Every professional sports league has celebrity fans, but there’s something about the NBA that makes that idea even more glamorous. Maybe it’s the fact that the best seats are literally feet away from the action, making the A-listers who sometimes take them visible for the entire game.
Some famous NBA fans are as recognizable as great players when you think of certain franchises because they’ve been there for decades, sitting courtside and yelling at the referees. Every team has its notable fans and here are our picks for the most famous ones.
Atlanta Hawks — Migos
The Atlanta Hawks have fully embraced their place as a team nestled in the heart of one of hip-hop’s capital cities. In 2020, Forbes wrote that the Hawks have the best partnerships with their celebrity fans of any franchise in the NBA. Rap icons like Future, 2 Chainz, Big Boi and T.I. have been spotted at Hawks games over the years, with some even performing before games and at halftime. But it’s the Grammy-nominated trio Migos that bring the most clout when they sit courtside at Hawks games — which is often.
Boston Celtics — Matt Damon
If you know anything about Matt Damon, you know he’s a Boston guy through and through. The Cambridge, Massachusetts native has been a lifelong Celtics fan and has seen the team win six championships since he was born in 1970, giving him more fond memories than many famous fans on this list.
One of Damon’s best moments as a Celtics fan came in 2008, when he predicted that the team would win another NBA title over the Los Angeles Lakers while he was accepting an award in L.A.! It earned him plenty of “boos” in the room but his prediction was right on.
Brooklyn Nets — Jay-Z
Not many fans can say they helped move an entire franchise to their neighborhood but Jay-Z did just that when he owned part of the Nets. The team, which formerly played in New Jersey, moved to Brooklyn in 2012 with plenty of help from their most famous supporter. A year later, the rap legend sold his stake in the franchise, saying, “My job as an owner is over but as a fan it has just begun.”
Charlotte Hornets — J. Cole
When the NBA All-Star Game was held in Charlotte in 2019, J. Cole was the obvious choice to perform at halftime. That’s where the picture here was taken, as he took the spotlight wearing a ’90s-inspired Hornets jacket that any fan would love to have. The North Carolina native has been repping his beloved Hornets for years, even visiting the team at training camp and being given his own custom jersey by the franchise.
Chicago Bulls — Barack Obama
Barack Obama is known for his love of sports in general but basketball seems to be the game closest to his heart. When he was president, Obama even found time in his busy schedule to get courtside seats for a 2015 Bulls home game. The former Chicago resident has long been one of the nation’s most visible basketball fans, making the practice of filling out an NCAA tournament bracket one of his signature events every year and regularly shooting hoops at the White House court. An entire book was written about Obama’s love of the game and how it influenced his political career.
Cleveland Cavaliers — Usher
When the Cavaliers won a 2010 playoff series over the Celtics, Usher was sitting at courtside, celebrating right alongside LeBron James, as you can see in the photo below. When it comes to proving one’s fandom, money is one of the best ways to do it and that’s why Usher, a Dallas native, was rooting so hard for the Cavs. As of 2016, the singer had given at least $9 million of his own money to the Cleveland franchise, according to Forbes, amounting in a minor ownership stake in the team.
Dallas Mavericks — Mark Cuban
Like the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys, there is perhaps no more famous representative of the Mavericks than their owner. Mark Cuban is as passionate a fan of his team as he is about making innovative decisions as their owner. He’s one of the few NBA bosses you’ll see sitting courtside, wearing team gear and yelling right along with the other fans. While Cuban wasn’t really a celebrity before he bought the Mavs in 2000, he’s certainly become one since, including for his many appearances on ABC’s “Shark Tank.”
Denver Nuggets — John Elway
NFL icon John Elway is pretty much Mr. Denver and you’re likely to see him at a Nuggets game if you go to enough of them. The Denver Broncos executive has been regularly seen around the court at his city’s NBA games, including the time below, when he introduced the Nuggets before a 2009 playoff match. We thought about giving the crown for biggest celebrity Nuggets fan to “South Park” creator Trey Parker but then we saw him wearing Clippers gear and rescinded the honor.
Detroit Pistons — Eminem
If you need someone to pump up your fans before a game, it’d be tough to find someone better for the job than Eminem. The Detroit icon did just that before a Pistons home game in 2017, grabbing the mic at Little Caesars Arena. The rapper has been spotted at Pistons games and wearing team gear many times over the years and was spotted in the crowd during the 2004 NBA Finals, when the team won its most recent championship. It’s tough to get more Detroit than Eminem, which is why we also listed him as the most famous Lions supporter in our list of notable NFL fans.
Golden State Warriors — Jessica Alba
For a team that plays ball in a beautiful part of the country and has been the league’s most dominant force for years, the Warriors deserve more diehard celebrity fans. As it stands, Ayesha Curry and Blake Anderson are among the team’s biggest backers but they can’t touch Jessica Alba in terms of pure name recognition. Her Warriors fandom came by way of her marriage to Cash Warren, who loves the team, and she’s been spotted at many games over the years, even back in the franchise’s meager days.
