Every once in a while, the NBA tries to be something it’s not, which is how you end up with John Legend and/or Carrie Underwood headlining the NBA All-Star Game halftime show. This year, though, the people behind this year’s All-Star festivities in New Orleans seemed to get that there is a significant crossover between people who like rap and those who like basketball. This year’s Slam-Dunk contest was a bit of a mess — a confusing rule change had things starting off as a team competition before the usual solo theatrics. But the night’s one musical performance, usually the sort of thing to be tolerated before the dunking starts, turned out to be a highlight: Kendrick Lamar fuming his way through “m.A.A.d. City” and “Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe.” The next night, Pharrell led a guest lineup of Nelly, Snoop Dogg, Diddy, and Busta Rhymes through a Neptunes greatest-hits revue while introducing the lineup for both All-Star teams. And during the halftime show, Janelle Monáe shared the stage with the eclectic-funkateer crew of Earth, Wind & Fire, Trombone Shorty, Dr. John, and Gary Clark, Jr. Watch all those performances below.
Also of note: Kyrie Irving scored 31 points and led the East to a come-from-behind win, earning himself the All-Star MVP distinction and making some of us wonder what might happen if he wasn’t on a dogshit team.