Clipper Darrell and the 11 Biggest Super-Fans in the NBA
There's something unique about being in the stands at each different kind of sporting event. Each sport has a different feel to it while you're in the stands, and each has a different reason to drag you back to the game time and time again.
In baseball, there's very much an individual feel to the game, where one man and a booming voice can be on stage for few times every inning, should he decide to heckle.
Football is more of a contingent of loud people. There's no way anything you yell at a football game will end up making it down to the ears of anyone on the field, so the best thing to do is just sit there and scream along with everyone else.
Hockey and basketball are very much in the same boat, with a few key differences. Both are perfect when everyone is committed to turning a giant, single-room arena into a drum of noise with certain distinct situations in which a fan can separate himself.
In a hockey game, it's those guys right next to the penalty box (see the green Vancouver Canucks dudes), while a basketball game is best served with a fan somewhere in the lower bowl with some sort of agenda, whether it be the crowd-pumper-upper, the dedicated heckler, the quirky court-side guy or the stoic legend.
Those are the instances in basketball that turn people from fans into complete super-fans—the guys that everybody in the arena notices at some point or another, and that spend an absurd amount of their lives dedicated to a basketball team. For better or worse, they are the ultimate achievement in fandom and the envy of every basketball fanatic who would do anything to just watch their team play every chance they get.
11. Big Daddy
You can't very well have a list of the "biggest" NBA fans without including James "Big Daddy" Brister, a large fellow who frequents Philadelphia 76ers home games.
Big Daddy is a bit of a newbie on the super-fan scene as far as national recognition goes, as he's become a YouTube sensation over the past year for his dancing and revealing feats of distraction with his hypnotically large stomach.
If that's what it takes to become noticed as a super-fan, it's going to be a bit hard for the lot of us to have any chance, but as long as there are guys like Big Daddy out there, there are going to be hilarious moments while players are shooting free throws with him dancing in the background.
10. Aztec Gino
For the life of me, I can't think of two cultures further away from each other than the New England Bostonians and the Aztecs, but somehow and for some reason that's just what crossed to create Aztec Gino.
He's been on the scene in Boston for just over four years now, but he's been what seems to be a professional crowd-pumper-upper for well over a decade. According to his website (of course he has a website—he's Aztec Gino!), Gino has been a part of carnivals all over the world and went to the World Cup in 2006 in his Aztec garb.
There might be other Bostonians that have been going to games longer or who suffered through the '90s in the old Boston Garden, but few do more to make themselves noticed than Aztec Gino.
9. Nathan and Peggy Pillow
It's not always the flamboyant, the absurd and the overly extroverted people who get recognized as super-fans in today's NBA. Sometimes all it takes is unmitigated dedication, and that's just what Nathan and Peggy Pillow have.
They look like the type of people to settle in on a nice quite evening out in Phoenix, read the newspaper in the den, have a glass of iced tea and call it a night before a basketball game would be two-thirds of the way over.
The Pillows, however, have been Suns season-ticket holders since 1987, missing games for nothing less serious than a wedding or a funeral.
Nathan has talked about his love for the Suns and shown it in the form of an orange 1968 Volkswagen and three sets of season tickets: one set behind the bench, one set by the tunnel and one set up in the nosebleeds, a place every pampered lower-bowler should visit every now and then to remember their roots.
8. Don Knobler
As an upstanding member of a community, it only makes sense that a guy should become a super-fan of his local basketball team in order to both satiate the kid inside and help any kind of business ventures. That's the path that guys like Don Knobler have taken with their sports fandom.
It's not like he's going to games to sell more houses, but it can't hurt that Knobler, a real estate mogul in the area, is constantly seen looking like the biggest Mavs fan in the nation at every home game.
Knobler has always struck me as a cross between Willie Nelson and Hollywood Hulk Hogan, with the long braids and the fierce facial hair to intimidate anyone that might come in his path, including some unruly basketball players that might venture toward his court-side seats.
7. Derrick Seys, the Brick Man
Chances are if you've watched a handful of Oklahoma City Thunder games over the past few years, you've seen Derrick Seys, better known as the crazy dude with the brick on his head.
Seys, once a resident of Oklahoma and a mainstay at Thunder home games, ended up moving away from the team he loves a few years back, but that didn't stop him from coming to Thunder games in a mask that seems like he would be able to see a third of the court out of.
He spent the 2011 playoffs driving on end, putting more than 5,000 miles on his car in order to attend five Thunder home games, putting a toll on his engine and his body, as the dude lives in Illinois now. And some people complain about their hour-long commute to work.
6. Jimmy Goldstein
I've got absolutely no idea what to think about James Goldstein. On the one hand, he attends enough basketball games that his status as a fan of the game should never be questioned. On the other hand, he shows up to nearly every game with a model or two or three in tow, making it seem as if he's using basketball as a status checkpoint.