Some detractors may point to a photo of her wearing a Clippers hat as evidence against her — she is from Southern California — but there are far more examples of Alba repping the Warriors in public, so we’re giving her the benefit of the doubt.
Indiana Pacers — Mike Epps
Comedian Mike Epps is from Indianapolis and has been known to rep the Pacers. He described his fandom of the team as “die-hard” to ESPN’s The Undefeated and said he’s been watching them since the 1970s, when he was a kid. In 2014, Epps caught some heat for lying about being at a Pacers playoff game by tweeting a dated photo. But his intentions were good and he was just showing some love for his squad, which isn’t something many other celebs are doing for the Pacers!
Houston Rockets — Travis Scott
Rapper Travis Scott is proud of his roots in Houston and that ties right into his fandom of the Rockets. He’s a regular presence at Rockets games, often sitting courtside, which actually gives him similar views to the ones he got when he worked as a ball boy for the franchise while in high school. He’s pretty close with Rockets star James Harden and even featured the player in the music video for his song, “Way Back.” In 2019, Scott collaborated with Mitchell & Ness Nostalgia Co. to design a custom Rockets jersey that was inspired by his album, “Astroworld.”
Los Angeles Clippers — Billy Crystal
Few celebrities are as easily identified with their favorite NBA franchise as Billy Crystal is with the Clippers. He’s been a season ticket holder for decades, tracing his fandom back to the team’s early days in Los Angeles, in the mid-1980s. He has said his love for the team started because of the underdog mentality that came with rooting for the Clippers in what was a town dominated by Lakers fans. He’s still waiting on that first championship — or even a conference title — but he’s literally been there with them through it all.
Los Angeles Lakers — Jack Nicholson
There is no more iconic celebrity fan in the NBA — or maybe in all of professional sports — than Jack Nicholson. His courtside presence during Lakers games goes back to the 1970s, meaning he’s seen a lot of championships and great moments. The Oscar-winning actor is such a staple at Staples Center that when Shaquille O’Neal had his jersey retired by the Lakers in 2013, he even gave a special shout-out to Nicholson during his speech and kissed him on the head after it was over. That’s the kind of moment even the most loyal fans could only dream about.
Memphis Grizzlies — Justin Timberlake
Some people on Twitter have slammed Justin Timberlake as a “bandwagon” supporter of the Grizzlies but he has been quick to shut that down. After all, it’s tough to call someone a fickle fan when they have put up their own dollars as a minority owner in the franchise! Timberlake was born in Memphis and has been spotted plenty of times in the suites and courtside at Grizzlies games, as well as on the practice court taking half-court jumpers. Plus, the Grizzlies don’t exactly have a bunch of A-listers lining up to wave their flag, so Timberlake is as good as it gets.
Miami Heat — DJ Khaled
Hip-hop luminary DJ Khaled may have been born in New Orleans but he’s called Miami home for years and is a regular at Heat games. You can see him wearing Heat gear all over the place, even when he’s not anywhere near the arena. Described by Rolling Stone as a die-hard fan of the franchise, he’s even said he’d love to buy a stake in the team, no matter how small. “I bleed Miami,” Khaled told TMZ. “It’s Miami Heat for life.”
Milwaukee Bucks — Aaron Rodgers
It’s pretty sad that the Bucks — one of the best teams in the NBA right now — don’t have any major hometown-born celebrity fans but Aaron Rodgers has given them his full support since moving to Wisconsin in 2005. The Green Bay Packers quarterback has been spotted courtside at plenty of Bucks games and rocking team gear, including in 2018 when he brought girlfriend Danica Patrick to a game. Since Rodgers was born in Northern California, he could take the easy way out and rep the Warriors but rooting on the Bucks makes him a hero of adopted-city fandom.
Minnesota Timberwolves — Jesse Ventura
Not only was Jesse “The Body” Ventura the governor of Minnesota but he was born and raised in that state. He’s been the most visible fan of Minnesota’s NBA franchise, being seen courtside at plenty of games and wearing team gear. Of course, the pro wrestling icon is getting up there in age now, so it’s about time for a new generation of famous Minnesotans to take up the mantle and root on the Timberwolves. Jessica Biel and Laura Osnes, we’re looking at you.
New Orleans Pelicans — Wendell Pierce
Best known for his performance as “Bunk” Moreland on HBO’s “The Wire,” actor Wendell Pierce is a proud New Orleans native. He’s been known to rep the city’s NBA franchises, whether it was the Hornets or now the Pelicans. In 2010, the franchise tapped him to open its home season by performing alongside the Rebirth Brass Band. Pierce co-owns a radio station in New Orleans and recently signed on to air Pelicans games on his airwaves, which is a pretty strong gesture of support.
New York Knicks — Spike Lee
On the other coast from where Jack Nicholson roots on his Lakers, Spike Lee holds court as New York’s most famous basketball fan. The word “rabid” doesn’t even begin to describe the filmmaker’s fandom of the Knicks. Unlike some celebrity fans, Lee is always decked out in full team gear, no matter how garish the outfit might be at times, and he’s constantly yelling at referees and opposing players.
