Celebrity sighting: Each NBA team’s most passionate celebrity fan
Every NBA team has high-profile fans. Some teams, like the Lakers, have virtually every star in Hollywood rooting for them, while teams like the Jazz barely have one celebrity fan to their name.
Here is each NBA team’s most passionate celebrity fan.
Atlanta Hawks: 2 Chainz
Georgia native and expert wordsmith, rapper 2 Chainz is all things Atlanta, but his favorite bird of them all is the Hawk (sorry Falcons). In 2019, 2 Chainz, a frequent flyer at Hawks games, announced that he had acquired a minority stake in the Atlanta Hawks’ NBA G League affiliate, the College Park Skyhawks. Now that’s dedication.
Not only is 2 Chainz enthralled with the NBA, but he’s also passionate about the league’s much-less-exciting little brother, the G League. 2 Chainz has performed numerous halftime shows at Hawks games and even has his own custom jersey-style T-shirt that was sold in Atlanta.
Boston Celtics: Mark Wahlberg
Mr. Boston himself is obviously a Celtics fan. It seems like every other movie Mark Wahlberg does is either filmed in Boston or has him portraying someone with an obnoxiously heavy Boston accent. But there’s reason for this: Wahlberg loves his city. Wahlberg is active on social media and even clamored for the Celtics to trade for Jimmy Butler.
Although he didn’t get his wish (Butler went to Miami), Wahlberg is still about as passionate as they come, sporting his Celtics jersey and hat whenever possible. Sidenote: Wahlberg is, of course, a huge Patriots fan and friend of Tom Brady.
Brooklyn Nets: JAY-Z
The legendary rapper was one of the main reasons the Nets got out of Dodge, aka New Jersey, and landed in Brooklyn. While JAY-Z may be regarded as a huge fan and thought of as Brooklyn’s biggest owner, he’s actually not. When he bought his ownership stake in the team, it was for just .15%, and was purchased for about a million dollars.
Yes, that’s way less than even 1% of the team. When he sold his stake in the club to become a certified NBA agent, it was for about $350,000, a significant loss from his initial investment. Don’t worry, though, his stake in the Barclays Center, which he still owns, is valued at $2 million.
Charlotte Hornets: Michael Jordan
There are two reasons why M.J. is Charlotte’s biggest fan by default. The first is that he owns the team. While he’s near-universally considered the greatest hooper of all time, something he severely lacks is talent evaluation. That means his Hornets are perpetually bad and have annual meltdowns at the NBA Draft, with Jordan and his front office reaching on a bunch of future busts.
And what does that misery translate to? Not many fans and even fewer diehards. And that is reason two why Jordan is the team’s biggest fan. Because he’s always there rooting on his baby when no one else in the Queen City is.
Cleveland Cavaliers: Usher
The man behind the hit singles “Yeah” and “Burn,” Usher was one of the biggest pop stars of the 2000s and amassed a fortune singing about heartbreak and romance. While not a Cleveland native, Usher decided to use his money to purchase a minority stake in the Cavs in 2005.
The group completed the purchase for $375 million, with Usher having about a 1% stake in the club. Turns out that was an incredibly sound investment for Usher. Today, the Cavaliers are valued at over $1 billion. You bet Usher was on the court when they completed their historic 3-1 comeback against the Golden State Warriors.
Dallas Mavericks: Mark Cuban
Mark Cuban is arguably the biggest superfan owner in the NBA. Cuban, who made his money during the Dot Com Bubble, purchased a majority stake of the struggling Dallas Mavericks back in 2000 for a cool $285 million. Prior to Cuban’s ownership, the Mavs were usually thought of as the doormat of the league.
Since his takeover, the Mavs have been one of the more consistent teams in the NBA and won their first Finals in 2011 over the Miami Heat. Cuban’s passion for basketball and his team hasn’t been without criticism, though, from players and officials alike. Cuban has been one of the most-fined owners in the NBA thanks to his incessant yelling from his seat behind the Mavs bench.
Denver Nuggets: John Elway
John Elway basically became the de facto mayor of Denver after winning two Super Bowls in the late ’90s. Let’s face it, Denver wasn’t a thriving sports scene prior to the Broncos’ success under Elway. The Rockies and Avalanche didn’t exist for most of the 20th century, while the Nuggets were known for their uniforms and really nothing more.
That left Elway and the Orange Crush to rule the land, and rule they did, albeit without a Super Bowl victory until 1997. Once Elway brought Denver a much-needed championship, he became the city’s most beloved figure. Since then, he’s been a staple at Nuggets games, and he currently manages the Broncos.
Detroit Pistons: Eminem
Iconic Detroit rapper Marshall Mathers III, best known as Eminem, is universally respected in the rap game and became the first hip-hop artist to win an Academy Award for Best Original Song (“Lose Yourself”) thanks to his gritty performance in the film 8 Mile.
