The National Basketball Association continues to blaze genius marketing trails when it comes to interactive methods to engage fandom. It could be argued that for an overall entertainment value, the NBA All Star Weekend may have been a little better than what the NFL displayed for their annual tour de force level of events surrounding the Superbowl the week prior.
The one hiccup that needs to be addressed in the eyes of the public is a renovation of the once vaunted Slam Dunk Contest, which at one point was THE must watch event of the showcase. In a symbolic occurrence Obi Toppin victoriously repped the hometown New York Knicks in what was deemed as possibly the worst outing in the history of the event. Having such an integral piece of the puzzle come under such negative scrutiny had little to no effect, however, as another event was introduced that had social media ablaze with excitement and praise. That came in the form of the Bleacher Report/Verzuz collaborative presentation of a highlight showdown of two of the 75 Greatest Players to don a basketball uniform in Tracy McGrady vs. Allen Iverson.
Despite the level of positivity generated by this new Verzuz entity, this was the second-best competitive performance of the series in a week. Crazy as it sounds the parity was usurped a few days prior as the original rendition of the franchise presented one of the best clashes in their brief history dubbed Anthony Hamilton vs. Musiq Soulchild Valentine’s Day Special: a showdown on the designated day of lovers. Going in, the consensus of those of us in attendance at the Avalon Theatre in Hollywood, was that while their stellar catalogs were comparable, one of the two may have fared marginally better on the charts and possible individual sales (Musiq), while the other had a wider, more vast collaborative history (Hamilton), allowing for an element of surprise that can be used to sway the audiences favor. In support of the latter point, Hamilton offered, “Musiq got hits. You can’t play with him.
I had to come with it.” As it played out, Hamilton went into his bag and came out with his DJ Jermaine Dupri, The Hamiltones, Big V of the Nappy Roots, Leela James, Donnell Jones and his partners on a remix of the single “Lessons” Eric Roberson, Kevin Ross, and Raheem Devaughn. Expressed Roberson, “What a night! What an honor. If you tuned it, my brother for life @anthonyhamiltonofficial invited us to sing ‘Lessons (Remix)’ for the world to see. Thank you for allowing me this special opportunity to showcase this amazing song for the world to see. I’m forever grateful. And special thanks to my brothers.” The casket would have probably closed on Musiq, had the King of Verzuz Jadakiss appeared for their pairing of “Why.” Or perhaps not. Soulchild had in his chamber hits with Mary J. Blige and Jill Scott who both had Los Angeles ties who could have touched down. While those did not happen, we were blessed with Robert Glasper “Ah Yeah” and Lucky Daye who provided his ode to “Half Crazy” with his single “Over.”
Neither of those things mattered as much as the precedent that was set. On a platform that has developed such a niche audience, the two combatants seized the opportunity to show how dynamic real soul/R&B could be. For the artists themselves, another layer was revealed: confirmation! The ebbs and flows of the industry can weigh heavily on the relevance of an artist in not just the present landscape but perhaps past laurels. In an episode of “The Fat Joe Show,” Musiq revealed, “I needed this. I needed this for my own piece of mind because I was two seconds away from saying F this, I don’t want to do this no more. This is dumb.” He continued with gratitude, “But when I did it, I saw you got all these people that rock with you!”
Fo Sho. Over and out. Holla next week. Until then, enjoy the nightlife.