Hell, in the end it's not my business what the dude does with his money, and how many of us wouldn't do some variation of what he does if we were in his position?
As a Lakers and Clippers season-ticket holder, it's pretty obvious that Goldstein's affiliations are more with the game itself rather than a certain team. Plus, Goldstein can be seen at arenas all over the country, popping up here and there whenever he wants a change of scenery for a day or two.
I guess if you're going to be a crazy-looking billionaire playboy, you might as well take in an absurd amount of basketball from court-side while you're doing it.
5. Nav Bhatia
For the sake of the Toronto Raptors and Nav Bhatia, somebody get this city a winning basketball team.
Every once in a while you'll get a camera flash of Bhatia in the stands at games in his trademark turban, long-sleeved shirt and one of his many Raptors jerseys. It's only a matter of time before he becomes Canada's Jack Nicholson, once Toronto makes the playoffs and he gets some more screen time.
Bhatia is a basketball fan, a car dealership owner and a purveyor of all things Indian. Not only does he attend every game possible (he's up to over 500), he also buys thousands of seats a year and gives them to local Indian children to go take in a game court-side.
4. Robin Ficker
There are few people who have ever done what Robin Ficker has done with his life. I'm not talking about becoming an accomplished attorney in Maryland, nor am I talking about the number of basketball games he's attended in his life.
No, what Ficker has done is much more impressive than any of that. He has become so recognized as a magnificent heckler that his Wikipedia page lists him as an "American attorney, real estate broker, political activist and sports heckler." You know you're doing something when it becomes part of your official biography.
Ficker has everything a professional heckler needs to have in his wheelhouse. His slightly raspy, completely recognizable booming voice travels like a whale call through the ocean, reaching more ears than you can imagine. Besides that, he doesn't care about the glances and stares from the so-called "normal" sports fans.
He stopped attending games in 1997, so why should he continue to be on this list? Well, the reason every man who has done what he's done lives on—they changed the rules because of him.
Ficker was so loud, so jarring and so downright good at what he does that the NBA declared a fan cannot interfere with the communication between a coach and the players during a timeout. They took away his voice when all he wanted to do was scream. Shame on you, NBA.
3. Clipper Darrell
It's easy to be a diehard fan of a team that makes the playoffs often, wins a few championships here and there and is just fun to watch in general. Hell, it's easy to watch every game of a team with more downs than ups, but being a Clippers super-fan? How can one survive such punishment?
Clipper Darrell, or Darrell Bailey as he's known in real life, has been a season-ticket holder since the 2000-01 season, but he's been going to games for far longer than that.
Thankfully for Bailey, he's got a job that helps out his cause as a crazed Clipper fan, as his car-customizing service helped him turn his 1995 BMW 740i into a rolling Clippers monstrosity.
There's been negative press around Clipper Darrell in the past year, as the Clippers told him to stop being Clipper Darrell for a short time amid accusations that he was just in it for his own personal gain. Sure, he was making a buck off the Clipper name, but I'd want a kickback too if I was going to Clippers games for the past decade.
2. Spike Lee
In the end, we all knew it was going to come down to this, didn't we? It's Bad Boy vs. Death Row all over again. It's Biggie-Tupac reincarnated, only it was going on in a much milder fashion at the same time as the Biggie-Tupac feud.
In the end, it was always going to be Spike Lee versus Jack Nicholson, and you just can't mess with Jack.
On the most basic level, Spike Lee has to be one of the best super-fans out there, just based on the sheer volume of games he attends, the number of different jerseys he shows up in, the attitude he takes toward the games, everything. Lee is exactly what you want in the spokesman for one of the two most recognizable basketball teams in the world.
Aside from actually attending games, Lee has been involved in quite a few. How many other people have had a documentary made in part detailing their fandom and the effect it's had on actual games? Reggie Miller may have won the battle, but Spike endured.
1. Jack Nicholson
Jack Nicholson could do anything with his winters. Literally anything. He could sail around the world in a yacht, sipping on a beverage while being fanned by beautiful women waving giant leaves while feeding him grapes if he wanted to. It's totally not out of the realm of possibility.
However, year in and year out he's back in his seat, waiting for the game to start. Be it his birthday, a holiday, whatever, Jack is there, and he's been there longer than most of the players in the NBA have been alive.
Sure, he doesn't deck himself out in a jersey for every game like Spike Lee, but he's not the stereotypical Los Angeles sports fan either. He shows up on time, he stays the entire game, he's involved in the game, he reacts to things that are happening. In short, he gives a damn.
Jack doesn't go to games because he wants to be seen at games, or because he wants to impress some woman. He comes to games because that's what he wants to do.
It's the decades of service to his team and the unwavering dedication that put him above all the rest and always will.
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