Throughout his career, Eminem has repped Detroit hard, and for a while, he was the city’s main source of pride. When the Pistons left The Palace of Auburn Hills — their suburban arena that they called home for nearly 40 years — for their new downtown Detroit arena, Eminem was there to hype up the crowd.
Golden State Warriors: MC Hammer
Let’s be honest with ourselves here: The vast majority of Warriors “fans” didn’t exist before Steph Curry and his lethal three-pointer became a staple of today’s NBA landscape. It wouldn’t even be too far of a stretch to say those “fans” didn’t even know the Warriors existed. However, Golden State does have a true superfan in their ranks, one man that goes by the name of MC Hammer.
MC Hammer is all things Oakland. He grew up in the city, was a batboy for the A’s, and even produced his first record using loan money from a few A’s players. During the Warriors’ remarkable stretch of Finals appearances, Hammer was as ingrained with the team as anybody, usually sitting courtside and celebrating victories with the players. Can’t touch that.
Houston Rockets: Beyoncé
In 2016, Fortune named Beyoncé the 51st Most Powerful Woman in Business. The Houston native is savvy in all facets of life; now couple her with her übersuccessful husband JAY-Z, and you have arguably a top-5 power couple in the United States. Back in 2017, Beyoncé, who prefers to go by the Queen, began publicly exploring the idea of owning an NBA team, much like her husband.
Houston owner Tilman Fertitta told a Bloomberg podcast that, “It’s a compliment to have somebody like Beyoncé to want to be a part of your team.” Alas, no deal ever went through, but the fact that Beyoncé publicly expressed an interest in owning the Rockets, and the team owner espoused the idea, means she is to be taken seriously as Rockets fan No. 1.
Indiana Pacers: Mike Epps
Yikes. Finding a Pacers superfan is like finding a needle in a haystack. It may take forever. It may be impossible. And it may be painful. Yet after an arduous search combing the wheat fields of Indiana, we stumbled upon a diehard Pacers fan by the name of Mike Epps. Epps, a stand-up comedian, actor, writer, and rapper, grew up in Indianapolis before moving to Brooklyn later in life.
As the saying goes, you can take the man out of Indy, but you can’t take the Indy out of the man, or something like that. Anyhow, in a 2019 interview with The Undefeated, Epps said, “Man, I’ve been a Pacers fan since Billy Knight, since the late ’70s, so to talk to me about Pacers, I’m just a die-hard fan, period.”
LA Clippers: Billy Crystal
Someone needs to root for the Clippers, right? The long-forgotten ugly third cousin of the Lakers, the Clippers have been an LA afterthought for just about ever. Most of the Clippers’ existence in LA has been marked by empty seats and losing. In short, they’ve been hard to root for. Enter Billy Crystal. Crystal has been a faithful season-ticket holder since 1985, back when the Clips played in the LA Sports Arena.
The Clippers, wanting to honor Crystal’s unwavering loyalty, allowed Crystal to announce a game back during the 2018 season next to legendary announcer Ralph Lawler. Look for Crystal to be especially hyped up this season with the addition of Paul George and Kawhi Leonard.
LA Lakers: Jack Nicholson
He’s there, every game, sunglasses on, rooting for the purple and gold. Why the sunglasses indoors? Can’t tell you. But what we can tell you is that Jack Nicholson loves his Lakers. He’s been a season-ticket holder since 1970 and has had courtside seats at the Forum and STAPLES Center for nearly 30 years. See, the Lakers embody LA. They are all flash, hype, and show.
Hence the nickname “Showtime Lakers.” With all of that glitz and glamour comes the steady presence of global stars from virtually every industry. Actors, singers, and athletes show up to each home game, making the basketball game seem more like a celebrity-spotting safari, with Nicholson being the main attraction.
Memphis Grizzlies: Justin Timberlake
The pride of Memphis, at least the new version, Justin Timberlake doesn’t give off a southern vibe, but deep down, he’s a Memphis man until the end. In 2012, Timberlake purchased a minority stake in the Memphis Grizzlies, and has been a very vocal supporter of the squad ever since.
Timberlake even got into a quick Twitter war with someone who had the audacity to call him a bandwagon fan. Rest assured, Timberlake won the argument when he pulled out all the stops and all of the hidden aces up his jean-jacket sleeves, dropping the unmatchable, “I’M AN OWNER” card on that poor soul. Anyway, don’t question J.T.’s love for the Grizz.
Miami Heat: Jimmy Buffett
Wasting away in Margaritaville is the way Jimmy Buffett lives his life. The cool, down-to-earth rocker has a devoted bunch of fans called “Parrotheads.” But what is Buffett himself a fan of? The Miami Heat. In 2001, Buffett, who was sitting near the court at a Heat versus Knicks game, was tossed by the head referee for shouting obscenities and using foul language.
