Sunday’s NBA All-Star Game will go down as one of the most competitive and enjoyable in recent memory, but it also was the setting for some extremely online drama playing out in the real world. Lost in the controversial dunk contest result on Saturday and an All-Star Game on Sunday in which players actually tried was a controversy surrounding TikTok and a viral dance that’s taken over the spiritual successor to Vine.
If you’ve spent any time on TikTok or seen a video posted on another social media site from TikTok you’ve likely seen the Renegade dance, which is a fairly complex series of moves set to K Camp’s “Lottery.” The dance itself went viral, with thousands of versions of it flooding social media and taking over high schools and the virtual places high schoolers occupy.
Renegade even made an appearance in Saturday night’s Slam Dunk Contest when Aaron Gordon brought out some TikTok stars — Addison Easterling, Dixie D’Amelio, and Charli D’Amelio — to do the Renegade while he dunked over Chance The Rapper.
— You want GIFs? I gottem all. (@IHaveFourBalls) February 16, 2020
But as many people pointed out in the aftermath of Gordon’s dunk — which wasn’t enough to get him a win in the contest — none of those people actually invented the dance. It’s not really Gordon’s fault, as it’s another example of the complex way viral dances spread and often ignore the less-notable people who create them.
Rebecca Jennings wrote about the complicated nature of dance invention in a viral age for Vox earlier this month, and Taylor Lorenz later wrote more in the New York Times about Jalaiah Harmon, the 14-year-old from Atlanta who came up with the dance that went mega-viral on the social media platform. Both of those stories brought attention to Harmon, who hasn’t really benefited from the wild spread of the dance like others have. All-Star Weekend in Chicago, for example, saw Easterling (17 million Tik Tok followers) and the D’Amelio sisters making TikToks with Jayson Tatum and taking in all that the weekend had to offer while Harmon saw no benefit.
But those two stories have helped spread word that Harmon actually invented the dance, and on Sunday the Internet lit up when a video was posted of Harmon dancing with two of the TikTok stars that were featured on All-Star Saturday. Importantly, they made sure to credit Harmon with being the “OG Renegade.”
we learned the OG renegade from Jalaiah and had so much fun! ❤️ Show her love! pic.twitter.com/EWjlPMJ0bD
— addison rae (@whoisaddison) February 16, 2020
That meant that Harmon was in Chicago, and word soon spread that she would be performing at Sunday’s All-Star Game as well.
Update: The @NBA will have Jalaiah, the originator of the “renegade dance” perform the dance she created at NBA All Star Sunday night, league sources have confirmed. And will have a chance to meet the other Tik Tok girls who performed Saturday night and connect.
Cc: @kcamp https://t.co/qCgqBui5gB
— Rosalyn Gold-Onwude (@ROSGO21) February 16, 2020
The performance did, indeed, happen. And it went viral in its own right.
Jalaiah, creator of Renegade, performs at the NBA All-Star Game! pic.twitter.com/w5qtYTrjeh
— NBA (@NBA) February 17, 2020
For some in the crowd the significance of the performance may have been lost, but it certainly was a big deal for those that knew what was going on.
— Watch Vh1's #BlackGirlBeauty (@GiaPeppers) February 17, 2020
The best part may be Giannis Antentokounmpo doing the dance in the background while Harmon performed.
Giannis was enjoying the original renegade 😂 pic.twitter.com/RtHnzprOcx
— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) February 17, 2020
Ownership of anything viral is a tricky situation, especially when it comes to dance. But it’s good the NBA made sure to show some appreciation for Harmon, who created something that’s seen some serious staying power in a very fast-paced digital environment.