husband, Duhamel, sought an apology from Green:
Welcome to #NBATwitter Josh Duhamel. #DraymondGreen On today's @FairGameonFS1 at 5:30pm ET. pic.twitter.com/Zz0P6bsKlh— Kristine Leahy (@KristineLeahy) October 25, 2018
That didn’t go over well.
It’s what inspired most of the Warriors team to dance to a remix of the song in the locker room and share it on Instagram. (Later, Duhamel conceded on Twitter and Green clarified that he “never meant to disrespect” Fergie.)
Amazingly, this anthem had a second life eight months later, further cementing its significance and willingness to never be forgotten.
Fergie’s risk is a leap of faith we should all take at some point
Fergie embraced the backlash of her bold attempt that went horribly wrong, and even unnecessarily apologized for it a day later.
“I’ve always been honored and proud to perform the national anthem and last night I wanted to try something special for the NBA. I’m a risk taker artistically, but clearly this rendition didn’t strike the intended tone. I love this country and honestly tried my best,” she said.
And she isn’t wrong. This was a risk — a damn big one that went all the way wrong — but a memorable one. I look back at Fergie’s moment and interpret it in two ways: in both the basketball sense and the real-life sense.
Let’s start with basketball. Fergie’s jazzy, sexy anthem was in many ways like the Sixers “process”. She took a smoldering hot mess of a chance at landing something perfect — like a Joel Embiid — and instead pulled up at training camp with a Darko Milicic. And that’s a risk someone with the money, wealth and respect Fergie has, never needed to take. But she didn’t want to be the middling Washington Wizards of pop music. That’s admirable.
Then there’s the real life takeaway here to go outside your comfort zone, take some blows to the face, and wash away the backlash with kindness. This is real here. Maybe you won’t have a platform the size of Fergie’s but you will be presented with a similar scenario to Fergie’s.
Will you do merely what’s expected? Or will you let that bbaaayyaanneeerrr yeehhet wwwwaayyaaayyvve?