S.O.S.: Canadians react to Sting playing NBA All-Star halftime in Toronto

TORONTO -- Some basketball fans are sending out an SOS about the choice of Sting to headline the NBA all-star game's halftime show next month in Toronto.

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The 16-time Grammy Award winner was trending on Twitter after Thursday's announcement, and some users -- including former Toronto mayor Rob Ford -- were expressing outrage.

Some questioned why a local act wasn't chosen to headline, noting Canadian artists including Drake and Justin Bieber are dominating the Billboard charts.

Others said they didn't feel the "Message in a Bottle" singer-songwriter and former frontman for the Police was the right fit for a blockbuster basketball event.

"Really @Toronto2016? Sting? What were your backup options, Cher and the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra? How about some TORONTO talent!" said a tweet from Ford's account.

Ford, who's now a city councillor, added there were "so many options," including the Weeknd, Rush, Barenaked Ladies, Kardinal Offishall and Deadmau5.

Chuck Swirsky, a former play-by-play announcer for the Toronto Raptors who now calls Chicago Bulls games, tweeted: "Kind of surprised Drake wasn't selected as featured entertainer at All Star Weekend. Nothing against Sting but....."

Still, some defended the choice.

"Sting has been selling out stadiums, exploring world beats, influencing the artists that you love, writing his own songs ... getting sampled AND fighting for human rights long before most of the people complaining about him on social media were born," said "Hockey Night in Canada" host George Stroumboulopoulos in a series of tweets.

Stroumboulopoulos added NBA officials "probably know more about their target than those who aren't in the meetings."

"Why do some people think that the NBA needs a gangster artist? That's a question they probably don't want the answer to."

Sting, who kicks off a tour with Peter Gabriel in June, will play the halftime show at the Air Canada Centre on Feb. 14 and Montreal acrobatic troupe Cirque du Soleil will also perform.

Last year's halftime artist was Ariana Grande, with a guest appearance from Nicki Minaj. In 2014 the halftime show included Janelle Monae and Earth, Wind, and Fire. The 2013 headliner was Alicia Keys.

Earlier this month, organizers announced Toronto rapper Drake will coach Canada's team at the NBA all-star celebrity game on Feb. 12 at the Ricoh Coliseum.

The Canuck team includes two-time NBA MVP Steve Nash and Toronto Blue Jays all-star right-fielder Jose Bautista.

Comedy star Kevin Hart will coach the U.S. team, which includes actors Michael B. Jordan and Jason Sudeikis.


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