The 2020 NBA All-Star Game was a celebration of many things. It was, as always, the showcase for the league’s best players, but this year also served as a time to celebrate the life and legacy of Kobe Bryant and pay tribute to him and those who passed away in the tragic helicopter crash last month, with a touching tribute from Magic Johnson and a powerful performance by Jennifer Hudson.
Hudson was one of many Chicago artists who performed at the game, as it was also a showcase for the city of Chicago. Common delivered a spoken-word intro about the city’s connection to basketball, and the halftime performance was headlined by Chance the Rapper, who put on quite the show.
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) February 17, 2020
The announced guests for the halftime show were DJ Khaled, Lil Wayne, and Quavo, with Wayne performing alongside Chance on “No Problem” and Khaled and Quavo coming out for “I’m The One.”
However, this is Chicago and there’s a certain artist that everyone hoped would make a surprise appearance and, in the process, take the roof off of the United Center. Kanye West sat courtside with his wife, Kim Kardashian West, and J Cole, and his mere presence at the game was enough to cause a stir. Taking the rumblings of a performance further was the presence of a microphone designated for Kanye in the back (funny enough, mismarked “Kayne”) that Travonne Edwards, Brian Windhorst, and Rachel Nichols all snapped shots of prior to the performance. Next to it was a mic for another potential special guest, Justin Bieber.
Some of the microphones in the back of the house here… pic.twitter.com/5kAA7VL3qA
— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) February 17, 2020
As the performance went on, there were opportunities for both Kanye and Bieber to appear — Bieber on “I’m The One” and Kanye on “Ultralight Beam” — but neither came out on stage and Chance’s performance went on with the guests as announced. It was a strong performance and had the Chicago crowd excited and engaged, but throughout there was the lingering hope that Kanye might just sneak on stage and make it a legendary performance.
Whether there was a plan in place that got changed — it’s very funny to think Kanye saw the mismarked tape and got so mad he refused to perform — or it was all a ruse to put the mics where media could see them to get people dialed in, Ye’s only presence on Sunday night was as a spectator.