The 10 Greatest Music Moments at the NBA All-Star Game

Plenty of great moments from basketball mid-season classic

By Al Shipley
February 14, 2020

There’s probably no intersection between American sports and music that’s as strong and as symbiotic as the relationship between NBA and hip-hop. Countless pro ballers are friends with rap stars, and occasionally, they envy each other’s dream jobs enough to try them out themselves. The Super Bowl halftime show may be the biggest gig a musician can get at a sporting event, but only a handful of rappers have ever been big enough to be invited to perform. Similar to the Super Bowl, the NBA All-Star Game evolved into a showcase for major pop acts in the ‘90s following decades of staid entertainment ranging from marching bands to the casts of Broadway musicals.

The NBA All-Star Game, often held a couple of weeks after the Super Bowl, frequently features hip-hop and more contemporary styles of music in the halftime show. It has had a more historically interesting mix of national anthem singers (including the performance of both America’s and Canada’s anthems). All-Star Weekend, which has taken place every year since 1951 (the lone exception being during the 1999 lockout), has gradually become a magnet for additional concerts and music industry schmoozing. The entertainment isn’t always exciting – John Legend has appeared no less than 4 times – but it’s occasionally great. Ahead of Chance The Rapper performing at this Sunday’s game in his hometown of Chicago, here’s a look at 10 of the most memorable musical moments at the game.

5. Shania Twain (1996)

In the 1995-96 season, the NBA expanded into Canada for the first time, adding the Toronto Raptors and the Vancouver Grizzlies to the league. That season’s All-Star Game at the Alamodome in San Antonio was the first time that the Canadian national anthem was performed alongside “The Star-Spangled Banner” ahead of the game. Who better to perform “O Canada” at the All-Star Game than Shania Twain, the pride of Timmins, Ontario, as she was ascending to superstardom. Twain’s breakthrough album, 1995’s The Woman In Me, was already halfway to Diamond-certified sales, and she’d win her first Grammy later that month. But Twain, who didn’t tour until 1998, was dogged by music industry whispers that she was a studio creation who couldn’t sing live. Yet her regal, confident “O Canada” was one of the first times where she offered an emphatic counterpoint to those accusations.