Lee’s notoriety as a Knicks lover reached its apex in 1995, when his taunts of Indiana Pacers star Reggie Miller backfired, giving the player plenty of motivation in pulling off an epic comeback win over New York in the playoffs.
Oklahoma City Thunder — Bill Hader
Actor Bill Hader has gone on the record critiquing aspects of the Thunder’s play during key games, which is the type of obnoxious behavior that any loyal fan must take part in. Hader has said that when he was growing up in Oklahoma, he had to root for other states’ professional sports teams because his state didn’t have any. So, he was obviously thrilled when the Thunder came to Oklahoma City in 2008 and has been supporting them ever since. The former “Saturday Night Live” star has joked that he’d like to be the Thunder’s version of Jack Nicholson.
Orlando Magic — Tiger Woods
When Tiger Woods lived in Orlando, he was a regular at Magic games and fans reportedly always loved to see him on the video board. Woods even had season tickets to the team’s games when he was living there, further proving his fandom. However, Woods grew up in California and has admitted to being a “die-hard Los Angeles Lakers fan” … but it seemed like he was pulling for his local Magic when the two franchises met in the 2009 NBA Finals.
Philadelphia 76ers — Kevin Hart
Comedian Kevin Hart’s antics while sitting courtside at 76ers games are so notorious that some of the team’s other fans have suggested he be banned. That notion comes from the fact that several opposing players have cited Hart and his constant trash-talking as motivation for lighting up Philadelphia’s boys during important games. In 2018, Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade went off for 28 points in a playoff win against the 76ers and after it was over, he thanked Hart for firing him up. Ouch.
Phoenix Suns — Jordin Sparks
Before she won “American Idol” as a teenager, Jordin Sparks was growing up watching the glory days of the Charles Barkley-led Suns. In 2016, she was invited to sing the national anthem before the team’s season opener and even stopped by the Suns pre-game TV show to talk about the team before she took to the court. While there, the Phoenix native spoke about her love for the Suns, reminding other fans, “You always have to support them,” even through the weak years, of which there have been a few for that franchise.
Portland Trail Blazers — Carrie Brownstein
We don’t know if Carrie Brownstein would describe herself as the world’s biggest basketball fan but she has represented as a fan of the Blazers and she might be the coolest celeb on this list. The musician and comedian once told The New York Times that a Blazers hat is one of the things she always packs when she travels. Brownstein grew up in Portland and even found a way to incorporate the team on her beloved sketch-comedy show, “Portlandia,” including star player Damian Lillard. She’s reportedly been spotted at plenty of games since that episode was shot in 2014.
Sacramento Kings — Brie Larson
The Kings have virtually no A-listers who are regulars at their games, but Sacramento native Brie Larson has publicly supported the franchise on social media, which is good enough for us. In 2016, the team gave her a shout-out on Twitter for winning a Golden Globe, which inspired the actor to have a moment of fandom-induced bliss. “The child in me cannot handle this,” Larson replied to the team’s message. “Go Kings!”
San Antonio Spurs — Selena Gomez
This Texas native has been spotted wearing black jerseys at many games over the years. However, she took some flak in 2018 for appearing to be out of the loop on the franchise’s current roster. Still, Gomez gave props to Spurs legends Tim Duncan and David Robinson as her favorite players. In 2012, she took then-boyfriend Justin Bieber to a Spurs game in Los Angeles and you can tell from the picture below who was more into the game.
Toronto Raptors — Drake
As far as tight fan-team relationships go, Drake’s link with the Toronto Raptors is right up there. The Canadian rapper has been supporting the team for years, even getting hired by the franchise in 2013 as its global ambassador. The partnership has apparently worked, as the Raptors have signed some huge stars, raised their profile and finally won their first championship in 2019, while Drake was courtside. That same year, the Raptors renamed their practice facility the OVO Athletic Centre in honor of the record label Drake runs.
Utah Jazz — Mitt Romney
When Mitt Romney was governor of Massachusetts, he was pictured repping the Celtics when he made it to an NBA game, but these days he’s one of the most recognizable fans of the Jazz. Romney’s most visible fan moment came during the 2018 playoffs, when he was filmed taunting Thunder star Russell Westbrook. His behavior wasn’t what you’d necessarily expect from a serious politician but it’s exactly what you’d expect from a basketball fan. Maybe it helped him get a few more votes in Utah when he was elected to the U.S. senate later that year.
Is he watching a Jazz game on TV with his grandkids in the photo below? We’ll leave that for you to decide.
Washington Wizards — Wale
Washington native Wale has had to endure the endless ups and downs the Wizards franchise has gone through — and he’s remained a fan through them all. The rapper’s fandom has been so recognized by the franchise that he was actually hired as a creative ambassador for the Wizards in 2014. As part of the gig, he did charity work for the team, allowed his music to be used in their intro videos, collaborated on merchandise designs and even performed at some games. Some fans have gotten rich enough to buy their way into their favorite team but Wale’s love for his squad landed him on the payroll!