Celeb Spotting at NBA Games

Last Modified: 9th Sep

The NBA is the biggest competition in basketball and, as a sport that attracts millions of viewers across the globe, it’s natural that it should have its share of celebrity fans. The glamour of the association has turned many players into celebs in their own right and it’s no surprise that they gravitate towards like-minded individuals.

Celebrities have appeared courtside for many years now but who are the biggest celebrity fans and just why are they so highly attracted to the NBA?

The Biggest Fans in History

The trend for celebrity basketball fans is set to continue and the current crop of supporters are following a rich legacy. The great Jack Nicholson has been one of the most ardent fans of all time and the actor has been backing his beloved LA Lakers team for decades.

Other big celebrity fans of Nicholson’s generation include Woody Allen who was a devout follower of the New York Knicks. Elsewhere, fans of the LA Clippers have been used to seeing Billy Crystal lend his support.

Across the NBA, celebs have been part and parcel of the courtside attractions for many years. Nicholson, Allen, and Crystal were frequently joined by Phil Mickelson at the Phoenix Suns, Jesse Ventura at Minnesota Timberwolves, and Tiger Woods at Orlando Magic.

The legacy of celeb fans at the NBA has, meanwhile, been passed down to the next generation.

The Current Crop

Famous Hollywood actors of the more recent past have been joined by artists who are a little more ‘current’. Among today’s crop of celebrity fans are Usher at the Cleveland Cavaliers, Drake at Toronto Raptors, Sacha Grey at Sacramento Kings, Kid Rock at Detroit Pistons, and Macklemore at Utah Jazz.

When their own schedules allow, you can spot these and many other familiar faces at NBA games across the country. Even when touring or filming means they are absent, there will be a host of other celebrities waiting to take their seats.

Following an NBA team is a passion that started in younger years and the desire to be present as much as possible remains in later life. Other celebrities look to take that passion and run a little further with it.

Taking it a Stage Further

Of those who follow the NBA on a regular basis in the present day, Jay-Z is arguably the most identifiable. The rapper even took his interest a stage further by purchasing a small stake in the franchise.

Jay-Z sold that stake in 2020 but his input had helped to turn the Nets into winners on the court. The franchise has never won the NBA Championship in its entire history but, by adding some top-class talent to its roster, the Brooklyn-based team is expected to end that run soon.

In fact, according to current NBA odds, the Nets are the outright favorites to win the title at the end of the 2021/22 season. They were in the same position in 2021/22 and, while they couldn’t quite get over the line, the ultimate prize looks to be within their grasp.

Legal technicalities may have forced Jay-Z to sell his stake but his legacy is an important one and this is a genuine reason as to why some celebrities love going to the NBA. Financial input can literally transform a team from also-rans into contenders.

High Profile

A cynical view on the subject might suggest that those celebrities are looking for a boost in their own popularity. Perhaps they’ve got a new track or a new movie coming out and an appearance courtside at the NBA can be an important part of the promotional bandwagon.

In most cases, however, the celebs in question are simply major fans of their team. They may have no great desire to lift their profile any higher but they are certainly using their celebrity status in order to get closer to the game.

And why not? We all love to be courtside whenever we can and that’s an opportunity that we would all take up if it were possible.

Working Both Ways

NBA’s legion of celebrity fans gets a lot from their passion: They are as close to the action as it’s possible to be and it’s certain that they are among the first names on the list for awards nights and other social occasions.

The celebrity presence can also help to boost interest and revenue for the franchise in question. Effectively, they are endorsing their team and, if the celeb in question happens to be your favorite actor or favorite musician, it can be a logical step to support their NBA side.

Ticket sales and merchandising revenue can follow so a celebrity supporter can help an NBA franchise in more ways than one.

As we have seen, there are many reasons why a celebrity loves to go to an NBA game. The urge to be seen in public and to maintain a high profile can be one of the drivers behind their presence at every match throughout the regular season and the playoffs.

At times, those profiles need to be raised and a public appearance such as this is a good way in which to promote new work.

But, in the main, celebrities are present simply because they love the game and we shouldn’t begrudge their ability to take advantage of the best seats in the house.

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