Prince, a musical genius? No one’s going to argue with that. But like a lot of geniuses, his otherworldly abilities spanned multiple superpowers. This brings us to Prince’s well-documented love of sports, especially basketball.
Okay, so Prince was never about to turn pro. Peaking at 5’2” will have some say in that, and besides, he was rather turnover-prone in his playing days. But the creative juice that flowed while Prince’s fingers danced around the fretboard also made him a deftly skilled ball handler and an awfully creative passer. From playing ball in school to supporting Minnesota sports during his stardom, sports often came off the sidelines and played into his fascinating life. Here are some of those moments.
Prince Plays the 2007 Super Bowl
Prince playing the world’s most-viewed televised concert is a good place to start. In the years following 2004’s “Nipplegate” incident, the NFL opted to go the family-friendly rock star route, so Prince’s inclusion just three years later was a sexy change of pace. He played a killer set on a rainy Miami night, so you know what song he closed with:
Prince’s Vikings Anthem
During the 1980s, there was only one NFL team that wore purple and it happened to play in Minneapolis. It was pure destiny for Prince to support the Minnesota Vikings, and support them he did. He was so pumped after their Brett Favre-led squad beat the Cowboys during the 2010 playoffs that he made them a fight song called “Purple and Gold.”
It wasn’t all that good (if you must, you can listen over here) but it’s not like you can blame Prince for the Vikings eventually losing in the playoffs that year. The New Orleans Saints prevented them from reaching the Super Bowl during the infamous “Bountygate” game, in which Saints coaches were exposed for bribing players with bonuses to try to injure Viking players. Not cool! Prince’s lyrics were more concerned with a good, clean victory: “The eyes ready for battle / No need for sword in hand.”
The Chappelle’s Show Sketch
Of course you know about the time Prince and the Revolution schooled the Murphy brothers in a game of basketball, thanks to this 2004 Chappelle’s Show sketch. The whole thing was based off actual events, which us brings us to the fact that…
Prince Was An Accomplished High School Basketball Player
After the Chappelle’s Show sketch, people began digging more into Prince’s actual basketball-playing past.
Another Prince-related clip from the Strib archives, looking back at his hooping days at Bryant Junior High. pic.twitter.com/LrIQZ3LhSg
— Libor Jany (@StribJany) March 3, 2015
Prince played ball at Minneapolis’ Bryant Junior High and Central High. Though he stood just 5’2”, he was such a great ball handler that he was actually a valuable off-the-bench player, albeit a little turnover-prone.
From the Strib archives: Chappelle was right. pic.twitter.com/icXBFGWkij
— Libor Jany (@StribJany) March 3, 2015
Prince Serenades the WNBA Champions
When the Minnesota Lynx won the 2015 WNBA championship, Prince honored the team like the basketball-loving rock star he was. After their victory, he invited the winning ladies and team personnel to Paisley Park for a private concert. The Minneapolis Star Tribune recounted:
Prince started the party with “Purple Rain” shortly after 12:30 a.m. even though the champs hadn’t arrived yet. Within a few hits including “Let’s Go Crazy,” he was showing his respect, congratulating the Lynx “on a job well done.” On the two video screens in the NPG Music Club, a newly made slide featured the Lynx logo and the words “2015 WNBA Champions.”
When all was said and done, the show lasted three hours (with a pump-fake ending that turned out to be an intermission) and finally ended just before 4 a.m. Prince played the hits, led freaky extended jam sessions, and covered Michael Jackson. The crowd had, at most, 150 people, but that didn’t matter to Prince.
It was three minutes before 4 a.m. Prince, the party man in black with a black stocking cap, bowed, walked off the stage and headed into the crowd. When he got into the middle of the dancefloor, he feigned like he was going to fall over from exhaustion. He steadied himself and marched off like a champion.
We wish we had footage of this one.