Celebrity seating at Knicks games determined by ‘mysterious proprietary formula’

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Spike Lee sits courtside and Woody Allen isn’t invited to the VIP lounge.

That much is known.

Otherwise, how the New York Knicks – and other teams in major markets – handle the celebrities at their games is mostly a mystery.

Sarah Lyall of The New York Times peaked behind the curtain at Madison Square Garden and better explains how it works in New York:

The Garden, it turns out, has an ad-hoc celebrity-handling team whose members determine who in fact counts as a celebrity and to what degree; pursue relationships with those people (or their representatives); and deflect demands from lower-level personalities who wish they were celebrities but in fact are not. On game nights, the team also has to contend with such tricky questions as, is Katie Holmes more important than Liam Neeson? And, when you have two rappers with the same last name — Mike D. from the Beastie Boys and Chuck D. from Public Enemy — should you seat them near each other?

At the recent Knicks-Heat game, the answers could be found, as is so often the case, on an Excel spreadsheet. Entitled “VIP Locations” and organized according to some mysterious proprietary formula, it mapped out exactly who would sit where — John McEnroe in the third row, the boxer Miguel Cotto in the fifth row, a gaggle of New York Rangers in the 17th row — and it reflected various unspoken rules of V.I.P. placement.

Make sure they all have decent seats. Make sure that some, but not all, end up sitting with other celebrities. Make sure to put the most important people in Celebrity Row — this calculation is “based on the A-level nature” of those celebrities, Mr. Watkins said — while not hurting the feelings of the people whose level hovers down at the sad end of the alphabet.

If only the Knicks applied such analytically guided care to constructing their roster.

No need to re-hash that mess at the moment, though. If you’re interested in what the Knicks offer – and expect of – their celebrities, read Lyall’s full piece to get a taste.