An artist of the musical persuasion is just a singer, more of a musician, or truly a singer-songwriter depending on how they perform their art (and whom you ask). An artist of the audio/visual ilk is just an entertainer, more of an actor/thespian, or truly a performer. If their aesthetics align with what the average person would envision when hearing the words, “gorgeous,” “magnetic,” or “heavenly,” then you’d probably agree that they have “star power.” They don’t just sing or play instruments well, they don’t just convincingly pretend to be people they aren’t — they inspire excitement, desire, and intense adoration, leading to voyeuristic devotion that is infinitely monetizable.
I’d never wondered what “star power” meant in relation to professional athletes until very recently as the result of conversations with two different friends.
Me (while watching the Miami Heat increase their lead against the Philadelphia 76ers): And you said the Miami Heat isn’t sexy enough. It’s the uniforms, right? Too ketchup, sliver of mustard on the side, and napkins?
Friend 1: No, it’s the lack of star power.
Me: Ahh, ye old raw talent and skills but no rockstar lead singer with the hair and the leather pants and the mayhem that make the ladies and some gents go primal?
Me: Friend 1 clarified that the Miami Heat is not sexy b/c they don’t have star power. I’m interpreting that to mean… a team can have lots of raw skills and talent but have no rockstar lead singer. Nobody with the hair and leather pants to make the ladies and some gentlemen go wild.
Friend 2: That is 100% what the San Antonio Spurs are/were. The Heat’s biggest star is Jimmy Butler. They do not have a Lebron James, Kevin Durant, Chris Paul, James Harden, Steph Curry, etc. You should ask Friend 1 who he considers a bigger star: Jimmy Butler or Trae Young.
Me: Hmmm, but isn’t basketball inherently much more of a collaborative sport than football? Eg, in any NFL or college team, you could point to the quarterback or kicker as “responsible” for scoring. Defense obviously has to be really good too, but.
Friend 2: Hmm… I think NBA is actually more about individual stars than the NFL is.
Me: Fascinating… and yet I see what you mean.
Friend 2: It is fascinating.
Me: Good basketball players play very well together like a jazz band. Good football players that play well together…. just execute the plays well?
Friend 2: There are basketball purists who dislike how the NBA promotes players over teams, especially in marketing. The Spurs were the definition of team basketball. team over individuals. but the NBA has become very individualistic.
Me: Meanwhile, baseball has always been individualistic, even when it takes good teamwork to take advantage of “bases loaded” situations.
Friend 2: The opening is on-point [voiced by] Magic Johnson.
“So many times we promote the individual (Lebron, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant), but then we leave out something that is really unique and special, and that’s team and team basketball. I sat and watched this team carve the Clippers up playing basic, fundamental basketball, and it was beautiful to watch. It reminded me of my era, the way we used to play the Celtics — just smart and great basketball.”
If you’re an NBA fan, if you’re a Miami Heat fan, if you’re a Jimmy Butler fan, do you think he has star power? Which NBA players deserve more love and could very well be the big hair band rockstar if only properly marketed?