Purple will never have the same meaning. The world lost a music and cultural legend on April 21, 2016 when Prince Rogers Nelson passed away at the age of 57. He was far too young but sometimes the stars that shine the brightest burn out before their time. The Artist’s contributions to the world of music and style, as well as his assault on traditional gender norms, will keep him relevant far beyond his time in this dimension, but what about some of Prince’s other passions?
We all remember the Chappelle’s Show skit, right? Charlie Murphy describes a game of pick up basketball that he played with Prince in 1985. If you haven’t seen it then you should watch it below. Immediately! I’ll wait:
So if we are to believe Charlie Murphy then Prince could straight up ball. He had handles, he could shoot, and he knew how to run the floor, fruity picks and all. But how much of this is really true. Let’s see if we can’t find a little more evidence of Prince’s skills on the court.
It turns out that Prince did play both middle school and high school basketball and was quite talented. But at 5’2″ he was never big enough to crack the starting lineup, which pissed him off royally. Word is that he would constantly harp on his coach about not being a starter despite the considerable skill with the ball and determination that he possessed. His old coach also stated that he was a bit turnover prone which led to increased time on the bench whenever he got too sloppy with the rock.
So he played as a kid, but what about as an adult? Did he keep his game strong even after he became a music icon, as Charlie Murphy had said? All indications point to yes.
Former bandmate, Wendy Melvoin, said that it was not uncommon for Prince to have a makeshift hoop and backboard mounted near his rehearsal spaces or studios, and he would frequently take breaks to work on his game while on tour. She is also the one who started the rumor that he would frequently play in heels. Prince apparently scoffed at the idea when asked, but either way, he was ballin’ whenever he had the chance.
According to Touré, the writer of the Prince biography I Would Die 4 U, he was quite confident in his hoops skills. To the point of showing off in front of anyone unfortunate enough to oppose him on the court. In an attempt to access the more human side of the notoriously eccentric and secluded star while writing the biography, Touré had a chance to play a couple of pick up games against the Purple One and see a different side of the man who liked to control the way the world saw him. For the record, he said that Prince played in Nike Air Force Ones, and was as skilled as rumors would have you believe. Prince won and just like that, the moment was over. I’m just sad that there isn’t any photo or video evidence.
After music, it looks as though basketball was the next greatest passion for the man who touched so many of our lives with the music he made. When he wasn’t playing, he was usually watching and it’s been said that he once had televisions set up on the side of the stage for a performance so he could watch a Chicago Bulls playoff game. That’s the kind of dedication to a sport that I can get behind. He even made an attempt to buy the Minnesota Timberwolves. Tell me that wouldn’t have been the best thing to ever happen to that franchise and I’ll call you a liar.
So here’s to Prince, musical genius and basketball fiend. May he rest in peace, and I hope wherever he is, there’s a basketball court.