The death of rock icon Prince on Thursday has been felt throughout the world, and the sports community has been no exception. The Minnesota native, who often draped himself in purple, was such a sports fan that he wrote a song for the purple-clad Minnesota Vikings in 2010, performed in the pouring rain at the 2007 Super Bowl and showed a great appreciation for basketball.
The Vikings released a statement following news of Prince's death, making sure to reference his tight bond with the Twin Cities.
"As one of the most influential music icons, Prince was an incredible representative of Minnesota who helped put Minneapolis-St. Paul on the map," the statement read. "He was a brilliant performer and a better person. We will forever be proud and grateful that he considered himself a Vikings fan."
The Vikings have failed to achieve Super Bowl success, but Prince made sure to express his support for the club in one of their better seasons. After a 12-4 record in 2009, the Vikings reached the postseason and cruised to a win in January over the Dallas Cowboys, 34-3, with Prince watching from a suite at the Metrodome. The victory apparently left enough of an impact for him to record a fight song "Purple and Gold" to honor the club. Though it lacked the inspired feel of some of Prince's more notable works, the admiration for his hometown football team was evident in his lyrics.
One verse reads: "We come in the name of the purple and gold/All of the odds are in our favor/No prediction too bold. We are the truth if the truth can be told/Long reign the Purple and Gold."
For many who appreciate both football and Prince's live concerts, the Super Bowl XLI halftime show in Miami was a particular treat. With torrential rain hitting South Florida, Prince performed "Purple Rain," as well as other top hits "Let's Go Crazy" and "Baby, I'm a Star," while using four separate electric guitars for epic solos. His set list also included covers of "We Will Rock You" by Queen, along with Creedence Clearwater Revival's hit "Proud Mary," Bob Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower" and the Foo Fighters' "Best of You."
"That Prince set is so wild," said New York Times senior music critic Jon Pareles. "He does other people's songs. He's not promoting himself. He's just making music. It's profound and it's loud and it's funky. And it's just one performer shaking the entire world."
Prince reportedly told halftime organizers, “Can you make it rain harder?”
But basketball was undoubtedly Prince's true sports passion, and as with the Vikings, he showed his support for the local clubs. Born in 1959, Prince would have no doubt endeared himself to the Lakers, who took on the purple and gold colors in 1967, but the club left Minneapolis for Los Angeles in 1959. Instead, he was a fan of the Minnesota Timberwolves, who were founded in 1989. He also performed for players and employees of the WNBA's Minnesota Lynx at his Paisley Park estate after they won the title in October.
“Today we lost a local icon, legend and musical innovator. Prince represented Minnesota with grace, passion and a hunger for helping others," said Glen Taylor, owner of the Timberwolves and Lynx. "Over the years he became a huge Minnesota Timberwolves and Minnesota Lynx fan, attending numerous games and even treating our Lynx players and staff with a private concert at Paisley Park after winning the WNBA Championship this past fall. Our thoughts are with everyone affected by this tragedy, especially the Prince family."
Prince was not only a basketball fan but also a competitive player. He overachieved in the sport despite his short frame, according to Al Nuness, Prince's coach at Minneapolis Central High School.
"He was very small," Nuness told the Associated Press. "But he was quick. He could handle the ball and he could penetrate and he could dish."
Charlie Murphy, brother of comedic actor Eddie Murphy, famously recounted in a "Chappelle's Show" sketch how Prince, who was reportedly 5'2", challenged Charlie Murphy to a game of hoops in the 1980s. According to Charlie Murphy, Prince and his team outplayed Murphy's team.
Prince later confirmed that the game took place, and that he "definitely" had "game."
"To be honest, it ain't that I'm that great. [Charlie Murphy's] just so bad," Prince said in a radio interview in 2004.