NBA All-Star Weekend is no stranger to elite talent and entertainment. It is the home of the world’s best 24 basketball players so it is fair to assume we would see some of the world’s best musicians and artists involved throughout the festivities. Those assumptions are well-founded and accurate.
If there is a common thread between most of the entertainers slated to perform this weekend it is their connection to the city of Chicago.
On Friday, The Chicago Children’s Choir will sing “The Star-Spangled Banner” before the World takes on the USA in the Rising Stars game. The Rising Stars halftime show will be led by rapper Taylor Bennett, who happens to be the brother of the headline performer for Sunday’s All-Star Game.
Saturday, the weekend’s busiest day, will see Queen Latifah perform alongside youth from Chicago. For the past five years, Damian Lillard, five-time NBA All-Star, has been regarded in basketball circles and entertainment circles as the best rapper the NBA has ever seen.
While he has the NBA’s respect for his lyrical ability, more importantly, he has slowly but surely gained the respect of rappers. All-Star Saturday was set to display his talent in both arenas on the same night for the first time ever. As he would be in the Three-Point shootout and perform original songs under his artist moniker, Dame D.O.L.L.A. The basketball and entertainment world were looking forward to seeing Damian Lillard and Dame D.O.L.L.A. perform on Saturday. Unfortunately, Lillard suffered a groin strain playing against the Memphis Grizzlies in the game before the All-Star break. We will not see him play any basketball during the weekend but he will still travel to Chicago and be a part of the weekend leaving an unrealistic glimmer of hope for fans that he may still grace the stage.
Sunday, the weekend’s brightest day, is usually filled with a litany of stars ready to watch the world’s greatest pickup game. This year will be no different. Jennifer Hudson will perform a tribute to Kobe Bryant, Gianna Bryant, and the seven others that tragically died in a helicopter crash last month. This is planned to occur prior to each All-Star team being announced. Then, before the game starts, Common will address the audience through the art of storytelling, painting the relationship between Chicago and basketball. Chicago’s own Chaka Khan will perform the national anthem, and Tenille Arts will sing “O Canada.”
Finally, Chicago native Chance the Rapper will headline a star-studded halftime show and will team up with superstar peers like Lil Wayne, DJ Khaled, and Quavo. This year’s NBA All-Star Weekend in Chicago will be littered with talent on and off the court and will be a joy to watch.