James F. Goldstein is a millionaire "NBA superfan" who attends over one hundred NBA games each season typically in courtside seats, including approximately 95 percent of home games for the Los Angeles Lakers and the Los Angeles Clippers.
He also travels from city to city to catch games, especially during the NBA Playoffs (and not necessarily Lakers and Clippers playoff games). He also frequently attends post-game press conferences. His unique and flamboyant clothing makes him fairly easy to spot on television. His passion for the NBA has been featured in USA Today, the Detroit Free Press, the Wall Street Journal, the Boston Globe, Slam Magazine (Issue 138), and ESPN the Magazine.
"He has so much invested in our sport," Former NBA commissioner David Stern said. "He probably has the largest investment of any fan in America, so we get a kick out of him. He has got quite a flair, and we love him as a sort of a superfan."
The son of a Milwaukee department store owner, Goldstein said he began watching NBA games as a 10-year-old. At the age of 15 he was hired to keep game statistics by the Milwaukee Hawks. "Once I did that and sat courtside for the games, I was totally hooked", he said. "My entire life has been devoted to professional basketball since then. I have such a passion for the game. I think there's more athleticism displayed in basketball than in any other sport." Goldstein graduated from Nicolet High School in Milwaukee, Wisconsin where he played on the basketball team. He then attended Stanford University and has remained in California ever since.
Having attended over 2,000 games, Goldstein befriended several current and former NBA players, including Wilt Chamberlain, Clyde Drexler, Hakeem Olajuwon, Shaquille O'Neal, Sam Cassell, and Dennis Rodman.
Unlike some other "super fans" however, Goldstein is content to simply observe the games and enjoy them, without yelling at referees or taunting players. He claims to have no favorite team, in spite of his Lakers and Clippers season tickets. He describes himself as a fan of the NBA in general.
Goldstein refuses to disclose how he made his fortune or his net worth, although the Wall Street Journal speculated that Goldstein made billions in real estate (notably Century City in Los Angeles). When asked, he typically responds, "Let’s just say I had some investments that worked out pretty well." "I try not to think about the cost," he said. "It's worth it to me."
Goldstein's house, known as Sheats Goldstein Residence, has been featured in the Robb Report, Town & Country, Architectural Digest, and the New York Times Magazine. The house was designed in 1963 by John Lautner, a student of Frank Lloyd Wright. Goldstein purchased the property in the 1970s from previous owners who did not keep the house in good condition. Goldstein commissioned Lautner to make changes and improvements to the house. Below the main residence is an installation by light artist James Turrell known as "Skyspace" or "Sky Box".
Goldstein worked closely with Lautner and Duncan Nicholson, who took over after Lautner's death in 1994. Nicholson is now chief architect. "I wanted to remake the house exactly as John [Lautner] would have wanted it, and to introduce technology that didn't exist 30 years ago", Goldstein explained. The property next door to his also had a Lautner designed house on it, which Goldstein bought and tore down to build a party house, tennis court and office. He continues to make improvements. In 2016, Goldstein promised that the house eventually will become the property of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
- Chris Warren, Superfan, American Way Magazine, February 15, 2009
- Bob Young, Hat's Off to NBA's No. 1 Fan, Boston Globe, May 7, 2005.
- Bob Sansevere, Wolves have at least 1 L.A. fan, St. Paul Pioneer-Press, May 24, 2004.
- Matthew Gurewitsch, On the Path to Illumination, Wall Street Journal, December 29, 2004.
- Duncan Nicholson
- Moderism Reborn
- Goldstein house