The best performances of the National Anthem at a Sports Event

1. Marvin Gaye (1983 NBA All-Star Game, Los Angeles)
The greatest moment in NBA All-Star Game history, hands down, nothing else comes close. And that’s saying something. I don’t want to build it up too much, but you have to remember the circumstances: it was the early-’80s; they were in the celebrity capital of the world; Marvin was probably the coolest singer alive at the time; Bird, Isiah, Magic, Kareem, Doctor J, Moses, Jack Sikma and Jack Sikma’s blonde permed afro were looking on; the expectations were pretty high to begin with; and everyone sang the song in the most traditional way possible up until that point. So Marvin saunters out with his oversized sunglasses, gives the song his own little spin and absolutely crushes it … by the tail end of the song, the entire Forum is clapping and swaying like it’s the Apollo Theater. This will never be topped. It’s impossible. Right year, right sport, right city. Even more poignant when you remember that he was killed just 14 months later.

Remaining in reverse order

6. The Grateful Dead (S.F. Giants home game, Opening Day, 1993)
I love this one for a few reasons. First, they somehow made it sound a little Dead-ish with the vocals, even though it’s a respectful version from beginning to end. Second, this was during one of Jerry’s last “he’s clean, he’s sober, he might actually live a few more years!” stages (he died just two years later). Third, you have to appreciate the symmetry of the Dead performing in San Fran (where the crowd goes absolutely bonkers by the end of the song). And fourth, you see potentially-soon-to-be convicted felon Barry Bonds (in his first Giants game, no less) with one of those “I don’t know who the hell those guys were, but that was pretty cool!” looks on his face at the end of the clip.

5. The Girl Who Froze (Blazers home game, 2002)
The one when the terrified teenager panics during the song, followed by Mo Cheeks quickly stepping in to help out, then the crowd joining in and singing the last half of the song with them. One of the all-time great random sports moments, right? I’m convinced Cheeks will have a head coaching job for the rest of his life because of this clip, wins and losses be damned.

4. Carl Lewis (Nets game, 1993)
For years and years, it’s been like the Babe Ruth of the Unintentional Comedy Hall of Fame (one of the centerpieces of the original class of inductees) … and now it’s finally on YouTube! And the rockets … RED GLARE! If you click on that link, that’s actually the “Best SportsCenter bloopers of the past 20 years” segment (four rock-solid minutes of comedy) with the Lewis song running right in the middle. You will not be disappointed. And I will defend Charley Steiner for life after that brilliant “Francis Scott Off-Key” ad-lib.

3. Whitney Houston (Super Bowl XXV, 1991)
Widely considered the best “Star Spangled Banner” performance because of the singer (Whitney at her talented/gorgeous/likable apex, right around the time she made “The Bodyguard”), the circumstances (the Gulf War had just kicked off, so everyone was feeling especially patriotic) and the delivery (from a traditional standpoint, about as good as you’re ever getting). It’s hard to imagine a female singer ever belting out the anthem better than this. It’s also hard to believe how much Whitney’s stock has fallen over the past 20 years. Was she the Dwight Gooden of singers, or was he the Whitney Houston of pitchers? Did we ever figure that out?

(Note: There have always been rumors that Whitney lip-synched the performance, although I’ve always believed it was a Hollywood urban legend along the lines of Gene Siskel demanding to be buried with his thumb pointing up and Marisa Tomei winning an Oscar because Jack Palance read the wrong name. But if she DID lip-synch it … then that was the greatest lip-synching job of all-time.)

2. Edmonton Oilers fans (Game 3, Oilers-Ducks series, 2006)
A slight technicality because they’re singing the Canadian national anthem, but if your goose bumps aren’t getting goose bumps during this clip, then you might possibly be a cyborg. In fact, this was so outstanding on so many different levels, you might see me adopt the Oilers as my new hockey team and make an NHL comeback. How can you beat these fans? Seriously, how? Just an amazing clip. My favorite part is when they show the Ducks goalie laughing in sheer delight, like he’s thinking to himself, “Crap, why do I have to play in Anaheim?”

