Top 10 NBA All-Star National Anthem Performances
FEB 09, 2014 2:35p ET
With the 2014 NBA All-Star Weekend just around the corner, let's take a look back at some of the more memorable National Anthem performances in years' past. Gary Clark Jr. will have the honor of performing the song prior to tip-off Sunday, Feb. 16th, and boy does he have some competition to live up to.
But in true NBA All-Star fashion, a singing of "O Canada" comes first courtesy of Deborah Cox in 2008:
Now, here are the Top 10 "The Stars-Spangled Banner" performances in NBA All-Star history.
10. Gretchen Wilson, 2010
The 2010 All-Star game was held at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas. So, naturally, it can be intimidating performing the National Anthem in front of 80,000 people. But country singer Gretchen Wilson held her own. Performing the patriotic tune with just an electric guitar, Wilson kept her version simple and well sung.
9. Jessica Simpson, 2001
It may be hard to remember now that she is more known for being a ditzy blonde and paparazzi darling, but Jessica Simpson can actually sing. Simpson showed off her vocal range prior to the start of the 2001 All-Star game. Simpson gets bonus points for holding out "free" for seven seconds at the end and then ends softly with an anticlimactic "brave".
8. The Temptations, 1984
Granted, the 1984 Temptations are not quite on par with The Temptations of the 60s and 70s, but the Motown legends still give an amazing performance. And viewers caught a glimpse of their famous harmonies once the group reached "And the rockets' red glare" section of the song. And an extra shoutout goes to the the guy singing bass during the performance. Very impressive.
7. Destiny's Child, 2006
During the 2006 NBA All-Star Game, Destiny's Child had their first "reunion." The trio had their harmonies right on point (along with their posture — watch the video). Their rendition had a gospel feel to it, which we liked. Though maybe the most entertaining portion of the song comes when the camera cuts to Dallas Mavericks' star Dirk Nowitzki and he's smiling like a kid on a playground (around the 48 seconds mark). Beyonce is standing only a few feet in front of him, so we don't blame him. Oh, yeah, and there's a wind machine involved at the end, too.
6. Jamia Simone Nash, 2003
Not many knew, or even know child actor and singer Jamia Simone Nash, or simply Jamia, but she stole the show during the 2003 All-Star weekend. The then six-year-old diva-in-training blew everyone away when she took the stage. Sure she gets bonus points just for being cute, but the pint-sized singer actually sounds really good, too. The look on Gary Payton and Jason Kidd's face when she finished says it all.
5. Mary J. Blige, 2012
It had been a while since a true vocal diva nailed "The Star-Spangled Banner," but powerhouse Mary J. Blige did just that in 2012. The only negative comment that can be made about her performance was that she lost a little control towards the end. Though, we guess with a voice like hers it is hard not showing off all the vocal runs and notes she can hit.
4. John Legend, 2013
R&B singer John Legend ditched his signature piano to sing the anthem a cappella prior to the start of last year's main event. While his voice is as smooth as it always is, he gets a few points deducted because the songs feels a little stretched out. But warning, Legend's boost of soul when he hits "and the rockets' red glare" can leave chills.
3. Brian McKnight, 1997
R&B singer Brian McKnight and saxophonist David Sanborn teamed up for a jazzy version of the national anthem in 1997. McKnight provides the vocals and keys while Sanborn provides the, well, saxophone. While the overall sound is awesome, the chemistry between the two comes off a little awkward, almost like they were paired together at the last minute. Towards the end, it seemed like they were trying to out do each other.
2. Josh Groban, 2011
When classically-trained singer Josh Groban took the floor to sing the nation anthem in 2011, fans heard how the song was intended to sound. Like many before him, Groban sang the song a cappella. The performance was simple and to the point. It was everything we look for in somebody singing "The Stars-Spangled Banner." Plus, his version is also under two minutes which scores him major points from anxious fans waiting to watch the game.
1. Marvin Gaye, 1983
Was there any doubt that Marvin Gaye's rendition would take the top spot? His 1983 performance ranks among the greatest of all time alongside Whitney Houston's version from the 1991 Super Bowl, James Earl Jones' spoken-word performance at MLB's 1993 All-Star Game and Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock in 1969. Though normally we're not a fan of someone veering to far astray from the original melody, Gaye does it so effortlessly that it actually makes the song cool. Just watch the video to see the players bobbing their heads back-and-forth with smiles on their faces. He has the fans in the arena and the viewers at home eating out of his hands from the moment he begins "Oh, say can you see." In 2004, Gaye's daughter Nona performed a "duet" with her late father, but it didn't have nearly the same impact as Gaye's original performance.