You’ll be hard-pressed to catch Howard Stern at a Knicks game since he became a recluse. But there was a time when the famed radio host frequented Madison Square Garden’s front row.
This season, with the Knicks winning just their second NBA Playoffs series since trading away Patrick Ewing, the Garden’s celebrity row is a magnet for stars, prompting Stern to talk about his experiences sitting courtside.
“The Knicks have been very kind to me,” Stern told co-host Robin Quivers during his Monday morning SiriusXM Radio show, as transcribed by Mediaite. “They put me right in the front row. That’s when I knew I was famous.”
While Stern appreciates getting front row treatment from the Knicks, he sounded less appreciative of the treatment he receives from the team’s Black players. Stern went on a strange rant complaining that Black NBA players have largely ignored him when sitting courtside.
“They put me courtside! And the Black players won’t come over and say hello to me,” Stern said. “But they go over to Spike Lee.”
“They don’t acknowledge you at all?” Quivers asked.
“No. I’ll be sitting next to Tracy Morgan or Chris Rock. You know, they seat you where they seat you. And a lot of times when I’m there, I’m next to Tracy Morgan, who is so funny. And he’s sitting there and like, a couple of the players will come over. They like give him that bro shake and stuff. And I’m like — these guys should hug me too,” Stern continued. “I mean, what am I? I grew up in a Black neighborhood, you know what I mean? I mean they should know that. But I get ignored.”
Quivers asked him to surmise why that might be the case, to which Stern assumed it’s because he’s a “white guy.”
“You think it’s a racial thing?” Quivers asked. “I’m sure they talk to some white people.”
“No, not that I saw,” Stern claimed. “I want them to. I want them to talk to me, I want them to come over and go, ‘Hey Howard, fan of the show!’ Or something. I don’t get that. And, you know who comes up to me sometimes — the referees. White guys and Black guys, they’ll come up to me, White referees and Black. Like, ‘Hey Howard, hey.’ But yeah, a lot of the White referees. So I’m like, oh, is everything racial now?”
Stern’s treatment from NBA players while sitting courtside probably isn’t something anyone would have expected to be a racial issue, but he’s the one who went there. And part of the reason Stern went there is because he hopes it’s a race issue.
“I just get upset. I’m like, you know, fame to me is very important. I’ll admit it. I like people to recognize me,” Stern said. “I’d like to think it’s a white thing, not my personality. I hope it’s racial. That’s all.”
Unfortunately for Stern, I’m not sure it’s racial. NBA players might be aware of Tracy Morgan and Chris Rock because of their stand-up comedy and prominent movie roles. However, most current NBA players missed out on Stern’s reign as the unequivocal King of All Media, which is probably why he gets more attention from the older referees. The average age of an active NBA referee is around 46 years old, while the average player is just 26 and probably doesn’t know who Baba Booey is.