To remind you, 2001 was waaaaaaaaay before the Heat became relevant with Dwyane Wade or Shaquille O’Neal or their Big Three of the early 2010s. Aside from the ejection, Buffett has appeared at numerous Heat games, sitting courtside with his fellow Parrots.
Milwaukee Bucks: Aaron Rodgers
Mr. Discount Double Check is Wisconsin’s most famous adopted son. While Rodgers is quite the polarizing character, those loyal to the green and yellow absolutely adore the gunslinging quarterback, and the feeling is mutual. While Rodgers grew to love his new state, he also became a huge Bucks fan.
In 2017, Rodgers completed the purchase of a 1% stake in the Bucks, a franchise trending in the right direction and currently valued at over $1 billion. Although Rodgers hasn’t yet divulged how much his initial investment was, analysts have it in the range of $5.5 million, based on the fact that the team was sold for $550 million back in 2014.
Minnesota Timberwolves: Craig Kilborn
Another team that’s hard-pressed to find a true superfan, the Minnesota Timberwolves have been hovering around the line of mediocrity for most of their existence. They’ve had some good runs offset by some awful seasons. Yet they always return to their natural state of average, and that is exactly why their superfan is the average Craig Kilborn.
Look, we have nothing against Craig, but he definitely doesn’t stack up against the likes of Will Smith, Jack Nicholson, Aaron Rodgers, etc. You get the idea. In 2003, the lifelong T-Wolves fan even suited up with the team during summer practice, taking Kevin Garnett to “H” in a game of HORSE.
Toronto Raptors: Drake
This one is a no-brainer. Drake has been repping Toronto seemingly forever, with a more animated presence each passing year. The crazy part about it all is Drake believes he’s actually a Raptor. Sitting in his courtside seat, Drake will chat it up with the players and smack-talk the opposition. He’s taunted the refs and even forced the NBA to issue a decree telling him to simmer down.
After the Raptors won the 2019 NBA Finals, Drake did a personal photo shoot with the trophy and was riding with the players during the celebration. And yes, he even got his very own ring. While Drake doesn’t have any ownership in the team, he was dubbed the team’s “Global Ambassador” and helped design their “We The North” jerseys.
New Orleans Pelicans: Lil Wayne
Everybody and their mom knows Lil Wayne is from New Orleans. He’s a diehard New Orleans guy. From beignets at Cafe Du Monde to watching the Pelicans struggle, Lil Wayne is all things NOLA. He even has the number 17 tatted on his face, which represents the 17th ward of New Orleans, the area where he grew up.
Now, we know that Lil Wayne pledges his allegiance to many a team across the professional sports spectrum, but it’s the Pelicans that he’s (obviously) most connected with. Expect Wayne’s interest in the Pelicans to burgeon as the team, bolstered by the addition of Zion Williamson and Lonzo Ball, becomes more formidable.
New York Knicks: Spike Lee
Yep, this one was a no-brainer. Spike Lee is about the only thing the lowly Knicks have going for them. Lee is a ride-or-die kind of fan. The Knicks can lose every game and he’ll still be there, circular spectacles and all. He’ll still be there, courtside, when the Knicks somehow find a way to get worse than they already are.
Remember when Reggie Miller dropped eight points in 8.8 seconds against the Knicks in the playoffs? Remember who was trash-talking him as the Knicks imploded? Spike Lee. And that trash-talking gave birth to the now-infamous Reggie Miller choke directed at Spike.
Oklahoma City Thunder: Bill Hader
The Thunder are a relatively new franchise, so it does make sense that they don’t have the high-profile fans other teams do. Being in Oklahoma City doesn’t help their celebrity status much, either. That being said, comedian and former SNL regular Bill Hader has taken on the burden of being named the Thunder’s biggest fan. Hader, being an Oklahoma man himself, naturally fell in love with the Thunder, the state’s only major professional sports team.
“I will be your Jack Nicholson,” Hader said in a 2012 interview during the NBA Finals (which the Thunder lost). “I just need to figure out a way to get here from New York. If I can figure out a perfect flight that makes sense and I could do it on my off-weeks from SNL, I’m 100 percent into being Jack Nicholson.”
Orlando Magic: Tiger Woods
When discussing Tiger Woods’ move from Orlando, Florida, to Jupiter, Florida, The Orlando Sentinel had this to say: “He was a fan-favorite at Orlando Magic games.” Enough said. Tiger Woods became the biggest thing to hit Orlando since Disney World and was the city’s most famous resident since Mickey Mouse.
