We’ve seen it far too often in the NBA. Corporate elites married to their BlackBerrys occupy the best seats in the house, relegating the beer-drinking, obnoxiously chanting fans to the inaudible back corners of the arena. At first it brought tears to my eyes, watching the heart of the NBA, the fans, being pushed away from the action. But now that it’s an undeniable facet of every NBA arena, we have to accept it.
In Game 4 of the Celtics-Knicks series, I had the honor of sitting in the third row thanks to a lucky, last-second invite. To this day, I’ve never heard the Garden louder than that afternoon. But those who sat near me nearly ruined the moment because there’s a certain fanhood etiquette that was ignored. After strolling in with my John Starks jersey, Knicks shorts and blue and orange shoes, I felt like Chris Bosh. Disrespected and uncomfortable. No one else besides my friends were wearing Knicks garb, let alone the orange Knicks shirt handed out for free to all fans at the gate. When Paul Pierce flopped to the ground, I offered to bring him a wheelchair. To which the guy in the suit sitting in front of me turned and said, “What does that mean?” When Anthony Carter, of all people, threw the Knicks’ rancid carcass over his shoulder and sliced the lead to four, someone else uttered, “Who the hell is this guy?”
Game 3 of the NBA Finals was no different. When Mike Miller dove into the stands to save a loose ball, he crushed an entourage of suit-wearing, uninterested observers. When J.J. Barea got knocked back into the first row, it spilled the drink of a fan onto the court, causing an extended delay. And in this moment, Jeff Van Gundy touched on these clear violations of courtside decorum, demanding that no fan so near to the court possess an open liquid container. So that got me thinking: What are some others dos and don’ts of the sought-after courtside seat? Here they are:
1. Heckle, heckle, heckle
We’ve all been there – fans screaming hilarious insults that ultimately fall on deaf ears because the court is too far away. As much as someone would like to ask Juwan Howard whether his goatee is older than J.J. Barea, it can’t be done unless the seating is appropriate. In the front row, you have that distinguished honor and opportunity. So don’t blow it. Don’t give me one of those run of the mill, “You suck, Player X.” Reference something dumb he did, said, etc. Whatever it is, just make it clever.
2. Engage the refs in a positive manner
Remember that the refs can negatively affect the outcome if they feel like it (see the Joey Crawford/Tim Duncan relationship for proof). Instead, partake in some playful banter. If they don’t respond, leave it alone. Don’t be the ***hole who pissed off the refs. If by the end of the game you have determined that they performed less than admirably, feel free to unleash your full arsenal of Tim Donaghy jokes after the final buzzer.
3. Don’t start chants
You’ll just look stupid. Leave it up to the drunk people behind you. Your surrounding brethren will not follow your lead, trust me. You’ll just be that raving idiot who won’t sit down and shut up. Not a good look.
4. Never take a bathroom break
Even if your bladder is about to explode. If you come back during play, you’ll enrage the crowd. And don’t forget about the trickle-down effect. If it’s not the front row, you’ll force everyone to stand up to let you through. People already hate you for having better seats, so don’t abuse the privilege.
5. Don’t carry an open drink
Bring a bottle top with you. Seriously. Or at least chug it when you get it. The point is, don’t interrupt the game for millions. Your soda (well, I would hope that it’s a beer) is not more important than an NBA game. Sorry.
What are your dos and don’ts of courtside seats?
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