Metallica members to play national anthem at Game 3 of NBA Finals

The NBA just announced that James Hetfield and Kirk Hammett of the legendary Bay Area band Metallica will play the national anthem at Oracle Arena in Oakland ahead of Game 3 of the NBA Finals between the Golden State Warriors and the Toronto Raptors.

Hetfield, the frontman of the group, and Hammett, a native San Franciscan, have played the national anthem at Bay Area sporting events several times before. And judging from this video of their rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” from a 2017 San Francisco Giants game, it’ll likely be a guitar version of the anthem. Earlier this year, Hammett played the national anthem at a sold out Giants-Yankees game. Lars Ulrich threw out the first pitch at the game.

People on Twitter had mixed reactions of the news. One person said, “As a Metallica fan in Toronto, I’m sorry you won’t be doing O Canada as well.” Instead of Metallica, Canadian singer Tenille Arts will sing “O Canada” at Game 3.

Another person said he’d only be tuning into Game 3 to see the metal legends play. “Am I still technically watching the unwatchable @nba if I simply tune in to only see these guys perform?” he wrote.

There were others who were excited about the prospect of Hetfield and Hammett bringing the metal to the Finals, with some sharing gifs of Hetfield in his younger years, but some others, like this Twitter user, were asking why.

That’s a good question that becomes a bit more interesting when you factor in that R&B singer Ne-Yo, who is from Arkansas, was tapped to sing the national anthem for Game 4. But the Bay Area has several talented young singers who could kick off either of the duo of Finals games slated for Oakland this week. There’s the Grammy Award-nominated singer and Oakland native Kehlani, for example. And Vallejo-native H.E.R. won two Grammy Awards this year. They’re both internationally recognized for their work, though not as well known as Metallica.

In 2015, Metallica played Game 5 of the Warriors championship run, so perhaps Golden State is trying to recreate some magic from that era.

Game 3 of the 2019 NBA Finals tips off at Oracle Arena in Oakland on June 5 at 6 p.m.

Drew Costley is an SFGATE editorial assistant. Email: | Twitter: @drewcostley

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