Outside of Disney World, Orlando is rather bereft of fun things to do. That’s where the Orlando Magic come in, giving Orlando’s residents some respite from the daily boredom. It was also reported that Woods was a season-ticket holder of the Magic for years. As far as we know, no one has filled the superfan void that was left when Woods moved to Jupiter.
Philadelphia 76ers: Will Smith
West Philadelphia born and raised, Will Smith may not live in Philly anymore (thanks Bel-Air), but he’s still a beloved icon and 76ers superfan. In 2011, Smith, who resides full-time in Los Angeles, purchased a minority stake in his hometown team. When the news became official that Smith was a minority owner, former guard Evan Turner took to Twitter to express his excitement.
“I think it’s dope that the Fresh Prince is one of our new owners,” he said. “Maybe Willow can perform at halftime.” In 2018, Smith released a hype video for the 76ers to kick off the season, one that didn’t end in a championship.
Phoenix Suns: Phil Mickelson
Phil Mickelson may be a California native and resident, but his heart still lies in the Valley of the Sun. Mickelson left California after high school on a golfing scholarship to Arizona State University. It was there that the future Hall of Famer would meet his wife, also a student at ASU who happened to be a Phoenix Suns dancer.
The two hit it off and married years later. Phil, who is both a huge basketball fan and unapologetically bad jumper, attends Phoenix Suns games whenever possible. Back in the early 2000s, Mickelson even suited up for the halftime show and jumped off the trampoline for a slam dunk. Then-owner Jerry Colangelo said Mickelson goes to games whenever he is in town.
Portland Trail Blazers: Elizabeth Banks
Elizabeth Banks is about as versatile and multifaceted as they come. She’s a highly acclaimed actress, producer, and writer. On top of that, she’s an Ivy League graduate, having attended the University of Pennsylvania, where she met her future husband, a Portland native and diehard Blazers fan.
Banks may not have been so keen on Portland growing up outside of Boston, but after she met her husband, she was converted. Today, she’s highly active on social media, voicing her support for the Blazers whenever possible. The Hunger Games star was a huge Allen Iverson fan and feels sorry for Greg Oden and his injury-riddled career.
Sacramento Kings: Kevin Johnson
Sacramento is California’s forgotten city. It gets virtually no love and attention. Its basketball team, the Kings, are hardly royalty. For a bit, things in Sacramento were looking good. The Kings were winning, were a championship contender, and had some rabid fans. But all of that changed, and they fell into the depths of despair.
Enter Mayor Kevin Johnson, a former NBA point guard for the Phoenix Suns. Johnson’s tenure as mayor was rocky, but he did do one great thing for the city: keep the Kings in it and secure a new stadium. Back in 2013, the Kings were on the verge of moving to Seattle when Johnson stepped in at the last minute to help preserve the city’s saving grace. Kings superfan status granted.
San Antonio Spurs: Samuel L. Jackson
Samuel L. Jackson is not from Texas, nor does he reside there. But he does love the Spurs. In fact, he loves them so much he chastised their dismal performance at the 91st Academy Awards. Yes, back in February of 2019, the Spurs somehow managed to lose to the Knicks on the night of the Oscars.
When Jackson got on stage, he wasted no time lamenting the loss, especially the lowly Knicks, championed by Spike Lee. Jackson has also narrated the Spurs’ video introduction in the past. After all of this, it is clear that one of Hollywood’s most intriguing figures bleeds black and silver.
Utah Jazz: Macklemore
Macklemore can’t root for his Seattle Supersonics, and he didn’t want to support the Oklahoma City Thunder. So what did the Seattle-based rapper do? Which team did he pledge his allegiances to? The Utah Jazz. There isn’t much info to be unearthed regarding Macklemore’s affinity for the Jazz; practically every other site that lists him as the Jazz’s biggest fan does so for one rather vanilla reason: He wore a Gordon Hayward Utah Jazz jersey in a Rolling Stone magazine interview.
However, considering there aren’t too many big-name celebs calling Salt Lake City home, Macklemore will have to suffice for now. As rumors begin to heat up surrounding the NBA’s return to Seattle in the near future, one can only expect Macklemore to jump ship when the time does come.
Washington Wizards: Wale
The Washington, D.C. rapper is a diehard Wizards fan to his unshakable core. Frequently sitting courtside and rapping about his city and team, Wale was an inspiration to the Wizards. In 2014, the team announced Wale as their “creative liaison,” which is basically a fancy, inflated title that means, “Wizards plan on using your music in videos and other promotional materials.”
In an NBA press release, Wale said, “I’m excited to start building as the creative liaison for the Washington Wizards. As a D.C. native and lifelong Wizards fan, this is truly an exciting and organic relationship for me. We’ve got some exciting projects up our sleeve that will roll out throughout the season so be on the lookout.”