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NBA 'super fan' James Goldstein on fashion, architecture and basketball

by Patt Morrison | Off-Ramp®

James Goldstein bought the John Lautner designed home in 1972 when the residence was in some state of disrepair. He commissioned Lautner to renovate and contue designing the home. Mae Ryan/KPCC

His business card is twice the size of an ordinary business card, but that's in keeping with James Goldstein's outsized life.

To the NBA, he's the courtside super fan who's traveled to thousands of games. To fashionistas, he's an over-the-top fop, a style symbol. To lovers of LA architecture, he's the guardian of the renowned Sheats-Goldstein house, built in 1963 by architect John Lautner and used in music videos and movies--most memorably in Joel and Ethan Coen's The Big Lebowski. 

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Goldstein has owned that house for 40 years, the same four decades that he's owned the classic cream-colored Rolls-Royce parked outside. The Rolls-Royce is all curves and bends; the house is all angles and edges.  

"Men today don't know how to dress. They all want to be conformists, they're afraid to do anything different," said Goldstein. "The clothes that are offered are pretty disappointing in my opinion. I feel that women have all of the advantages when it comes to clothes. Frequently, I'll see something from the women's collection and ask the designer to make a version of it for me."

James Goldstein recently sat down with Patt to talk about his passion for architecture, basketball and fashion.

Interview Highlights


You may be one of the rare men in the world that spends more money on clothes than women do
"I spend a ridiculous amount of money on clothes. I don't like to keep track of what I spend."

Have you always worn hats?
"Over the last ten years or so, I've been wearing wide brim hats that I've designed myself. I like myself better when I'm wearing a hat, and everyone else seems to like it as well."

In America it seems to be baseball that is glorified as having some mystical properties. What is it about basketball that engages you?
"I think America used to be about baseball. Basketball, to me, is the ultimate in athleticism. And I enjoy watching what I consider the best athletes in the world, competing and improvising and coming up with their own individual moves on the court just the way a designer would come up with something original."

You try to go to every game, even the out of town games. Why?
"The playoffs are the highlight of my year. The intensity of basketball that takes place during the playoffs is so exciting for me, and it's much more exciting in person. I've become so well known in the other NBA cities, all of it adds up to a very exciting time for me."

In all of these years of having season tickets I can't imagine you started courtside. How did you move from where ever your first seats were down to courtside?

"From the very beginning I was sitting courtside, the only difference was that in the early 60's when I started out doing this the courtside seats cost $15. And now a courtside seat to a Laker game costs $2800."

I've heard that you cheer against the Lakers?
"You phrase that as though it's only an occasional thing. It happens to be 100 percent of the time. I didn't grow up in L.A., it's not like I was a fan of the local team when I was growing up. I was a fan of another team. I didn't see any reason to drop my allegiance simply because I moved to Los Angeles." 

Do you like the air of mystery that's kind of built up around you? Like, who is he? Where did he come from? Where did his money come from?
"I'm amused by everyone calling me the mysterious man. So, I've come to enjoy it, but I've never gone out of my way to create it. To me, being famous just for sitting in the first row and going to a lot of games is not really a notable achievement. I get a lot more satisfaction out of being known as a fashion icon."

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