James Goldstein Rumors
I am bothered by this trend. I enjoy seeing a made 3-pointer under intense defensive pressure. What I don’t enjoy so much is watching an unguarded man make a 3-pointer, especially from the short-distance corner. For me, it is only slightly less dull than a free throw and it is too easy. And in today’s game, a high percentage of 3-pointers are unguarded. What would happen if the 3-point line was made equidistant from the basket in its entirety, thereby eliminating the easy three pointer from the corner? I am not sure, but it would make for an interesting experiment.
Last season, the NBA tried to discourage flopping by fining players. As Commissioner David Stern acknowledged, it didn’t work. Therefore, I would propose another approach to stop the flop. The rule should be changed so any time that a defensive player falls flat on his back immediately upon contact from an offensive player, the officials will not call any foul.
It seems that I have heard every general manager of a non-playoff team utter the phrase this summer, “I intend to change the CULTURE of this franchise.” And I am not thrilled with the new trend of teams hiring GMs and coaches based upon their “analytics” background. I believe that the observation of a player during a game is far more important than to rely on his stats. Thus, I don’t like the word for not only its overuse in quotes but also for its application. Something is wrong when proven people like Lionel Hollins and Chris Wallace get replaced because they don’t rely on “analytics.”
But there are a few exceptions. Phil Jackson and I were good friends when he was coaching the Bulls. But our friendship cooled when he joined the Lakers. Kobe Bryant even instructed another Laker star, with whom I was quite friendly, not to talk to me. But every now and then, Kobe surprises me by offering a warm hello. Jerry Buss was always extremely nice to me. He used to joke about my anti-Lakers stance. Similarly, many fans rub it in good-naturedly when the Lakers win and I give it back to them when the Lakers lose. But a few fans don’t take my actions lightly, such as the night-club promoter who wouldn’t let me into his club because I was a “Laker hater.”
Many fans see me at all the Lakers games and assume I am a huge fan of the Lakers. Almost every day a stranger will approach me and say “Oh, you are the big Lakers fan.” And I respond, “No, I am an anti-Lakers fan.” In amazement they say, “Then why do you go to the games?” They don’t understand that someone can attend because of his love for the game. In recent years, though, more and more people have become aware that I root against the Lakers, the foremost being Laker players and coaches. Most of the players continue to be friendly to me before and after games (Metta World Peace always came over to me at halftime to say hello). They know that I like them on a personal level in spite of my actions during a game.
Jimmy Goldstein: As the years went by, my attachment to the Hawks waned, but my anti-Lakers sentiment became more firmly entrenched for a number of reasons. First, I usually pull for the underdog in any sports competition, and the Lakers were getting to The Finals or winning championships far too often for me. I like it when a different team becomes a title contender each year. Secondly, I didn’t like it that the Lakers were able to attract so many superstars away from other teams. I like level competition, and the Lakers upset league balance with players like Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Shaquille O’Neal, and many others leaving their teams to live in Los Angeles. (Wilt and I became good friends, and he once told me of his displeasure over my pulling for the opposition, but nothing changed.)
Well, now I’m thinking about one particular coach with more rings than fingers in his hands: Phil Jackson. James Goldstein: I’ve always resented a little bit the credit that he’s gotten for the same reason. He always had so much talent and he was never willing to accept a head coaching job unless the team had the talent to win a championship. So I don’t think he was ever really tested.
You wrote in GQ that Andrew Bynum was the only Laker player that didn’t talk to you. What do you think about his future? JG: Well, he acts in a very immature way with some of the things he’s done. I’m horrified the way he acted against the Mavs when he was ejected. I was shocked that he would go bowling on a bad knee and at the same time I think he’s a terrific talent. I’ve watched him shoot three-pointers in practice and make 90 percent of them for example. I can’t say anything about his medical condition but if he can rehabilitate his knees he’ll still be one of the top centers in the NBA. Whether that happens I have no idea.
Lil Wayne was a no-show for Thursday night’s game 2. But fallout from his negative comments continued to reverberate around the arena and the country. NBA super fan Jimmy Goldstein, who sat two seats away from the rapper Tuesday night, said he was shocked by Lil Wayne’s harsh judgment of the arena and city. “I couldn’t believe that,” Goldstein said shortly before the start of Thursday night’s Game 2. “I get such great treatment (here). Better than any other arena.”
Goldstein estimates he has been to “well over” 2,000 NBA games in his life. Del Harris knows Goldstein from a coaching career that included stints with the Bucks and the Lakers. “You just see him everywhere, always dressed in his eclectic style,” Harris said. “Without ever talking to him, you don’t take him seriously. And then when you talk to him and get to know him, you find out he’s a successful guy and a guy that just loves basketball.”
The only other Laker who doesn’t communicate with me or even give me a nod of recognition is Andrew Bynum, who I’ve never spoken one word to since he became a Laker seven years ago. All the other players are very nice to me. I have a terrific relationship with Ron Artest/Metta World Peace. He comes up to me at halftime of every game and has a little chat. During the NBA Finals in Boston, the Lakers had their own private dining room. He insisted that I go into the dining room with him, even though I told him that I didn’t think it was a good idea. So he couldn’t care less that I don’t root for the Lakers.
Pau and I were very good friends before he got traded to the Lakers. After he became a Laker, he’s standing at the baseline during the Lakers warm ups and he would never say hello. Finally, during the All Star Weekend a couple years ago, when I ran into him and he wasn’t putting on his ‘Laker face’ so to speak, he gave me a big hug and apologized for not being friendly to me at the games, but told me that it was because Kobe asked him not to be friendly to me.
I have friends on every team and every team thinks I’m there to root for them. I try to put on a neutral stance as much as possible when I go to the games, with the exception of the Lakers games. The Lakers players are all aware that I root for the other team. With the exception of Kobe, they seem to take it pretty well. Every now and then Kobe surprises me by walking up to me shaking hands and giving me a nice smile. But for the most part, he ignores me. He doesn’t look at me and even went to the extent of telling Pau Gasol not to say hello to me. He’s never explained why.
There’s been much written about Jimmy, but it’s still rare to hear from the man himself. So GQ asked him to check in with us periodically during this year’s playoffs and tell us about his experiences. This is his first dispatch. As told to Myles Brown: I fly coach. It’s bad enough that I spend a couple thousand dollars a night on playoff tickets by trying to get the best available, so I usually try to save on travel expenses as much as I can. Sometimes people come up to me and say, ‘Are you a rock star?’ or that kind of thing. More often people will come up to me and recognize me from the games and say ‘What game are you going to tonight?”
James Goldstein: Certain players I’m closer to than others. Tony Parker and I have been good friends. We run into each other in France and we always have a little chat before the games. He opened a nightclub in San Antonio now that he wants to take me to after the games, that kind of thing.