Credit: BNS, Reuters - Scanpix | BasketNews illustration/M.Dildė
Credit BNS, Reuters - Scanpix | BasketNews illustration/M.Dildė

Novak Djokovic and his emotional presence at FC Barcelona and Crvena Zvezda mts game in Belgrade went viral last week. But the best tennis player in the world is not the only celebrity you can find in the EuroLeague arenas. 

Free throws this season

Points made: 14,4
Accuracy: 81,6%
Place in standings: 1
Record max: 26
Record min: 4
Most made FTs: Nikola Mirotic

BasketNews presents a shortlist of worldwide celebrities in love with EuroLeague basketball.

Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic's appearance in Pionir made the headlines all over Europe.

When was the last time EuroLeague finalists players wanted to take a selfie with somebody from the crowd, not vice-versa?

Exactly, Djokovic stole the show last week in Barcelona's win against Crvena Zvezda 76-69.

The best tennis player in the world was super active at the courtside, jumping, screaming, and doing whatever it took to help his team win.

Djokovic has been in love with Crvena Zvezda since he was a child. That also comes from his family. Djokovic's father, Srdjan, was always a big Crvena Zvezda supporter. His brother Djordje always buys season tickets.

Only when his heavy schedule lets him, at least once a year he comes to watch his beloved basketball team.

In 2013, Djokovic took a private plane from Monte Carlo to Belgrade to support Crvena Zvezda in the first EuroCup semifinal game against UNICS Kazan. Zvezda won by 11 but didn't advance to the finals when Nikos Zisis destroyed their hopes with a 26-point second-half performance.

"I enjoy watching the game, but I don't analyze it and the quality of two teams like an expert. For me, the most important is that players are doing their best showing their love for the club, and that's how it should be," Djokovic told Serbian media.

Although Djokovic loves Zvezda to death, he has a slightly different approach to their main rivals, Partizan, than many red and white supporters.

"I support Zvezda, but I don't hate Partizan. I support Partizan in all games except when they play against Zvezda. I played tennis for Partizan when I was younger, so I have no problem," Djokovic said six years ago.

Outside the court, Djokovic had a unique relationship with one of the icons of the game of basketball.

Kobe Bryant was one of the closest people who helped him overcome injuries and get back on the top.

"When I needed some advice and support, he was there for me. He was my friend, my mentor. It's heartbreaking to see what has happened to him and his daughter," Djokovic said after winning his eighth Australian Open. He showed his respect to Kobe by wearing a KB24 jacket.

By the way, Djokovic can ball too. He even got some praise from Luka Doncic when he shared his video, imitating Luka Doncic ISO plays.

Charles Leclerc

One of the best Formula 1 drivers shares a unique Monagasque story. 

The current population of Monaco in 2020 was around 35-40 thousand, of whom approximately 20% were Monegasque. Charles Leclerc has made that small percentage of residents since he was born in Monaco in 1997.

National identity is huge for Monegasques, so Charles sincerely supports every Monaco team and athlete in individual sports.

Gradually, he learned about basketball more and more and became a big fan of AS Monaco.

When Leclerc signed with Ferrari in 2018, he received Roca Team jerseys with number 16, his Formula 1 racing number.

Three years ago, he made a jump ball before the game and quickly became one of the most beloved Roca Team supporters.

Leclerc would love to attend more AS Monaco games, but with 22 races per year, his heavy schedule doesn't allow it to happen as often as he wants.

But when he makes the game, Roca Team fans don't miss an opportunity to take a selfie. In years, AS Monaco supporters got to know the intelligent, respectful, honestly humble, and sincere side of Charles Leclerc.

Even AS Monaco players don't shy away from taking pictures with their famous courtside supporter, many of them follow him on Instagram and enjoy their sideline interactions.

He got to know basketball rules better, and he often asks about how European basketball works, comparing it with Formula 1.

Leclerc watched the NBA season opener between the Milwaukee Bucks and the Brooklyn Nets this year.

