'Real' basketball fans hit out at David Beckham

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

A backlash is brewing against David Beckham and his fellow band of famous Lakers fans, whose prime seats cost up to $20,000 each

He might look bored rigid, but don’t let appearances fool you: this picture shows Mr David Beckham and his eldest son, Brooklyn, living the Hollywood dream.

The occasion is Sunday night’s crucial play-off between the former England captain’s local basketball side, the Los Angeles Lakers, and their arch-rivals, the Boston Celtics. It’s half way through the fifth of a seven-match series that will decide who gets to call themselves NBA champions 2008 - and things are tenser than a tightly-cocked rubber band.

But enough about the game; let’s talk about the really interesting bit: its audience. In Hollywood right now, the only place for a self-respecting celebrity to be seen is courtside of the basketball arena at the Staples Centre in downtown LA.

Sunday’s game saw a veritable Oscar party's worth of celebrity fans. In addition to Becks, at recent games you've had, in no particular order: P.Diddy, Larry David, Will Smith and his wife Jada, Justin Timberlake, Matt Damon, Mark Wahlberg, Sly Stallone, and Robert Downey Jnr. Not to mention wee Floyd Mayweather fighting for elbow room with Denzel Washington.

Taking pride of place just behind the opposition bench was Laker fanatic Jack Nicholson, who attends almost all of their 60-odd games each year, and has even been granted his own “song” by the in house organist: a high-pitched version of Hit the Road, Jack. In the cheap seats behind him snappers spotted Tobey Maguire, Paula Abdul, Lionel Richie and his daughter Nicole, and Jennifer Garner.

If it sounds like overkill, that’s because it probably was. But oddly, in a town that usually worships at the altar of celebrity, a backlash is brewing against Beckham and his fellow band of famous Lakers fans, whose prime seats cost up to $20,000 each.

The Los Angeles Times ran a comment piece on Sunday complaining that the demand for tickets at the 20,000 seat arena has inflated prices to the point where real fans are unable to come. And while Beckham and co are perfectly happy to be seen courtside at the showpiece events, they are rather less eager to abandon their hard-fought dignity and actually cheer the Lakers on.

As a result, writer Bill Plaschke – a legendary name in local journalistic circles – complains that the atmosphere at the Staples centre for the paly-off matches has been a pale shadow of its normal self. In a Californian version of Roy Keane's famous "prawn sandwich" rant, he complains that the lack of passion on display in the stands has started to affect the team.

In recent games, the Celtics have mounted a series of unlikely comebacks to win games they had no right to. In one match on what was supposed to be their opposition’s home turf, they turned round a 24-point defecit, to win in the dying seconds. As a resut, at the time these pictures were taken on Sunday, Boston had taken a 3-1 lead in the series.

Plaschke blames the celebrity circus for at least part of the defeat, singling out Beckham (who has attended all three home games) for criticism. “Think about it,” reads his piece. “Has anyone actually seen David Beckham clap? Do many of these people even watch the game?”

Nodding in agreement is a noted Lakers nut called Michael Balzary, who is better known as the performer “Flea” of the Red Hot Chilli Peppers. “More people are coming for the big deal event, and fewer for the basketball,” Balzary tells Plaschke. “And I notice that when the Lakers get down, people have gotten real quiet… Everyone is staring at their shoes, real quiet. A 20,000 person funeral march of zombies.”

Looking at the picture of Mr Beckham and his son, you might be inclined to agree. But maybe, in his defence, our nation’s most successful export is attempting to teach his American hosts the virtues of good, old fashioned English restraint.

Either way, Beckham's understated performance appears not harm the Lakers on Sunday: they closed out the game in the dying stages to win 103-98, and come back to 2-3 in the series. The circus now moves to Boston, where the Celtics play the Lakers in the sixth game of the series later today. Due to his fotballing committments, Becks will be well advised to watch on telly.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Junior Web Designer - Client Liaison

£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...

Recruitment Genius: Service Delivery Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

Day In a Page

Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, DJ Taylor
How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

How to make your own Easter egg

Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

Cricket World Cup 2015

Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing