The Lakers return tonight to L.A. for Game 3 of the NBA Finals, and if there's anything we learned from Game 2 it's that it takes talent, luck and some love from the judges (refs, in this case) to win. No one knows this better than American Idol winner David Cook, who will be singing the National Anthem at tonight's Lakers-Celtics showdown. Cook follows in the footsteps of past idol winners Kelly Clarkson, Ruben Studdard, Carrie Underwood, Taylor Hicks and Jordin Sparks, who have all sung the Anthem at a Finals game.
In between recording an album, preparing to go on tour with Idol and balancing all the other demands of his newfound stardom, Cook made time to tell us why he won't be cheering for the Lakers—or Celtics—at the Finals.
Will you be sporting a Lakers jersey or a Celtics jersey during your performance?
You know, it's tough for me. My older brother went to Indiana State so by proxy I'm a Larry Bird fan, but nothing beats Showtime and the Lakers. I'll probably dress in something mutual.
Are you going to do the half-and-half jersey, ala Brady Quinn's sis?
I don't know about the half-and-half jersey. I may just try to stay away from any sort of team affiliation. I was thinking of wearing my Royals jersey.
Have you been watching the playoffs?
I didn't get to watch Game 2 but I heard it was an amazing game. They've kind of kept me pretty busy trying to get ready for this tour and this record. I've been trying to keep up as much as possible. I was really excited at the beginning of the season with all the moves that the Celtics made. It seems like all of those moves paid off and got them here.
There's been a lot of American Idol winners who've sung in the Finals, who's your favorite past winner?
That's a tough question. I've been a real residual viewer in the past. I'm going to go with who I've met and say Carrie Underwood and Jordin Sparks, probably a tie. They've been very, very supportive.
You bartended in Oklahoma, were born in Texas, raised in Missouri and now you're in L.A. Who do you cheer for?
I spent a majority of my life in Kansas City, so I am a Chiefs and Royals guy. I used to work for the Royals for like five years in the suites department and in the stadium club restaurant. The Royals allowed me to make some money, which was nice. With the Chiefs, you can't live in Kansas City and not like the Chiefs. To go catch a game at Arrowhead is a pretty great experience. I haven't had the chance to go to games anywhere else, but, from what I'm told, I don't really need to.
You haven't been to a game anywhere but K.C.?
Well, I've been to a couple games out here in L.A. with the Dodgers. And actually, I think the Royals just traded Angel Berroa to the Dodgers.
Think it's a good trade?
You know it depends. At the end of the day I certainly enjoyed Berroa when he played for the Royals. He won the Rookie of the Year award in '04 or '03 [Ed.'s Note: He was ROY in 2003, beating out the likes of Hideki Matsui and Mark Teixeira.] I thought he was a great contributor to the Royals while he was there.
What's the craziest thing that ever happened at Royal's stadium when you were there?
Besides them having a winning record that one season? The craziest thing for me was getting to throw the first pitch. I was joking around all day saying, "I'm gonna shake 'em up and throw a curve ball." Then I get in the dugout and a couple of the players are like, "Aw man, you got to short-hop him." Brett Tomko was the guy who was catching. We're getting ready to go out on to the field and Tomko tells me, "Hey, just so you know, there was a celebrity that came through and he threw out the first pitch and he short-hopped it and they booed him off the field." And so then I started freaking out, I don't want to get booed of the field! So I just threw a four-seam fastball and barely made it there. I almost threw it in the dirt and then Brett Tomko comes up to me and goes, "Great slider." It wasn't a slider, but I didn't have the heart to tell him.
What's been the coolest thing you've done post-Idol?
I actually got to write with one of my musical heroes, a guy named Raine Maida from Our Lady Peace. I got to sit down and write some songs with him, and that was pretty heavy. I listened to Our Lady Peace growing up. It got me through the teenage angst.
Have you gotten used to all the fan attention yet?
No, not at all. I mean, really the attention has only been around since the end of February but before that I couldn't get people to pay attention to me. It's a different beast for sure. I'm just trying to be levelheaded about. I understand that fame is fleeting, so I'm trying to enjoy it as it comes and not look too far ahead.
At least you'll be used to big audiences. Have you thought about what you'll say after you sing the anthem?
I'm probably not going to say a word. It's better to keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt. I'm probably just going to keep it short and sweet.