During the latest USA Grand Prix, he also participated in the NBA events with former stars Chris Bosh and Dikembe Mutombo.

His favorite AS Monaco player was JJ O'Brien, so when Roca Team won the EuroCup last season, he gave him a signed Ferrari 1 helmet as a gift.

Former Formula 1 driver Felipe Massa, FC Monaco midfielder Cesc Fabregas, football team head coach Niko Kovac, model Jeremy Ray Meeks, and, of course, Prince of Monaco Albert II, were among many celebrities in Salle Gaston Medecin attendance. In shiny Monaco, they're used to famous passers-by.

Giorgio Armani

Whenever you visit Mediolanum Forum, you can be almost sure that you'll find the biggest fan of AX Armani Exchange watching the show from the courtside.

Mr. Giorgio Armani has many reasons to be beloved by Olimpia Milano supporters.

His older brother played basketball at a young age, and he was the one who brought a passion for the game to the Armani family home.

In 2004, the legendary club Olimpia Milan was close to disappearing from the European basketball map. But back then, two soccer clubs and a new owner Giorgio Corbelli united for saving the basketball team in Milan.

At first, Giorgio Armani agreed to come aboard only as a sponsor. But when Milan faced the verge of extinction in 2008 again, Mr. Armani stepped up. He didn't want the club to be disbanded. Out of his generosity for the city, he bought 100 percent of the club shares and started a new project.

Now Olimpia Milan is the club owned by the Giorgio Armani empire.


His right arm in the club, the team president Leo Dell'Orco, was always a die-hard basketball lover. He was the one who wanted to convince Ettore Messina to take over basketball operations in the city of fashion.

Besides Mr. Armani and other fashion stars, usually, you can see a few football legends at Mediolanum Forum stands.

For example, Esteban Cambiasso often comes to watch games. When Massimiliano Allegri was the head coach of AC Milan, he was a regular visitor at home matches. But in Milan, they call Giuseppe Bergomi the biggest fan of AX Armani Exchange among the former footballers. An Inter legend won the World Cup in 1982, and he's a season ticket holder.

Adriano Galliani, a former AC Milan vice-chairman and CEO, at the age of 77, also is a frequent Olimpia Milan supporter at home games.

Among the football and fashion stars at Mediolanum, you can often find Olympic gold medalist Filippo Tortu, who sensationally won gold for the Italian 4x100 m relay team. A good friend of Luigi Datome is a big Olimpia Milan fan.

Gerard Pique and Antoinne Griezmann

According to Forbes, Barcelona was the fourth most valuable sports team in the world in 2021. So you can imagine that it's hard to find more prominent celebrities in Palau Blaugrana than football players.

And if that football player comes with a worldwide known singer, that makes a perfect match for this list.

FC Barcelona defender Gerard Pique is one of the most avid basketball fans from the football field. And he often comes to the games with Shakira. In 2020, Forbes listed Shakira and Pique on their World's Most Powerful Couples list.

In 2020, Pique and a few other Barcelona superstars Xavi, Carles Puyol, Bojan Krkic, Sergi Busquets, and the president of the organization Joan Laporta arrived at Paris-Bercy arena midway through the EuroLeague final to witness their basketball team triumph over Olympiacos Piraeus.

Antoine Griezmann is known as a die-hard basketball fan among the former FC Barcelona players.

Griezmann is in a great relationship with Nikola Mirotic. They both landed in Barcelona the same year, 2019, and got along pretty well. In Barca, they shared the same communication manager and spent quite some time together.

It's worth taking a look at their funny duel on basketball and football skills challenge.

Griezmann is also a passionate NBA fan. He even video bombed Paul Pogba's interview after the 2018 World Cup final with a random "I love Derrick Rose" comment.

They don't make championship rings like in the NBA. But Griezmann made one for himself in 2018 for winning the Europa League.

