As we all know our hometown boy, Prince Rogers Nelson, suddenly passed away on the 21st of April. Most people in my friend group, and I'm assuming all over Minnesota and the world, are still reeling from suddenly living on a planet where Prince no long resides. I know, I know, it is very weird indeed. And not that good weird, how Prince was; that weird feeling where you think you're missing something, maybe forgot to turn off the dryer before you left for work, left the dog outside,etc. but you can't put your finger on it. That sinking, odd feeling where you are missing something. People grieve in their own way, and for me, usually watching sports, listening to music, or writing brings me back down to earth, consoling my soul.
So here we are, what to write...what to write. I can talk about how the MN Wild got into the playoffs but in a classic MN Wild move, got kicked out in the first round. Maybe I can write a thinkpiece on Joe Mauer's super human stats, comparing his talent to the rest of the anemic line up. Or I can use this time to grieve, and come back down to earth.
Prince was a damn good basketball player. It all started when in 2004, when Chappelle's Show featured a skit by Charlie Murphy -Eddie Murphy's brother- in which he recounted a story of being challenged to a late-night game of basketball by Prince. Prince and his "crew" (wearing the now legendary "Game Blouses") easily beat Murphy and his friends, and later served them pancakes. (Chappelle played Prince in the skit) Since then everyone wondered, was that story just a skit? Prince was often seen courtside at the Timberwolves games, threw a 3-hour dance party at Paisley Park when the Minnesota Lynx won the championship, and even wrote a fight song of sorts for the Minnesota Vikings. So you can easily say he's a fan of sports, but can he play them?
In 2013, writer and journalist Touré had a first person encounter with Prince on this whole basketball thing, challenging him to a one on one pick up game, in his book I Would Die 4 U: Why Prince Became an Icon he states, "He moved like a player and played like one of those darting little guys you have to keep your eye on every second. Blink and he’s somewhere you wouldn’t expect. Lose control of your dribble for a heartbeat and he’s relieved you of the ball. He jitterbugged around the court like a sleek little lightning bug, so fast he’d leave a defender stranded and looking stupid if he weren’t careful. With his energy and discipline it was a rapid game, but never manic, or out of control. "
Fast forward to 2015 where the Star Tribune found a photo of Prince as a teenager, still looking fierce as ever, donning his Bryant Junior High basketball uniform. We found out he usually hung out with the jocks in school, playing basketball, baseball, football, and in 9th grade coached a grade school basketball team at church. Ball was life, for Prince. His old coach Richard Robinson said his ball handling was excellent, and an amazing shooter even at a mere 5 foot 2 inches.
The evidence is stacking up pretty well, don't you think? Finally we got the answer from the man himself, stating in a radio interview that the skit on Chapelle's Show actually did happen in real life, even the pancake part. But NO, he didn't make them himself. Come on guys, he's Prince, he has people for that kind of stuff.
Prince was as Minnesotan as any of us, his passion flowed through everything he did, even late night basketball games. We should all live with such ferocity as he did, because who knows when it'll end. You aren't too big for yoga, too short for basketball, or too skinny to play football. Prince showed us that if you want to do something you love, do it, and do it for as long as you want. Whether its playing a sport that isn't 'fit' for you, music that's so different and weird it might turn some people off, or write things that some people might not relate to. Be that different person, it's what makes you, well, you.