If we were to create a power ranking of NBA teams based on how good they’re playing at the moment, Golden State — which, as of this writing, remains undefeated more than a month into the season — would easily rank No. 1. From there, it would probably go San Antonio, Cleveland and Oklahoma City, in some order. And rounding out the remainder of the Top 10 would be a hodge-podge of likely playoff contenders who are still trying to figure things out, but have long-shot aspirations of winning a title.
What we can say for sure, however, is that the Lakers would be nowhere near the top of the list. Young players like Julius Randle and D’Angelo Russell show the makings of an interesting future. But with only three wins in their first 18 games, that future still seems years away.
Ah, but what if we changed the rules, and made the power rankings based solely on a list of the team’s most popular celebrity fans? Surely, a ranking of the NBA’s most famous celebrities is much more important than some performance-based ranking that’s chosen practically arbitrarily, right?
That’s the spirit, and I’m glad you agree.
Whether it’s Jack Nicholson high-fiving Dyan Cannon after an off-balance 3-pointer from Kobe Bryant, or Spike Lee losing his mind over another Kristaps Porzingis dunk, the NBA is well-known for its A-list celebrities making courtside appearances to support their favorite team. Here is a ranking of the NBA teams with the best celebrity fans.
10. Memphis Grizzlies – Justin Timberlake; Jessica Biel
Timberlake and Biel have all the makings of an NBA power couple, and don’t you dare ever refer to them as bandwagoners. As part-time owners of the Grizzlies, they’re as diehard as they come. Unfortunately, there’s really no other celebrity fans to consider for Memphis, which is why they only come in ranked No. 10.
9. Miami Heat – Serena Williams; Rick Ross; Jimmy Buffett; Anna Kournikova; Gloria Estefan
When LeBron was leading the team to four-straight Eastern Conference titles, including back-to-back championships in 2012 and 2013, the list of Heat fans seemed to grow exponentially. But for the purposes of this list, we’re not counting the celebrities who dropped the Heat as quickly as LeBron could say “I’m taking my talents back to the cold, choppy waters of Huntington Beach.” Like, say, Justin Bieber. As far as we can tell, Williams, Ross, Buffett, Kournikova, and Estefan are the five celebs who will stick with the Heat through thick and thin, so they make up the list that comes in at No. 9.
8. Houston Rockets – Beyonce; Jim Parsons; ZZ Top
The Rockets’ list of celebrity fans is more a case of quality over quantity. An argument could be made that Beyonce should push the Rockets near the top of this ranking all by herself. But I’m not the person to make that argument, and this is my list. So, eighth place seems about right.
7. Dallas Mavericks – Jamie Foxx; Mark Cuban; Jessica Simpson; David Hasselhoff
Is it cheating to include Mark Cuban here? Perhaps. But not only is he the billionaire owner of the team, he’s also a wonderfully-gifted actor, and one of the main reasons we all watch Shark Tank. And so for those reasons, he’s not out.
6. Toronto Raptors – Justin Bieber; Drake; Samuel L. Jackson
Even though The Biebs seems to have a revolving fandom based on which team is in the NBA Finals that year, and whether he happens to be physically within the city limits of where they play at the exact moment they’re hosting a Finals game, he’s still technically a Raptors fan. That is, if you beliebe the internet. After you add him to Drake and Sam Jackson, the baddest motherf*cker on Earth, you begin to have the makings of a pretty decent celebrity fan list.
5. Boston Celtics – Matt Damon; Ben Affleck; Mark Wahlberg; Rhea Durham; Bill Simmons; Donnie Wahlberg; Denis Leary; Maria Menounos
Now we’re starting to get serious. That’s three bona fide A-list celebrities, as well as a handful of others who are nothing to sneeze at. Matt Damon and Ben Affleck are clearly the aces of this crowd, and have been rooting for the Celtics since childhood. In their lifetimes, they’ve seen the Celtics go to the NBA Finals nine times and win six of those. They’ve also made a few good movies here and there.
4. Los Angeles Clippers – Rihanna; Kate Upton; Kevin Hart; Charlie Sheen; Billy Crystal; Charlize Theron; Matt Kemp; Penny Marshall; Frankie Muniz
A decade ago, the people on this list didn’t have much to cheer about. But since the arrivals of Blake Griffin and Chris Paul, it’s no longer a joke to show your Clipper fandom in Hollywood. And with Rihanna and Kate Upton aboard instead of just Billy Crystal and Penny Marshall, there’s finally some celebrity sightings who millennials will recognize.
3. Chicago Bulls – Barack Obama; Bill Murray; Vince Vaughn; Jeremy Piven; Common; Billy Corgan; John Cusack; Eddie Vedder; (Previously Gene Siskel and Chris Farley)
How does a list that includes the leader of the free world, Bill Murray, and Vince Vaughn only rank third? It simply came down to quantity, or rather, lack thereof. The celebrity list of Bulls fans is second to none in terms of Q Score, but they simply do not stack up to the next two teams on this list when it comes to the sheer number of celebrities who root for them. But still, anytime your team has Murray show up to show his support, you know you’re doing well.
2. New York Knicks – Spike Lee; Chris Rock; Tom Hanks; Ben Stiller; Woody Allen; Whoopi Goldberg; Derek Jeter; Jason Sudeikis; Uma Thurman
The last two teams on our ranking could really be chosen by a coin flip. The number of Academy Awards, Golden Globes, Most Overrated Baseball Player Awards, and Emmys won by celebrity fans of the Knicks are almost too many to count at this point. But in the end, my coin landed on tails. Which means…
1. Los Angeles Lakers – Jack Nicholson; Leonardo DiCaprio; Will Ferrell; Denzel Washington; Mila Kunis; Eddie Murphy; Cameron Diaz; Ice Cube; Eliza Dushku; Dyan Cannon; Ellen Pompeo; Flea
I’m just kidding; I didn’t really flip a coin for this. In fact, it was pretty much a foregone conclusion that the Lakers would take the No. 1 spot. I included 12 celebrity names who are fans of the Lakers, but I easily could have gone 30 or 40 deep.
Of course, these are static rankings, and any new celebrity fan of the NBA can tilt a team in one direction or the other. And there’s certainly plenty of room on the Warriors’ bandwagon.
No, not you, Bieber. Sorry, but you’re stuck with the Raptors.