Raptors go for celebrity-free national anthem in Game 5 of NBA finals

NBA analyst Eric Smith on the Jeff Blair discussing the legitimacy of a potential Toronto Raptors NBA championship compared to past winners.

TORONTO — Canada, this national anthem is for you.

As the Toronto Raptors head into a potentially historic Game 5 in the NBA Finals on Monday, there won’t be a famous face singing O Canada at the Scotiabank Arena.

Instead, the NBA says it will be up to "all fans" inside the venue, and across the country, to sing loud and proud.

Dave Haggith, senior director of communications for Maple Leafs Sports & Entertainment, told The Canadian Press that longtime national anthem performer Doug Tranquada will lead the crowd inside the venue.

He added that the moment is expected to be interspersed with live footage from the Jurassic Park fan zone outside the arena before the Raptors face the Golden State Warriors.

The Star-Spangled Banner will still be performed by a familiar vocalist — Grammy-winning R&B singer Monica, best known for her chart-topping duet "The Boy is Mine" with Brandy.

The Raptors could be headed towards a momentous night — they could secure their first championship title in history.

Fans reacted warmly on social media to the planned O Canada rendition, with some welcoming "thinking outside the box" and saying the moment was sure to elicit "goosebumps."

Celebrity performances of Canada’s national anthem, however, have drawn mixed reviews during the NBA Finals.

Saskatchewan-born country singer Tenille Arts faced some backlash on social media after Game 3 as several people accused her of "butchering" the anthem by veering away from its familiar tune. Walk Off the Earth divided audiences for Game 4 when the four members gathered around a triple-necked string instrument for an acoustic folk version of O Canada.

Pop singer Alessia Cara fared better in Game 2 when she paused her a capella performance mid-song to let Raptors fans take the spotlight and largely sing the rest.


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