The NBA Finals are in Cleveland tonight for Game 3. LeBron James and the Cavaliers are down 0-2 in the series. The series started last Thursday, in Oakland, when the side-game between Rihanna and Kevin Durant became the highlight of the night. That was the best, right? The side-eyes they kept giving each other? And it’s Rihanna at her best DGAF.
I don’t know if Rihanna will be there tonight. But I do know that everyone wants her to be. Everyone isn’t just people. It’s the game itself and definitely the league. As Justin Tinsley notes at The Undefeated, courstide has become the red carpet, Rihanna is the heir there to Spike Lee, and what makes courtside at basketball different from courtside (or ringside or rinkside) anywhere else is that the celebrity becomes part of the actual energy of the game.
But did you know that “courtside culture” has a history? With an unlikely pioneer? This might be my favourite part of Justin Tinsley’s piece – how he traces the origins of the celebrity courtside presence that’s become so familiar to us to… Doris Day!
Some sports “purists” (there are a lot of these humourless tightasses here in Canada) will insist that sport is sport, and that it doesn’t need the celebrity distraction, that there is no place for gossip in the game. As if athletes aren’t among the biggest gossips and the biggest gossip creators in the celebrity ecosystem. But the NBA continues to break records for fan attendance. Which might be why other leagues are looking to “courtside culture” for inspiration. The NHL has been sending out press releases after every game whenever celebrities are in the stands. This year, the celebrity singing of the national anthem at every Nashville Predators playoff home game has become a story unto its own, with fans wondering and predicting who it’ll be. Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban show up consistently on social media whenever they’re in the box cheering on their team. It’s not the intimacy of basketball “courtside culture” but they’re definitely trying to create their own “culture” of audience notables in hockey. But again, can you believe it all started with Doris Day? To read Justin Tinsley’s full article on the glamour of courtside, click here.
Yours in gossip,