Arcade Fire's Win Butler Named MVP at NBA All-Star Celebrity Game

Win Butler Arcade Fire NBA All-Star weekend
Chris Young/The Canadian Press via AP

Win Butler of Arcade Fire holds the MVP trophy after Canada defeated the United States in the Celebrity Game, part of the NBA All-Star weekend, in Toronto on Friday, Feb. 12, 2016. 

Arcade Fire frontman Win Butler was awarded MVP at Friday night’s (Feb. 12) All-Star Celebrity Game in Toronto, kicking off the official NBA All-Star Weekend.

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“It’s not something that ever occurred to me as a life dream, but it’s pretty cool,” Butler said after the game, still dressed in his light gold uniform with the Canadian flag emblem and clutching the giant gold basketball-shaped trophy.

Butler “does a little music on the side,” the musician joked, asking the roomful of press, “have you guys ever heard of my band before? We’re a pretty good band.”

The Montreal-based singer scored 15 points with 14 rebounds, leading the Drake-coached Team Canada to victory over the Kevin Hart-coached Team USA. Hart is a four-time Celebrity Game MVP Award winner himself, who “retired” last year and returned to coach the first NBA All-Star Celebrity Game outside of America. But in a last ditch effort for a win, Hart came out of retirement and hit the court after halftime.

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Billboard asked Butler how the NBA All-Star Celebrity Game MVP award compares to a Grammy, Juno or MuchMusic Video Award.

“Well,” he said, “looking at the base and pointing to the inscription, “If it didn’t say ‘celebrity’ on there, I think it would be comparable,” he laughs. “But the celebrity part kind of diminishes the meaningfulness of the award a little bit.”

“I am no longer a celebrity so I won’t be eligible for the game next year, but I’m looking forward to being a musician," he continued. "Yeah, I’m hanging it up as a celebrity.”

Butler praised Drake as a coach, particularly for his wardrobe choice -- a navy blazer, crisp white shirt, grey suit pants and tie, and dress shoes. “He’s great. He loves the game. He dresses great. What more do you want in a coach? You just want a coach with a nice suit who loves the game,” Butler said.

Butler himself had to get cleaned up for a DJ gig later that night under his DJ Windows 98 moniker, a warehouse party benefiting his Haiti support charity Kanpe.

One reporter humorously asked him if breaking through the defense just after the second half of the game to score a basket was similar to breaking out of the suburbs in Houston, inspiring him to write the 2010 Arcade Fire album, Suburbs.

“It was actually not similar at all. It was dissimilar,” the artist said, laughing.

Butler said that he moved to Canada 15 years ago from the States and played pickup basketball “all the time” in Montreal.

“Just to see how the game has developed and the level of talent coming out of Toronto and Montreal, I think it’s a beautiful game,” he said, touching on how he originally became interested in the game.

“I fell in love with the game of basketball watching Hakeem Olajuwon when I was a kid; I really do love the game of basketball, so my dream would be for there to be a team in Montreal -- I think it’s great for the city of Toronto.”

Butler was also asked what he thought about Hart “coming out of retirement” to play in the game all of a sudden. “Well it’s typically a popularity contest [the MVP pick] so I was shocked to win the award, because I think Kevin Hart had two points and was on the losing team last year and he won MVP,” he said.

Unlike Hart, who only retired from playing in the game, if Butler is hanging up the celebrity prefix, then that means he can’t even return to coach.


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