While the Super Bowl may get all the winter sporting event musical performance headlines, the NBA All-Star Weekend has churned out some pretty great tunage over the years. Here's our list of the top five musical performances from All-Star Weekends past. Oh, and a note: yes, I know Vanilla Ice performed at halftime in 1992. Trust me, he was this close to making the cut.
#5: Mariah Carey Pays Tribute to MJ (2003)
Michael Jordan played his final NBA All-Star game in 2003, and the NBA went all out for his in-game honors. At halftime, Mariah Carey donned two different variants of MJ jerseys--one Bulls, one Wizards--and gave him one high-pitched sendout. Not prime Mariah by any means, but enough to lead Michael to get on stage and cry.
#4: Harry Connick Jr., Branford Marsalis, and Friends Go NOLA (2008)
In 2008, the NBA All-Star Game visited New Orleans for the first time. The event came three and a half years after Hurricane Katrina had hit the city, and less than two years after the Hornets returned to the New Orleans Arena from their temporary stay in Oklahoma City. For the player introductions, Harry Connick, Jr. and Branford Marsalis welcomed a bevy of New Orleans musicians like Kermit Ruffins and the Rebirth Brass Band to tear the house down. Marsalis would then join singer Stephanie Jordan and guitarist Jonathan Dubose, Jr. for a very solid version of the Star-Spangled Banner. During halftime, Dr. John would also make his presence felt, Night Tripping his way through "What a Wonderful World."
#3: The Temptations Bring Harmony to America (1984)
I cannot tell you 100% exactly who was in this Temptations lineup. I am pretty sure it's Otis Williams, Melvin Franklin, Richard Street, Ron Tyson, and Dennis Edwards, before he was kicked out for being a drunk. Whoever was involved in this performance of the Star-Spangled Banner (I'll let you figure it out; research is FUNdamental!), it showed that aging gentlemen still know how to make sweet, sweet harmony. That's what I call American unity.
#2: Branford Marsalis and Bruce Hornsby Ride the Wave of Jingoism (1991)
Another Branford Marsalis-featuring Star Spangled Banner? Yep. Sorry folks. Not my fault the man loves America more than anyone else. Or at least any other saxophone player. Except for Dave Koz. The Koz bleeds red, white, and blue. Trust. Regardless, Marsalis' love for America is on full display here. The 1991 All-Star Game took place mere weeks after the You Ess of Ay began its aerial bombing campaign against Iraq, thereby beginning the combat portion of the Gulf War. It's easy to forget the patriotic fervor that swept through the country around this time, but I still have the Desert Storm trading cards to prove it. And I have this video to prove it. And I have the video of Whitney Houston absolutely crushing the National Anthem a few weeks earlier at the Super Bowl to prove it. Both this performance and Whitney's are enough to give any Yankee chills, no matter his or her own pacifistic tendencies.
#1: Marvin Gaye Gets An Entire Audience Pregnant (1983)
Man. Woman. Child. I don't care. Everyone who heard this performance of the Star Spangled Banner live immediately had a baby with America. Seriously, have you ever heard the National Anthem done so sexy? No, you haven't, because this is the only time it's ever happened, and that's because there's only one person who could have done it. Was this even the Star Spangled Banner? Because it doesn't really sound like it. It sounds like sweet nothings being whispered into your ear while eagles soar above your naked body. It sounds like Marvin Gaye, basically. And it is, therefore, The Best.