Jack Nicholson returns courtside to cheer beloved Lakers to playoff win

Jack Nicholson attends the Lakers and Grizzlies Game 6 of the NBA playoffs
Jack Nicholson smiles before a Lakers vs. Grizzlies matchup in Game 6 of the NBA playoffs at Arena on Friday. No foul was called on the play.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Oscar winner Jack Nicholson made a rare public appearance Friday night to cheer his beloved Los Angeles Lakers to a Game 6 first-round playoff win against the Memphis Grizzlies.

The longtime courtside fixture and “The Shining” star flashed a thumbs up and smiles during the crowd-roaring 125-85 Lakers rout, seated with actor son Ray.

Jack Nicholson wears an MVP shirt at the 2008 Lakers playoffs
Jack Nicholson attends Game 2 of the 2008 NBA Western Conference semifinal playoffs as Los Angeles Lakers’ Kobe Bryant receives the NBA’s most valuable player trophy.
(Kevork Djansezian / Associated Press)

Nicholson hadn’t made a front-row appearance in nearly two years since attending last season’s opening game in 2021, per Showtime’s Rachel Nichols. The “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and “Chinatown” star celebrated his 86th birthday last week.

Friday night before tipoff, onlookers captured his return as he was greeted by fellow celeb booster Larry David and welcomed with a hug by LeBron James.

Even the Lakers’ Twitter account marked the moment with two words that needed no further explanation: “Jack’s back.”

Known for years for trash-talking and charming refs and opponents from the sidelines, Nicholson, a former point guard himself, has cheered the Lakers on through home games, hard times and playoff wins since the 1960s.

“Half the time he calls me Flip, the other half of the time he calls me Skip,” then-Timberwolves coach Flip Saunders told The Times during the 2004 NBA playoffs. “But he’s a great fan. He’s trying to get the Lakers pumped up. You love to see people show the passion he does for the game.”

Nicholson’s last acting role was in the 2010 romantic comedy “How Do You Know,” directed by fellow NBA fan James L. Brooks.


As the Lakers clinched their win on Friday they celebrated Nicholson’s return, giving the legendary actor his own close-up on the Arena Jumbotron.

A look back at the actor’s courtside affiliation with the team.

March 22, 2014