Prince had influence on world of sports, too

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Friday, April 22, 2016

Prince's death was felt across the globe Thursday, including in the realm of sports.

The pop superstar was found dead at his home in suburban Minneapolis, according to his publicist. He was 57.

Shortly after the news came out, the Golden State Warriors played Prince classics at shootaround in preparation for Thursday night's playoff game against the Houston Rockets. Prince had appeared at a Warriors game on March 3.

Warriors guard Stephen Curry initiated the playing of Prince on the stadium speakers. Klay Thompson and Andre Iguodala also contributed to choosing the songs "Purple Rain," "When Doves Cry" and "Raspberry Beret."

The Los Angeles Clippers also played Prince's music during their off-day practice on Thursday.

But it was Prince's ties to football that really resonate. In 2015, Billboard magazine proclaimed Prince's 2007 Super Bowl halftime showat Dolphins Stadium the greatest performance in the history of the event. Undeterred by a driving rain, Prince played the Creedence Clearwater Revival classic "Proud Mary," Jimi Hendrix's iconic version of Bob Dylan's "All Along The Watchtower" and his own hits, "Let's Go Crazy" and "1999." The climax was his performance of "Purple Rain" as showers created the perfect stage for his unique flair for the dramatic.

Prince was also a hugeMinnesota Vikingsfan.

When his hometown Vikings were in the NFL playoffs after the 2009 season, Prince attended the victory over Dallas at the Metrodome that sent them to the NFC Championship Game. He even wrote them a song titled "Purple and Gold''; the widely panned tune was a mix of college fight song, the Beatles and '80s synthesizer pop.

"Praise every voice and let it be known, in the name of the purple and gold," the song begins. "We come in the name of the purple and gold, all of the odds are in our favor ... long live the purple and gold!"

The Vikings issued a statement on Thursday.

"Like the rest of the world, we are shocked and saddened today by Prince's death," it reads. "As one of the most influential music icons, Prince was an incredible representative of Minnesota who helped put Minneapolis-St. Paul on the map. He was a brilliant performer and a better person. We will forever be proud and grateful that he considered himself a Vikings fan. Our thoughts and prayers are with Prince's family at this time."

Texas Rangers slugger Prince Fielder said Thursday that he was named after the music star.

"My parents liked him, so I kind of liked him," Fielder said, according to The Dallas Morning News. "It's kind of weird when an icon dies, but I never really felt more of a connection to him."

Reaction to Prince's death came from many sports. NBA commissioner Adam Silver weighed in.

"I want to note Prince's passing," he said in a statement. "I crossed paths with him many times during my NBA tenure. ... After the All-Star game in Minneapolis, he hosted a legendary late-night party that people still talk about. ... On behalf of the NBA family, I want to say how sorry we are for his family and his millions of fans."

Whenever theMinnesota Twinshit a home run, the ballpark sound system begins blaring Prince's hit, "Let's Go Crazy.'' The players even adopted "Little Red Corvette'' as a theme song of sorts last season, with the veterans old enough to have remembered Prince's earlier music and made sure the youngsters learned the words.

The team tweeted Thursday:

Prince was long a supporter of the WNBA's Minnesota Lynx, too, and he attended their championship-clinching victory over Indiana last October.

Timberwolves and Lynx owner Glen Taylor said: "Prince represented Minnesota with grace, passion and a hunger for helping others. 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."

Baseball Hall of Famer Dave Winfield, who grew up in St. Paul, Minnesota, tweeted:

Prince himself was an athlete, playing basketball atMinneapolis Central High School through his sophomore year.

CoachAl Nuness recalled Prince the player.

"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.''

Prince stayed in contact from time to time with Nuness as he rose to fame and became a reclusive celebrity. Prince supported some of the city's AAU teams, Nuness said, after he reached stardom.

The man born Prince Rogers Nelson stood just 5-foot-2 and seemed to summon the most original and compelling sounds at will, whether playing guitar in a flamboyant style that openly drew upon Hendrix, switching his vocals from a nasally scream to an erotic falsetto or turning out album after album of stunningly original material. Among his other notable releases: "Sign O' the Times,'' "Graffiti Bridge'' and "The Black Album.'' He was also fiercely protective of his independence, battling his record company over control of his material and even his name. Prince once wrote "slave'' on his face in protest of not owning his work and famously battled and then departed his label, Warner Bros., before returning a few years ago.

"What's happening now is the position that I've always wanted to be in,'' Prince told The Associated Press in 2014. "I was just trying to get here.''

In 2004, Prince was inducted into the Rock and Roll of Fame, which hailed him as a musical and social trailblazer.

"He rewrote the rulebook, forging a synthesis of black funk and white rock that served as a blueprint for cutting-edge music in the Eighties,'' reads the Hall's dedication. "Prince made dance music that rocked and rock music that had a bristling, funky backbone. From the beginning, Prince and his music were androgynous, sly, sexy and provocative.''

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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