It’s rare for the NBA “superfan” to miss a home game in LA, and downright inconceivable for the multi-millionaire to be clad in anything less than head-to-toe designer labels like John Paul Gaultier or John Galliano whilst at the Staples Center.
Goldstein is an enigma. He loves haute couture and basketball equally and lives like a king in his home perched high atop the Hollywood Hills, the iconic Sheats-Goldstein residence. But who is James Goldstein, and where did his intense passions for fashion and sport come from?
“I started watching the NBA when I was ten years old,” the Michigan-born fashionisto explains. “At the age of 15, I had a job as the statistician for the radio announcer of the Milwaukee Hawks. From that point on, I was hooked, and my involvement has kept on growing and growing.”
Though he attends a staggering 95% of the Clippers and Lakers’ home games, he swears that he doesn’t have a true allegiance to either team: his real love is for the National Basketball Association itself.
“I consider myself an NBA fan as opposed to just rooting for the hometown team,” he says. “I’m a student of the NBA. I follow all 30 teams very closely and watch games that involve all the teams, not just the hometown Lakers.”
In fact, LA’s arguably most beloved team wouldn’t be his preference: Kobe Bryant aside, Goldstein surprisingly prefers the Clippers.
“I’m definitely in favor of the Clippers over the Lakers,” he maintains. “I don’t consider myself to be a Lakers fan. They’ve won too many championships and the Los Angeles fans are arrogant with expectations of winning every year; I don’t like that. I like balance. I like teams who haven’t won before. I don’t root for the Lakers.”
“I’m building a complex with a tennis court on the top level and my own nightclub, as well as a large terrace with huge dining facilities and an outside kitchen, bar and infinity pool.”
Being a superfan has its perks, of course, namely that Goldstein is widely recognized by some of the most prominent players in the NBA.
“It’s an added bonus for me when I go to the games that many of the players come over to say hello,” Goldstein reveals. “I’ve gotten to know a majority of the players in the NBA – particularly the ones in the Western Conference that I see more often. I’ve hung out with some of them as well, and knowing the players personally adds to my enjoyment of the game.”
But you won’t find Goldstein hanging out with his favorite athletes at any of Hollywood’s trendy nightspots: he isn’t a “fan” of anything trendy.
“I’ve really dropped out of the LA nightlife scene,” he admits before musing, “Though when I travel, I go out every single night. I just find that when I go to the LA nightclubs, it’s depressing. People aren’t dancing, I don’t particularly like the music, and the people that hang out in clubs are not the people that I enjoy hanging out with, so all in all it’s a waste of time. I’ve reached the point where I’ve stopped making the effort to find out what the new place is, because if I go there I get disappointed.”
Perhaps this is part of the reason that Goldstein is building his very own nightclub at home. But don’t expect his mansion to become the next Greystone Manor – the Sheats-Goldstein club is for his personal enjoyment only.
“I’m building a complex with a tennis court on the top level and my own nightclub, as well as a large terrace with huge dining facilities and an outside kitchen, bar and infinity pool,” he explains of his John Lautner-designed home, which has been featured in films such as Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle and The Big Lebowski. “It’s for my own personal use, but I might rent it out from time to time. I don’t plan on having it on a nightly basis, just for occasional parties. I don’t want it to be a regular hangout.”
As for the motivation behind having a hot spot of his own he explains, “I wanted the challenge of designing one, but my house as it stands now isn’t really set up for entertainment on a large scale, so this new facility will give me more flexibility than what I had before.”
Flexibility is important in Goldstein’s life given how often he travels, both for the NBA playoff games and for various fashionrelated events around the world. Goldstein rarely – if ever – misses the Paris and Milan shows.
Like basketball, his love of fashion started at a young age. “My father was involved in the retail fashion business and got me started when I was a young boy. I tried to be ahead of everyone in school when it came to dressing,” he recalls, adding, “In my early 20s I came to Europe and observed the fashionable people in Paris. I took it to a new level, to a point where I’ve become quite well known for the way I dress. I have an extensive background in fashion. I go to fashion weeks all over the world on a regular basis. That’s one of the prime occupations I have. When it’s not basketball season, I’m running off to various fashion weeks all over the world.”
His style is certainly unique, flamboyant and very, very recognizable if the custom-made silver python Versace jacket he currently sports is anything to go by. “I don’t have a label for my style,” he maintains. “I’m certainly the opposite end of the corporate dresser. Every new fashion season I look very carefully at everything that’s being made and try to come up with things that I’ve never done or seen before and keep current with whatever the latest style is. I don’t have a name for what I end up wearing.”
Given that Goldstein has such strong opinions about fashion, it isn’t surprising that he’s put thought into how he’d redesign the current NBA uniforms.
“First of all, the NBA has a strict rule that during the games, players have to have their jersey tucked in. That’s sort of an archaic rule because in tennis, for example, every player has his shirt untucked, which is a far more current look. I would do away with that rule.
“Secondly, my preference is to have the shirts shortsleeved instead of cut off at the shoulder. I don’t think players’ armpits need to be seen. I think all teams should periodically revise their uniforms just as a matter of interest the same way fashion always changes.”
Perhaps one day this superfan will be able to make said sartorial changes. He’s certainly wealthy enough to do so, revealing that he made his millions through “some property investments in California that keep me going without requiring much time on my part.”
One thing you won’t see: James Goldstein as a franchise owner. “Most of my life I had ambitions of owning a team, but I don’t like to have partners,” he says now. “I feel like I enjoy a unique position in the NBA. I have total accessibility to anything I want without any business pressures. I’m living the dream.”