- Michigan-native Eminem was cheered when he was brought out ahead of the Pistons first game in their new arena to introduce the team.
- Later in the game, Pistons fans booed Kid Rock when he was shown on the Jumbotron.
- The crowd’s reactions may have had more to do with politics than musical taste.
On Wednesday the Detroit Pistons had their home opener in the newly-constructed Little Caesars Arena, which brought both the Pistons and Red Wings back to Detroit after years of playing at The Palace located in the suburbs of the city.
To kick off the festivities and welcome to the team to the court, the Pistons invited Detroit-legend and prominent Pistons fan Eminem to make a surprise appearance to hype the crowd up ahead of the game, with the backing track of “Lose Yourself” playing as he spoke.
“Detroit, welcome them back for the first time in over 40 years to our city, to my city, to your city! Make some noise for the Detroit Pistons. Let’s go!”
The introduction was met with cheers from the crowd.
Eminem was not the only musical act in the building that night, as fellow Michigan-native and longtime Pistons fan Kid Rock was also present to take in the first game of the season. Kid Rock, however, did not receive nearly as warm a reception, reportedly getting booed by fans when shown on the Jumbotron.
The split between boos and cheers for the two artists likely has much more to do with their politics than the relative quality of their records.
While the two were once collaborators in the Detroit music scene, Kid Rock and Eminem have recently found themselves far apart on the political spectrum. Eminem recently made headlines with his Trump-centric freestyle that was filled with barbs at the president. Meanwhile, Kid Rock has become a prominent Trump supporter of late, teasing a run for the senate and echoing the president’s harsh criticisms of NFL players that kneel during the national anthem.
For some, the move to invite Eminem to introduce the Pistons on Wednesday night was a subtle jab at Kid Rock, who opened the Little Caesars Arena with a six night residency. According to the Detroit Free Press, the run of shows drew over 90,000 fans, but also brought criticism and protests due to Kid Rock’s support for the president and repeated usage of confederate flag imagery.
It’s not altogether surprising that local fans of the Pistons would want to boo Kid Rock for his politics — while the state of Michigan was won by Donald Trump by just 11,000 votes, Hillary Clinton won Wayne County, where Detroit is located, by almost 300,000.
After the game, Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy said he enjoyed having Eminem there to open the game, and expressed that the move did work to send a subtle message about where the league stands on the current political spectrum.
“I thought just having Eminem up there was great, as a Detroit guy. I thought it was great of [Pistons owner] Tom [Gores] and if Adam Silver was involved, to think about that. Without making any statement, they were able to make a statement, by involving Eminem in it.”
The Pistons won their home opener, defeating the Charlotte Hornets 102-90.