The Men’s Final Four ends in Minneapolis on Monday night, with Virginia and Texas Tech squaring off in a game that will end with one of those teams winning an NCAA men’s basketball championship for the first time. To celebrate the Final Four in Minnesota, ESPN teamed up with legendary music reporter Chris Connelly to produce a SportsCenter segment about the most famous Minnesota basketball story.
Well, at least it’s the most famous if you watched Chappelle’s Show on Comedy Central during the early aughts. Dave Chappelle’s sketch comedy show has some classic moments, but one that’s endured is the story Charlie Murphy told about playing a pickup basketball game against Prince. If you haven’t seen the segment, it is below.
Prince acknowledged that Murphy wasn’t lying about the encounter, and he and Chappelle bonded over the sketch after it aired. And on Saturday, SportsCenter aired a segment about Prince’s basketball background, interviewing friends, a coach and even some musicians he played with over the years.
“Prince wasn’t a great shooter” said Al Nuness, who coached Prince Rogers Nelson at Central High. “But he was so fast, and so quick with passing.”
Growing up, it was thought that Prince would be part of a legendary group of talent when he made it to high school. But music was his calling — his teammates told a story about him leaving during the middle of a game to catch a bus because of “music commitments.”
“You could see Prince start to wean away from the game,” Nuness said.
But Prince kept playing hoops later in life. Sheila E tells a great story about playing HORSE with Prince and how he refused to do any dancing before shots. And yes, the infamous Chappelle’s Show sketch is mentioned at length.
One new detail came out of that story that didn’t air on Comedy Central: Prince had a bit of extra motivation to play well because Eddie Murphy brought a boom box out to the court and started playing his song, ‘Party All The Time‘ on it.
According to guitarist Micki Free, who was there playing with Prince that night, he said “I don’t have time for that,” shut it off, and then got to delivering an epic beatdown.
“He was like Steph Curry, baby,” Free said. “He goes to the far right corner, fadeaway jump shot. Nothing but net.”
And to be clear Free, who was there the night Prince and his squad took on Murphy’s group, said the skit is perfect.
“It’s right on,” Free said. “I laugh about it even now.”
The documentary had some excellent animations and illustrations to bring the story to life, and seeing Chappelle as a stoic Prince is always amazing. John Buccigross also did a story about Prince on his Sunday night SportsCenter show and shared on Twitter some of the graphics they used in studio.
It’s a loving tribute to a musician gone too soon and another sign that his hoops legacy will only grow in his absence from this world. We’ll always have ‘Purple Rain,’ and now we’ll always have Prince making everyone pancakes after he destroys them on the court.