Kenny Mayne doesn't advise NBA players nearly as often as superfan Jimmy Goldstein.
KM: You've been sitting courtside at NBA games for decades. Any idea how many you've attended?
JG: I made a rough estimate last year. It was in the 4,000 range, starting in the 1950s.
KM: Do you get jealous of all the attention Jack Nicholson gets when he goes to games?
JG: I don't care when they show him on camera, but it bothers me when people say, "Oh, you're as big a fan as Jack Nicholson." He goes to maybe 25 games a year. I go to about 115. He doesn't even go to Clippers games. We're not in the same ballpark.
Courtesy Jimmy Goldstein
KM: I've seen you described both as a millionaire and as a billionaire. Recession to blame?
JG: The Wall Street Journal, of all publications, described me as a billionaire—but I'm sorry to say I've never been one.
KM: Apology accepted.
KM: Over time, have you grown close to any players?
JG: Absolutely. I know probably 75% of the players in the NBA. I stand at the baseline during warmups, and they come over and shake hands.
KM: Who was harder to get to know, Wilt Chamberlain or Kareem?
JG: Kareem. I never did develop a friendship with him. Wilt and I became close friends, though. We hung out after games.
KM: Wilt famously counted his successes. Do you have your own mark?
JG: We often went out with girls together. But I believe in quality over quantity.
KM: Have coaches ever approached you during games to run strategies by you?
JG: Coaches don't often talk to me, but sometimes GMs will ask me about players. I got one of my biggest thrills during the Houston-San Antonio playoffs in 1995. I was close with Hakeem Olajuwon; after David Robinson outplayed him one night, I gave him my observations. The next game, he dominated. He gave me a big hug afterward. It doesn't get any better than that.
KM: Sitting as close as you do to the court, you're more or less in constant danger.
JG: Yeah. One of your Seattle players got me once. Nate McMillan dove out of bounds after a loose ball and landed on me. My seat collapsed, and I fell flat on my back. They showed it on ESPN every night for a month. It was a spectacular fall.
KM: Nate was known for that. His hustle, I mean.
KM: Do you mostly go alone, or do you bring guests?
JG: On the road I go solo, and my pace in the playoffs is too hectic to bring anyone else. At home I have two seats for the Clippers, three for the Lakers. I have a couple of regulars who are avid fans. But I also invite others from time to time.
KM: It must pain you to sit with someone you have to explain things to. Or do you like being the teacher?
JG: Sometimes I bring beautiful models, and often they're from Europe. In those cases, I don't mind explaining things. But if it's an important game, or anytime during the playoffs, I don't want to be distracted.
KM: You have to draw the line. Basketball matters too much.
JG: [laughs] Exactly.
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