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May 29, 2014

Kinney on the road (and in the air) with a superfan

SAN ANTONIO — Traveling during the NBA postseason can become monotonous. You wind up in the same airports or the same highways for weeks at a time without a break.

Every once in a while, you will catch a famous person hurrying through the airport. But they usually disappear into a special lounge inhabited by people who only fly first class.

The people-watching can be fun, but at some point you lose interest and fall prey to sleep or a decent book.

I thought that is what was in store for me Wednesday when I left for San Antonio and Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals between the Oklahoma City Thunder and Spurs. But when I passed through the security gate and noticed the infamous Jimmy Goldstein in front of me, it gave my imagination a chance to work.

For those who don’t know who Goldstein is, that’s OK. He’s not a musician, actor or athlete. He’s not a politician or even a reality TV star. Yet, those who follow the NBA have seen him hundreds of times.

He is the NBA’s superfan. Dressed in brightly colored and loud clothes, he sits courtside at any venue he chooses. Lately, he has become a fixture in Oklahoma City during the playoffs.

Goldstein is one of the few people with the clout to roam the court, talk to players, officials and coaches during pre-game and no one says a word to him.

“He has so much invested in our sport,” Former NBA commissioner David Stern once said. “He probably has the largest investment of any fan in America, so we get a kick out of him. He has got quite a flair, and we love him as a sort of a superfan.”

How did one man gain so much influence? It’s not really known. Besides being a fan of the NBA since he was a kid growing up in Milwaukee and having a fashion sense all his own, Goldstein has done a pretty good job keeping secret how much he’s worth and how he made his money.

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