Nigerian superstars Tems, Burna Boy and Rema delivered a first-of-its-kind Afrobeats-themed performance at the National Basketball Association (NBA) Halftime show held at Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah, on Sunday.
Halftime in basketball is between the NBA’s second and third quarters. It is a 15-minute break for teams and players to return to the locker room to rest and strategise while celebrity artistes perform during the NBA All-Star Weekend.
Performances during the Halftime show over the past 71 years have consisted of the best musical superstars or creative troupes on the world stage, making it one of the biggest musical shows during a sports game after the Superbowl halftime show.
The NBA All-stars Halftime show happens during the all-stars game every February.
The superstars were introduced by Cameroonian-born NBA player Pascal Siakam, who plays for the Toronto Raptors.
The incredible lineup of Tems, Burna Boy and Rema was a pointer to the fact that they were not internationally acclaimed stars but ones with loyal fanbases in the United States and worldwide.
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It marked the first time any Nigerian artiste would perform at the NBA halftime Show.
The show was a lengthy celebration of Afrobeats, which is fast becoming Nigeria’s biggest export. The catchy tunes of three of Nigeria’s A-listers had most of the NBA All-Stars avoid the locker room time at halftime and stay courtside to watch and record the artistes’ live performance.
Grammy award-winning artiste and acclaimed African Giant Burna Boy started the show with his all-time hit “Anybody” from his African Giant album and “It’s Plenty” from his recent Love, Damini Album.
Burna, now a three-time Grammy nominee, won the Best Global Music Album award for his 2020 album Twice as Tall at the 63rd Grammy.
His Juju mixed with Jazz live performance clouded the air at the arena as he accompanied it with stellar dance steps.
Burna’s electrifying performance was followed closely by a spirited performance from Mavins superstar Rema, who excited the crowd with energetic renditions of “Calm Down” and his latest single “Holiday.” performing his unique style of the legwork dance.
Although Rema has not won a Grammy or been nominated for one, his remix of ‘Calm Down’ with songbird Selena Gomez has boosted his reputation in the U.S.
An international sensation and latest Grammy winner, Tems performed last and started her performance, singing her two hits “Crazy Things and “Free Mind.”
She also performed her verse from Wizkid’s “Essence” and Future’s “Wait For U.” Both got her nominated for the Grammy and won her an award.
Tems Grammy’s Best Melodic Rap Performance win with her Future and Drake collaboration “Wait for U” this year solidified her stand on the international platform.
Dazzling visual effects accompanied the trio, a dance team incorporating traditional and modern African dances, and a band that kept the vibe lively.
Closing the show, Burna Boy returned to the ecstatic crowd with a stellar performance of ‘Ye’ and ‘Last Last’.
Interestingly, these three artistes consecutively made it to former US President Barrack Obama Summer and End-of-year Playlists, further showing their influence on the American music industry.
Tribute to Africa
In its bid to become more globally diversified in the past few years, the NBA has incorporated many international players from different continents worldwide, including Asia, Europe, and especially Africa.
Celebrating African contributions to the league (and the league’s partnership with FIBA in creating the Basketball Africa League in 2019), the NBA also decided to use the 72nd All-Stars game to celebrate African musical strides.
All Stars Game
The all-star game played by Team Lebron vs Team Giannis ended in 175 – 184, with team Giannis winning.
Lebron, the league’s all-time scoring champion, had his first loss as an All-Star Game captain.
Before tonight, Lebron was a perfect 5-0 since the game had changed formats to allow the two leading vote-getters to serve as captains and choose their teams.
Tatum, Donovan Mitchell, Kyrie Irving, Joel Embiid, Luka Doncic, Nikola Jokic, Lauri Markkanen and Ja Morant started alongside LeBron and Giannis.
In the end, Jayson Tatum stole the show as the Celtics star earned MVP honours after breaking Anthony Davis’ All-Star Game scoring record with 55 points in the victory.
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