anthony hamilton national anthem meme


Anthony Hamilton’s national anthem at All-Star game sparks MVP meme

Twitter loved the music in Charlotte.


Trixie Reyna

Internet Culture

Posted on Feb 18, 2019   Updated on May 20, 2021, 6:54 pm CDT

The 2019 NBA All-Star Game concluded Sunday night in Charlotte, North Carolina’s Spectrum Center, with LeBron James’ team beating Giannis Antetokounmpo’s squad. However, it seems basketball is beside the point: All Twitter could talk about were the performers, specifically Meek Mill, J. Cole, and Anthony Hamilton. Yes, there was a meme.

The first performance that went viral was Charlotte hometown hero Hamilton’s soulful rendition of the national anthem.

It drew comparisons to Marvin Gaye’s rendition during the 1983 NBA All-Star game, “what many—until now–regarded as the greatest rendition of the National Anthem,” Fox News notes.

Some Twitter users, like @neutraljing, think it “saved Black History Month.”

Yet what truly stole the show for eagle-eyed Twitter users during Hamilton’s performance was his background guitar player’s infamous side-eye toward the end of the song, where the singer may have done a little “improv.” It has since become a meme:

He has unofficially been dubbed the NBA All-Star MVP by some users:

Elsewhere, rapper Mill’s fiery opening performance featured a medley of his hits like the Phil Collins-sampled “Intro” from his Championships album, the Drake collab “Going Bad,” “Uptown Vibes” to introduce Team Giannis, and “Dreams and Nightmares (Intro)” to herald Team LeBron.

Meanwhile, North Carolina native Cole, clad in a ’90s throwback Charlotte Hornets jacket, performed “ATM” from his KOD album and more recent single “Middle Child” during half-time.

The rapper even threw in a shoutout to recently released 21 Savage, which was not lost on Twitter. “J. Cole just did what his peers refused to do last week at the Grammysacknowledge and show love and support for 21 Savage,” tweets @DJBooth.

The other thing that was not lost on Twitter was how the Super Bowl halftime performances paled in comparison to that of the NBA All-Star’s, with some even going so far as to say this makes NBA the better league. “The NFL hires a shirtless Maroon 5, and the NBA hires Meek and J. Cole… and people wonder [why] the NBA is the most popular and relevant league in the country in the modern era. A great league is a woke league,” tweets @briancordova.

(The NFL is considerably more popular when it comes to TV ratings in the U.S., but the NBA does seem to routinely match the NFL when it comes to real-time tweets.)

User @Mojo99_ thinks the NFL should “take notes.”

In case you were wondering, Kevin Durant is the All-Star game’s official MVP for the second time in his NBA career.

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*First Published: Feb 18, 2019, 7:02 am CST