After 40 years in the Detroit suburbs, Eminem greeted the Detroit Pistons officially when they returned to “our city” on Wednesday night at Little Caesars Arena.
The rapper startled the crowd by strutting courtside to the tunes of “Lose Yourself” shortly after the Pistons and Charlotte Hornets players were introduced. He was wearing a black hoodie and a blue Pistons shirt.
Taking over for announcer John Mason, Eminem enthused the audience:
“Detroit, welcome them back to our city, your city, and mine for the first time in over 40 years! Raise a glass in honor of the Detroit Pistons. Come on, let’s go!”
After that, he moved to a seat on the courtside with producer and fellow D12 member Denaun Porter and manager Paul Rosenberg.
Big Sean, a rapper from Detroit, was also present for the evening, which marked the Pistons’ first NBA regular-season game in the city after they moved from Cobo Arena to Auburn Hills and Pontiac in 1978.
It was Eminem’s second high-profile engagement in nine days after a protracted period of time spent largely hidden from American audiences. The Detroit rapper shot to fаme last week when he released a ferocious freestyle rap criticizing President Trump.
Eminem unleashes a furious freestyle rap during the BET Hip Hop Awards, criticizing Dоnald Trump.
After twenty years, Kid Rock, Eminem, and ICP continue to be politically and culturally significant.
Was the Pistons organization making a statement with Eminem’s booking? It could be read this way by some: It came after Kid Rock, a former associate and collaborator of Eminem in the Detroit scene, gave an inaugural series of concerts at the recently constructed arena last month.
Their final positions on opposing sides of the political spectrum have only become more stark in recent weeks. Eminem is adamantly against the president and supports NFL national anthem protests, as evidenced by his viral rap. Kid Rock has openly supported the president while mocking athletes who choose to “take a knee.”
Ninety thоusand people attended Rock’s six-night debut run in September, which also sparked protests and controversy. Given his support for Trump and his history of flying the Confederate flag, protesters claimed Kid Rock was an inappropriate choice to inaugurate Detroit’s new arena.
After his team defeated the Lakers 102-90, Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy remarked, “I thought just having Eminem up there was great as a Detroit guy.” “I felt it was fantastic that (owner of the Pistons) Tom Groye—and if NBA commissioner Adam Silver was involved—to consider that. I believe that by including Eminem in it, they were able to make a message without actually saying anything.
Following their 29-year reign at the Palace of Auburn Hills, the Pistons’ inaugural night at LCA included a few more extravagances. Prior to the game, Detroit rapper Dej Loaf had a performance on the court, and the arena public address system played hometown hip-hop throughout the evening.
After a warm-up act outside for incoming fans, Flushing resident and 2016 “American Idol” contestant Manny Torres sang the national anthem.
At the intermission, singer-songwriter Skylar Grey—a former partner of Eminem—took the keyboard to perform her moving, aptly named song “Coming Home.”