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Famous NBA Fans: Top 5 Celebrity Basketball Supporters

Publish Date: 24.05.2024
Fact checked by: Emily Carter

Everyone likes sports, and that includes celebrities. While stadiums always fill up with fans eager to cheer on their favorite team, contests always feel a little bit bigger when someone famous is in the stands. That’s especially true in a league like the NBA.

Basketball is a high-profile sport with a range of high-profile fans. Though players are the primary focus, there are a number of teams linked to a specific celebrity. That doesn’t just make the team more interesting, it also typically moves them more into the public eye.

When a famous person likes a team it brings extra attention to that franchise and can expand them beyond the sport. That’s why so many people notice when famous people like NBA teams, and why such interest creates new fans as well.

jack nicholson graffiti

1. Jack Nicholson – Los Angeles Lakers

When many fans think of the Lakers, their mind often goes to the big name players like Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal, Magic Johson, and LeBron James. However, many who follow the team closely likely associate them with Jack Nicholson as well.

The big time star has been going to Lakers games ever since he first made it onto the big screen. Not only that, but he sits courtside and usually makes his presence known by cheering loudly, talking to players or, in some cases, even arguing with the referees.

Nicholson first bought his season tickets way back in the 1970’s. That brought extra attention to the sport and pushed the already-popular Lakers into the forefront of popular culture in a way that blended Hollywood and the NBA for the first time.

Ever since his first appearance at Staples center, Nicholson has been a die-hard fan. He’s attended hundreds of games, including postseason and finals matches, to the point where cameras, media, and other fans all expect him to be there.

Not only that, but the actor has a famously large personality. So large, that he often argued with the refs and yelled at the court. He’s been thrown out of a few contests for his outbursts, but that just reflects his passion for the game.

2. Drake – Toronto Raptors

Every NBA team represents a city or stats, but the Raptors are the only ones to represent an entire country. Acting as the NBA’s foothold in Canada, the franchise has a slew of Canadian celebrity fans. None are as popular or as vocal as Drake.

The rapper/singer has always been a big basketball fan, and he used his celebrity to ingratiate himself with his favorite team. Starting out as a normal fan, Drake quickly began sitting courtside and repping the Raptors whenever he could both in the media and his normal life.

Now, he’s linked to the team in numerous ways. Not only has he brought more attention to them by sitting courtside and hanging out with the players, but he also made them more popular by going to promotional events as well.

His personal involvement in such activities brought more people, which in turn led to the Raptors becoming a bigger market team. They already had the Canadian fan base, but getting one of the most famous NBA fans involved raised their popularity even more.

3. Spike Lee – New York Knicks

Most famous NBA fans are content to go to games, root for their team, and largely stay out of the spotlight. That’s not the case for Spike Lee. The director isn’t just a big Knicks fan, he’s a Knicks fan who’s made his presence known more than a few times over the years.

A native New Yorker, Lee is an avid supporter of the team. To show his support, he’s often sat courtside and attended all big games since first getting season tickets in 1985. He loves to show out, and does so by wearing fun outfits in his team’s colors.

However, like Nicholson and other famous basketball fans, he has a lot of personality. During the 90’s he brought extra media attention to the Knicks. Not just as a result of his own celebrity, but for yelling at players, the refs, and even getting into a heated debate with Reggie Miller.

Such antics show Lee’s passion, but they’ve also gotten him into hot water every now and then. Despite that, the Knicks have always backed him up. He’s a super fan who still comes to any and all important games when possible.

4. Billy Crystal – Los Angeles Clippers

NBA celebrity fans almost always support their home team. However, in the case of Billy Crystal, he roots for an adopted franchise rather than a home-grown one. Though most might expect him to root for the Knicks or Nets, the New York native is a big Clippers fan.

The comedic actor started rooting for the franchise when he moved to Los Angeles. Though he, like many others, initially bought Lakers seats, he went to a Clippers game with a friend and quickly fell in love with the team’s underdog feeling.

That love only further grew as time went on. He never wavered, even when the Clippers were bad or didn’t make the best draft picks, he’s stuck with them through thick and thin. He was first a fan when they couldn’t win, and he’s still a big fan to this day.

That dedication to the Clippers shows how fans fall in love with a team. Crystal may not have grown up with the Clippers, but once he went to see them in person he quickly bought season tickets and never looked back.

5. Justin Timerblack – Memphis Grizzlies

In most cases, famous NBA fans love their team from afar. The above list has a few exceptions, but none of them are as involved with the franchise as singer Justin Timberlake is with his hometown team the Memphis Grizzlies.

The singer is initially from Memphis and grew up a Grizzlies fan. After gaining money and worldwide acclaim, he made a move to buy a stake in the franchise by becoming a minority owner of the team with his wife Jessica Biel.

That combination makes him one of the more directly involved famous NBA fans of all time. He didn’t just become a fan or stay on the sidelines, he became directly involved with the team and now has a personal stake in their success.

That, combined with the fact that he’s often seen at games, works with local celebrities, and does a good job with team events, is why Timberlake is one of the most famous basketball fans of all time.

Conclusion

Celebrities have a large impact on sports. They bring extra eyes to a team or franchise, help raise up interest in the organization, and make the league feel even bigger. Having them be interested in sports takes the game to a whole new level in the public eye.

While the NBA has a large fan base, celebrities being involved in or coming to games can get more eyes on the league. Crossing over to mainstream media or popular culture is not something every sports league can do, but celebrities or famous fans make it much easier.

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