When Music & Sports Collide: Pop Culture’s Best Mashups
Sports have always been a great equalizer. People from all different walks of life from around the globe share an undying bond surrounding their favorite athletes and teams. Among some of the most ardent fans are celebrities that we frequently see sitting courtside or up in the luxury boxes, hobnobbing with players and ownership alike.
Rapper Lil’ Wayne once said that “athletes want to be rappers, and rappers want to be athletes.” This cross-section of sports fandom and music is always particularly interesting for fans. We’ve gone through and found five especially interesting examples of famous musicians and their bonds with coaches and teams.
Drake – Toronto Raptors
The Six’s native son, rapper and former actor Drake, was named a “global ambassador” for his favorite basketball team–the Toronto Raptors–back in 2013. A long-time fan of the team, his ambassador position allowed him to join the team’s executive committee and plan themed “Drake Nights” each season. In the past few years alone, Drake has been seen trash-talking opponents multiple times and even assisted former Raptors forward Terrence Ross during the 2014 Slam Dunk competition.
Justin Timberlake – Memphis Grizzlies
Music megastar Justin Timberlake has been a pop culture icon since his days with boy band, NSYNC. The Memphis native and basketball fan bought a minority stake in the Memphis Grizzlies alongside his wife, Jessica Biel, back in 2012. Since joining the team’s ownership, Timberlake has been spotted courtside numerous times and even campaigned to help the team re-sign their star point guard, Mike Conley, back in 2016.
Vince Staples – Los Angeles Clippers
Twenty-four-year-old rapper Vince Staples is a Long Beach, CA, native and one of the most vocal Clippers fans around. According to an interview he gave, Staples started supporting the Clippers as a kid after he attended a Kobe Bryant basketball camp in which the NBA superstar made just one brief appearance and later skipped out on. The California rapper has been hypercritical but hilarious in his musings on the team over the past handful of years.
One of his favorite targets to criticize is former Clips guard Chris Paul. In a since deleted tweet from July of 2015, Vince said, “I’m tired of Chris Paul being on this pedestal like he’s ever won anything. Somebody show me a high school title, a spelling bee, something!” Staples also was less than happy about the Clippers new mascot, Chuck the Condor, remarking sarcastically that “Elton Brand didn’t die for this.”
Jon Bon Jovi – New England Patriots
Despite being a lifelong New York Giants fan, famous singer Jon Bon Jovi’s personal friendship with Bill Belichick and Patriots owner Robert Kraft has led to him being seen in Gillette Stadium’s luxury boxes countless times. Bon Jovi struck up a friendship with Bill Belichick when the Patriots coach was the defensive coordinator for the Giants in the late 1980s. One particularly memorable moment from last season’s playoff run involved the singer, who led the Patriots fans in an impromptu sing-along of his band’s hit 1983 song, Livin’ on a Prayer. The Patriots went on to win that game against the Steelers, en route to their Super Bowl comeback against the Falcons this past February.
Elton John – Watford FC
Our last entry on this list is perhaps the most interesting musician/sports cross-over. Sir Elton John, who is widely celebrated as one of the best musicians of all-time, was intricately involved in the dealings of English soccer club Watford FC from 1976-2008.
Elton John became club chairman of Watford back in 1976 after purchasing the club he had been following for his whole life. Under John’s ownership, Watford rose from the Fourth Division to the top tier of English soccer and ended up finishing second in England’s top league in 1982. The English singer also was a part owner of the Los Angeles Aztecs, an NASL soccer team in the United States during the 1970s and early 80s. Citing issues with owning/running the club while living in the United States, Elton John sold his ownership stake in the club in the 1990s but returned as the team’s chairman in 1997 before resigning that post in 2008. Due to his work and dedication to the club, Watford named a stand at their stadium in his honor in 2014.
(Image courtesy Gage Skidmore via Flickr.)