Later he won the World Cup that year. Together with Pogba, they convinced the rest of the team to make them.  After eight months of waiting, they had their own ring ceremony at the French NT camp.

Griezmann attended a few NBA games and even asked the French Football Federation to commemorate their achievement in the World Cup just like they do in the NBA. 

Usually, Barcelona players have the best relationship with handball or futsal stars because they all share Palau Blaugrana.

FC Barcelona unites a huge family of sports figures. In the last El Clasico, one of the best football players, Alexia Putellas, the captain of FC Barcelona women's team, enjoyed Barca's victory over Real Madrid. 

Alexander Ovechkin

Like Monaco, Moscow is another destination where you can find many stars in the basketball game.

Usually, they're known more for the locals, but that's not the case when we're talking about one of the best NHL goalscorers of all time Alexander Ovechkin.

The 1st overall pick of NHL draft 2004 is a good friend of Russian veteran Vitaly Fridzon. When he spent five years with CSKA, Ovechkin watched CSKA games live whenever his schedule allowed.

But that's not the single Ovechkin's basketball connection at all. His mother Tatyana won Olympic basketball gold in 1976 and 1980 and later coached Dynamo Moscow women's basketball team.

Michael Jordan is a favorite Ovechkin's athlete. The NHL champion was very impressed with the Last Dance documentary.

"I think this is one of the best sports projects," Ovechkin said in an interview on Sychev Podcast and Denis Kazansky YouTube channel. "Every time a new episode came out, I closed myself in the room because my wife was pregnant. When you are an athlete, you understand what this person has achieved, and he begins to talk about his life, how everything went, how he moved after failures... Very cool."

The captain of the Washington Wizards has some hoops as well. 

He also attends some Wizards games.

If there are no stars in the attendance of Megasport arena, including a retired NASA astronaut and US Navy SEAL Christopher Cassidy, you never know, maybe they have support from space.

Darko Peric

If you're a fan of Money Heist (Casa de Papel), this gentleman doesn't need any further introduction. What needs more explanation is his passion for the game of basketball.

A 44-year-old actor, also known as Helsinki, was born in Serbia, so basketball is in his DNR.

He grew up in the golden Yugoslavian basketball era. Drazen Petrovic, Vlade Divac, Dejan Bodiroga... So many masterminds taught Darko the beauty of basketball.

Despite being the ambassador of the Milwaukee Bucks, Darko always preferred European basketball.

Luka Doncic is his favorite player, but he also admires Nikola Mirotic, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Ricky Rubio and others. For example, his guy Nenad Dimitrijevic.

Darko stays in Barcelona, and recently he visited the EuroLeague's El Clasico. He loves crunch time the most. He probably would have been a shooter if he were a basketball player.

Darko has already participated in some EuroLeague projects. 

His commercial with coaching minds like Zeljko Obradovic, Ettore Messina, and Sarunas Jasikevicius brought many smiles.

He also had a one-hour conversation with Zeljko Obradovic on the EuroLeague's YouTube channel.

Darko wants to use his popularity to spread European basketball and put in documentary series. 

Thierry Henry

It's hard to call Thierry Henry a die-hard fan of ASVEL Villeurbanne, AS Monaco, or any other French team. He's more of a basketball fan in general.

He's a good buddy of Tony Parker, and he visits his friend at Astroballe arena next to Lyon from time to time.

Former French football superstar grew up enjoying classic Lakers and Celtics rivalry, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird battles. 

He also admired Isaiah Thomas, Karl Malone, and John Stockton, but nobody could compare to him once he saw Michael Jordan.

He was always a bigger fan of NBA basketball. Henry visited Tony Parker in San Antonio not just to celebrate but to support him during the rehab.

In France, you could see Henry in the attendance of AS Monaco games as well.

Henry showed a perfect combination between his basketball passion and football skills, making a half-court shot with his foot before the NBA Africa Game 2017.

He also surprised Giannis Antetokounmpo, congratulating him for delivering the NBA title to Milwaukee, just as he promised.

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