Inspirational Quotes

1.“It is never too late to be what you might have been.” – George Eliot
2.“If what you’re doing is not your passion, you have nothing to lose.”
3.“At first dreams seem impossible, then improbable, then inevitable.” – Christopher Reeve
4.“Remembering you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.” ~ Steve Jobs.
5.“Do what you love and the money will follow.” – Marsha Sinetar
6.“The more I want to get something done, the less I call it work.” – Richard Bach
7.“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs, ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who are alive.” – Howard Thurman
8.“All our dreams can come true – if we have the courage to pursue them.” – Walt Disney
9.“If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put foundations under them.” – Henry David Thoreau
10.“No matter where you are in life right now, no matter who you are, no matter how old you are – it is never too late to be who you are meant to be.” – Esther & Jerry Hicks
11.“There’s nothing capricious in nature, and the implanting of a desire indicates that its gratification is in the constitution of the creature that feels it.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
12.“Don’t be afraid of the space between your dreams and reality. If you can dream it, you can make it so.” – Belva Davis
13.“I challenge you to make your life a masterpiece. I challenge you to join the ranks of those people who live what they teach, who walk their talk.” ~ Tony Robbins

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14.“The world makes way for the man who knows where he is going.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
15.“Your goals are the road maps that guide you and show you what is possible for your life.” – Les Brown
16.“Make no small plans for they have no power to stir the soul.” – Niccolo Machiavelli
17.“No dreamer is ever too small; no dream is ever too big.” – Anonymous
18.“Never let your memories be greater than your dreams.” – Doug Ivester
19.“You got a dream, you gotta protect it. People can’t do something themselves, they wanna tell you you can’t do it. If you want something, go get it. Period.” – Pursuit of Happyness (Movie)
20.“History shows us that the people who end up changing the world – the great political, social, scientific, technological, artistic, even sports revolutionaries – are always nuts, until they are right, and then they are geniuses.” – John Eliot
21.“You will not do incredible things without an incredible dream.” – John Eliot
22.“Instead of thinking about what you are going to do when you retire, think about how you can do that now and make a living from it.”

23.“Don’t be pushed by your problems; be led by your dreams.”
24.“Everything you want should be yours: the type of work you want; the relationships you need; the social, mental, and aesthetic stimulation that will make you happy and fulfilled; the money you require for the lifestyle that is appropriate to you; and any requirement that you may (or may not) have for achievement or service to others. If you don’t aim for it all, you’ll never get it all. To aim for it requires that you know what you want” ~ Richard Koch
25.“I am not my memories. I am my dreams.” ~ Terry Hostetler
26.“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” – Les Brown
27.“Your imagination is your preview of life’s coming attractions.” ~ Albert Einstein
28.“Every second you spend thinking about someone else’s dreams you take time away from your own.” – Yogi Ramen
29.“What the mind can conceive, it can achieve.” – Napoleon Hill
30.“20 years from now you will be disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the one’s you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover” ~ Mark Twain

Goals
In life, as in football, you won’t go far unless you know where the goalposts are.” – Arnold H. Glasgow
2.“When we are motivated by goals that have deep meaning, by dreams that need completion, by pure love that needs expressing, then we truly live life.” – Greg Anderson
3.“The most important thing about goals is having one.” – Geoffry F. Abert
4.“The only reason we don’t have what we want in life is the reasons we create why we can’t have them.” ~Tony Robbins
5.“The trouble with not having a goal is that you can spend your life running up and down the field and never score.” – Bill Copeland
6.“If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much.” – Jim Rohn
7.“Everything is always created twice, first in the mind and then in reality.”
8.“You need a plan to build a house. To build a life, it is even more important to have a plan or goal.” – Zig Ziglar
9.“The tragedy of life doesn’t lie in not reaching your goal. The tragedy lies in having no goals to reach.” ~ Benjamin Mays
10.“People with clear, written goals, accomplish far more in a shorter period of time than people without them could ever imagine.”
11.“A goal is a dream with a deadline.” Napolean Hill

Hard work
1.“I’m a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it.” – Thomas Jefferson
2.“There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, learning from failure.”~ Colin Powell
3.“The harder I work, the luckier I get.” – Gary Player
4.Success is 99% attitude and 1% aptitude.
5.“It is your attitude, not your aptitude, that determines your altitude.” – Zig Ziglar

1.“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” – Barack Obama
2.“All great changes are preceded by chaos.” ~ Deepak Chopra
3.“Change is not pleasant, But change is constant. Only when we change and grow, We’ll see a world we never know.” ~From Wisdom of The Orange Woodpecker
4.You cannot control what happens to you, but you can control your attitude toward what happens to you, and in that, you will be mastering change rather than allowing it to master you. ~ Sri Ram
5.“Your life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change.” – Jim Rohn

Honesty
1.“The greatest advantage of speaking the truth is that you don’t have to remember what you said.”
2.“Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom.”

Quotes on Imagination and Creativity
1.“Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.” ~ Albert Einstein.
2.“Your imagination is your preview of life’s coming attractions.” ~ Albert Einstein
3.“All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.” ~ Pablo Picasso
4.“Man’s mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes