Buffett Booted from NBA Game

ByABC News
February 4, 2001, 3:42 PM

Feb. 4 -- Jimmy Buffett may not be wasting away in Margaritaville, but he wasted his courtside NBA seat this afternoon.

The 54-year-old singer created a disturbance near the end of regulation during today's Miami Heat-New York Knicks showdown, briefly stopping the game and getting kicked out of the arena as well.

With about two minutes left in a tense Eastern Conference contest between the traditional rivals, and the score tied at 91, play stopped for a timeout and did not resume until the referees made sure Buffet was being escorted from Miami's American Airlines Arena.

Buffett, whose hit "Margaritaville" launched him to stardom, had apparently been yelling at the officials from his seat just behind the baseline.

Referee Joe Forte said he ejected Buffett for using profanity.

Forte did not know who Buffett was, said Heat coach Pat Riley after the game.

"I told Joe Forte, I said, 'Do you know who that is?"' Riley said. "I said, 'Do you mean to tell me you've never been a Parrothead in your life?' So that tells you where our officials are coming from.

"He thought I was insulting him. He wanted to give me a technical for calling him a Parrothead," Riley said.

Buffett's fans are known as "Parrotheads."

Initially, Buffet refused to leave as players from both teams milled around on court. After several minutes, the pop star and entrepreneur cooperated with police and was not arrested.

Buffett: Big Heat Fan

Buffet is a noted Heat fan who has sung the national anthem at the team's playoff games and is a friend of the Heat's famed coach, Pat Riley.

NBA officials and league authorities have been especially concerned with keeping conflicts between fans, players and officials to a minimum in recent weeks.

At the Knicks-Heat game, two players were almost ejected themselves in overtime, not long after Buffett was tossed out.

The Heat's Anthony Mason and Larry Johnson tangled and were called for double technical fouls. No punches were thrown, however, and both players finished the game.