Prince, who died Thursday at the age of 57, honored the sports world with his presence a number of times over the years, usually letting his music do the speaking for him. Most memorably, he delivered the best halftime performance in Super Bowl history in 2007, when he rocked Miami’s Dolphin Stadium in a pouring rain.
“Can you make it rain harder?” he asked, when told that it would be raining during the show.
“He’s just one performer shaking the entire world,” Jon Pareles of the New York Times wrote, and that actually felt like an understatement as he performed “Let’s Go Crazy,” “Purple Rain” and other songs in the 12-minute show.
He may have topped it a couple of days before, though, when he turned the press conference the halftime performer does each year into a quick show. “At the first shout of a question, Prince turned his back to the audience of a few hundred reporters and burst into a hard-driving guitar riff that resonated like the first rumblings of thunder in an electrical storm,” Karen Crouse of the New York Times wrote.
The lucky reporters heard him sing “Johnny B. Goode,” “Anotherloverholenyohead” and “Get on the Boat.”
The Chicago Bears went on to lose that game to the Indianapolis Colts and, worse, they didn’t get to see Prince.
“We’re not here to see the halftime show, and I understand and I know why,” Charles Tillman said. “But, you know, who wouldn’t like to see Prince?”
He rocked sports and Twitter almost two years ago when he hit the French Open while he was on a concert tour and — scepter and all — watched his pal, Rafael Nadal, play a little tennis.
While we’re going to treasure that Super Bowl halftime show in our memory banks, let’s also pause to remember that Prince was also a pretty fair high school basketball player.
When the Minnesota Lynx won the NBA championship last fall, no one was happier to throw a big party for them than Prince. He played for more than three hours at Paisley Park. “I didn’t expect this party,” Maya Moore said (via the Star-Tribune’s Jon Bream). “Unbelievable.”
And he jammed for 2 1/2 hours in New York during the NBA’s All-Star weekend in February. “On behalf of the NBA family,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver told reporters at the annual meeting of Associated Press sports editors in New York, “I want to let you know how sorry we are for him, his family and his millions of fans around the world.”
In early March, Prince sat courtside to watch the NBA’s reigning monarch, Stephen Curry, and the Golden State Warriors play in Oakland. At a recent concert at Oakland’s Paramount Theatre, he said, “What can you truly count on besides Steph Curry? And you can count on Steph Curry.”
Well, we always counted on Prince, too.
We’ll leave you with this story from ESPN’s Nick Friedell about the time Prince rented a house in Beverly Hills from former NBA player Carlos Boozer:
“Supposedly, Prince changed the front gate to the Prince sign, he changed the master bedroom to a hair salon, he changed the streaming blue waters that led to the front door to purple water, he knocked out walls, he changed the molding on top of the ceiling. Booz was livid. So pissed off, so angry … He put his Purple Rain stamp on it … Booz was like, ‘I was getting ready to go over there and beat this little man down.’ And dude was just like ‘Here, Boozer, here is a little check for about a million, it’ll take care of everything, get it back the way you want it.’ And Booz was like , ‘This little man is cool as hell.'”
Sports editor Matt Vita contribute to this report from New York.