The Price of Celebrity: Emily Ratajkowski’s Denied Access to “Celebrity Row” at Madison Square Garden

The Controversy Surrounding Celebrity Access at NBA Games

The allure of the NBA extends far beyond the basketball court, captivating fans from all corners of the globe. In the United States, the sport has become a cultural phenomenon, with iconic teams like the Los Angeles Lakers, Boston Celtics, Chicago Bulls, and New York Knicks commanding a dedicated following. The latter, in particular, holds a special place in the hearts of many, as they call Madison Square Garden, one of the most legendary arenas in the world, their home. However, gaining access to the coveted “celebrity row” at these games is not as simple as being a famous face. Recently, model Emily Ratajkowski found herself at the center of controversy after being denied entry to this exclusive seating area. This incident has shed light on the conditions and obligations celebrities must meet to secure court-side seats, raising questions about the price of celebrity and the expectations placed upon those in the public eye.

Ratajkowski’s Early Departure Sparks Outrage

Ratajkowski, along with fellow model Irina Shayk, attended a thrilling Knicks game against the Miami Heat on November 25th. The game seemed to be going in favor of the Heat, who held a comfortable lead heading into the final quarter. However, a late rally by the Knicks led to a stunning comeback victory. Unfortunately, Ratajkowski and Shayk left the game a few minutes before its conclusion, missing out on the electrifying finish. This decision did not sit well with fans, especially considering the value of the seats they occupied, which can range from $6,000 to $10,000 during the regular season and even higher during the playoffs. The sight of empty seats during such a memorable moment sparked outrage among spectators.

Denial of Complimentary Tickets

Following the controversy surrounding Ratajkowski and Shayk’s early departure, Ratajkowski’s request for complimentary tickets to another Knicks game against the Memphis Grizzlies was denied by James Dolan, the owner of Madison Square Garden. This denial sent shockwaves through the entertainment industry, as it highlighted the consequences of failing to adhere to the obligations and expectations placed upon celebrities in exchange for their court-side seats.

The Battle for “Celebrity Row”

In May, the New York Post reported that the Knicks had been inundated with requests for court-side seats on “celebrity row.” Notable figures such as Chris Rock, Roger Federer, Jessica Alba, Tracy Morgan, and Dave Chappelle were among those vying for these coveted spots. Former players, including Carmelo Anthony and Walt Frazier, were also in the mix, further intensifying the competition. The demand for these seats underscores the prestige associated with being part of the exclusive group of celebrities who can be seen on “celebrity row.”

The Requirements and Expectations for Celebrities

Securing court-side seats goes beyond simply submitting a request form. Celebrities who receive approval become “friends” of Madison Square Garden, granting them access to guest stands, VIP areas, and catering services. However, a committee assesses whether these “friends” are famous enough to be considered a court-side “asset.” Additionally, celebrities who are granted access must fulfill various obligations during the game. These include participating in interviews during breaks and time-outs, interacting naturally with other celebrities, exuding positive energy, and, most importantly, supporting the home team until the final buzzer. Failure to meet these expectations can result in the loss of court-side privileges, as Ratajkowski and Shayk discovered.


Emily Ratajkowski’s denied access to “celebrity row” at Madison Square Garden has shed light on the intricate dynamics surrounding celebrity attendance at NBA games. The incident highlights the expectations and obligations placed upon celebrities in exchange for their court-side seats. As fans continue to idolize their favorite stars, the price of celebrity becomes increasingly evident, with access to exclusive experiences contingent upon meeting certain requirements. The incident serves as a reminder that even in the land of opportunity, fame comes with its own set of responsibilities and consequences.

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