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(Barry Gossage/NBAE Photos)
NBA Super Fan Enjoying Semis
By Brad Faye, Suns.com
Posted: May 17, 2006
Whether you’ve been watching on television or live inside the US Airways Center itself, you've probably seen a distinguishing gentleman patrolling the Suns' courtside area. In fact, you may have seen him patrolling the courtside areas in a number of arenas during these 2006 NBA Playoffs.
His name is Jimmy Goldstein and be it because of his cowboy apparel, snakeskin jackets or his genuine smile, he’s an individual who stands out amongst a sellout crowd. Something the devoted fan has been doing for a number of seasons on the NBA scene.
“My first game was in the early 1950s,” Goldstein told Suns.com. “I believe it was 1951. My first Finals though was in 1957 in the Boston Garden.”
Although he lives in Los Angeles, Goldstein states he is not a Lakers fan, but a fan of the NBA in general. Because of his love for the game, he has criss crossed the NBA map over the years and seen hundreds of NBA players in the process. Perhaps none better than former Chicago Bull Michael Jordan.
“I don’t like comparing players usually because it’s hard to compare a player like Jordan to a dominating center like Wilt Chamberlain,” Goldstein said. “Still, Jordan has to be arguably the most talented individual I’ve had the opportunity to watch play this game.”
Goldstein is one of the few fans who can boast having seen both Chamberlain and Jordan play live – witnessing memorable games from each in the process. He was not only in attendance for the famous series-clinching shot from Jordan in Utah, but was also there the night Jerry West sunk arguably the most incredible shot in NBA Finals history. In Game 3 of the 1970 NBA Finals, West’s shot from beyond halfcourt forced overtime against the Knicks – a play which is still the recipient of numerous replays to this day. Being the three-point line had not yet been implemented in the NBA, the shot wasn’t a game winner but was certainly memorable nonetheless.
“Everybody was in shock when it happened, Wilt even walked off the court because he thought the game was over,” Goldstein remembered. “That shot certainly goes down as one of the all-time great moments in the NBA.”
Goldstein was first introduced to the lavish courtside life watching the Hawks, who then called Milwaukee home. At 15 he was hired by the Hawks to do statistics and had the opportunity to sit courtside when working. It didn’t take long before he became hooked.
The man who has been reported to a billionaire – reports which he denies – ultimately went on to make his money in real estate investing. Courtside seats soon becoming the norm for Goldstein in every city from Los Angeles to Miami. In attendance for a number of regular season games, he -- like NBA players -- likes to pick up his game come the postseason.
“I have been to 24 playoff games this season in 25 days,” Goldstein said just before Game 5 of the Suns-Clippers Western Conference Semifinals matchup. “And the only reason I missed a day, is because there were no NBA games scheduled.”
Goldstein spent his day off in his L.A. home, which was featured in the 2000 remake of Charlie's Angels."
As far as those on the court for the 2006 NBA Playoffs, everybody from players to coaches say they are certainly glad to have the super fan on board.
“He’s a great guy," Suns guard Steve Nash said. "He’s a loyal NBA enthusiast and we all love him.”
“He's the ultimate basketball fan,” added Suns assistant coach Alvin Gentry, who coached the Clippers back when Goldstein owned season tickets. “He’s just a guy who loves the game and loves watching it from the first row."
For more on Jimmy Goldstein, visit his official web site at http://jamesfgoldstein.com/basketball.html
BELL'S BIGGEST FAN PREDICTS BUZZER BEATER
The 2006 NBA Playoffs have been a roller coaster for Suns guard Raja Bell. Although a postseason veteran, not even the sharpshooter himself could’ve predicted a ride like this one heading in. A ride which featured a clutch three-point basket to force a second overtime in Game 5. But the emotions of the game, the shot and the entire playoffs, have been shared by his wife, Cindy.
“I actually called it right before he hit it,” Cindy told Suns.com. “(The Suns wives) were all sitting together and we were going crazy.”
Cindy says that while the playoffs as a whole have been filled with ups and downs, Tuesday night's win is the highlight so far.
“That was so exciting, it was just amazing,” she added. “You get a sick stomach, but I try and stay calm until the fourth quarter which is when I just can’t help myself.”
SUNS ALL TOO FAMILIAR WITH OVERTIME
Although the Suns didn't fair well in multiple-overtime games during the regular season, Tuesday's double-overtime win made all that forgettable. As far back as the season opener – a double-OT loss to Dallas at home – the Suns have been put through the endurance test in terms of playing extra periods. That experience perhaps finally paying off in Game 5 of the Western Conference Semifinals, where Phoenix emerged victorious over Los Angeles in their most thrilling overtime game yet.
Quite the statement for a team which – win or lose – has competed in some memorable overtime games these past few months. The triple-overtime losses in New York and Denver, the New Years Eve victory in Chicago and most recently the thrilling Game 6 against the Lakers in the first round all take a distant rank to this one, according to Suns players. “Mentally, we’ve been through so many battles and had to fight adversity so much for so long that I think it’s finally starting to pay off,” Suns forward James Jones said.
Leandro Barbosa, who was big in each of the two overtime sessions, also felt experience was a factor in the victory.
“We know how to play and have been in these situations a lot of times,” Barbosa said. “With this game we had a lot of energy from Raja’s shot and we won.”
“During the regular season we lost a lot of them,” Boris Diaw added, referring to the OT affairs. “We’ve learned though to never give up and always play until the last second of the game.”