Courtside seats are the ultimate status symbol in the sporting world. That's because they cannot simply be bought. In Los Angeles, season ticket holders control every courtside seat at Lakers games.

Jerry Buss, who owned the Lakers until he died in 2013, wanted four courtside seats. He decided to make his play in the late 1990s as he prepared to move his team to the Staples Center from the Great Western Forum. He wanted to take care of new corporate sponsors and friends, and, well, he wanted them because he owned the team.

So he approached a bunch of actors, talent agents and corporate moguls who controlled the seats with a wad of cash in had. He thought he could make it worth their while to give up their seats. Every single one turned him down.

"I mean, people leave those seats in their wills," said John Black, the Lakers vice president of public relations.

It's a slightly different situation in most other NBA arenas. Some NBA teams, like the Raptors and the Knicks, set aside a handful for VIPs, but others, like the Lakers, have those seats controlled by season ticket holders.

Black remembers once talking about that difference with his counterpart with the Knicks.

"If I had eight courtside seats for Laker games I'd own this city," he said. "But unfortunately we don't."

There has always been a steady stream of requests for courtside seats at Raptors games. In the early years, Samuel L. Jackson came to a bunch of games while he was in town shooting a movie. They'd get musicians coming through Toronto on tour, and athletes such as Wayne Gretzky. But demand has changed in the past year.

"We are getting more requests now that the team is hot," said Tom Pistore, the vice president of ticket sales and service with the Raptors owner, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment. "And now we have a higher calibre of celebrity."

On Thursday, Pistore was working on seats for William H. Macy, who contacted the Raptors to let them know he was coming to town and wanted seats for an upcoming game.  

There are 16 top seats at Raptors games. They are officially known by the underwhelming "Team Seats," but they are colloquially known around the league as Hollywood seats. Each one at the Air Canada Centre goes for $84,765 for the season, according to Pistore.
Drake, the hip hop emperor and MLSE's global ambassador, sits in two of those thrones whenever he wants, but they are owned by MLSE for marketing purposes — meaning stars can sit there when Drake does not attend.

There are 300 courtside seats spread across three rows at the Air Canada Centre. Minimum buy in for a floor seats is about $25,000 per season, Pistore said. For the plebes wondering if they save up $500 for one game on the floor, they aren't available. They are all sold out for the season and only available as season tickets.

Requests from VIPs come in a variety of ways, including requests to Dave Haggith, the communications director for MSLE, and his team, and to Pistore as well as to the team's VIP host.

Generally speaking, VIPs don't pay for these seats, Pistore said. But there is a tit-for-tat expected. Number one, those celebrities will have their face broadcast on the scoreboard at some point during the game. And many will also get involved in one of the sideshows.

A few weeks ago, Canada's young tennis star, Eugenie Bouchard, played tennis (in high heels) against the Raptors' mascot during a break in play. Mike Weir hit some golf balls one time and Macklemore tossed t-shirts into the crowd.

For the celebs it's a place to be seen, stroking their egos. And sometimes they get involved in the game. Drake has become a show unto himself, whipping out a lint roller to clean his pants in a playoff game last season. The team jumped on the attention and gave out lint rollers at a later post-season match. He made headlines again this season when he showed up to a game with George Costanza-esque glasses and an old man sweater.

Celebrities have a long history sitting courtside for their favourite teams. In many ways some have even become the face of a franchise, being the constant in a world where players come and go.

The Knicks aggressively pursued celebrities to come to their games in the 1960s, giving away free courtside tickets. While they had some success, most attribute the rise of Hollywood to, obviously, the Los Angeles scene.

The important people didn't always flock to Laker games. In the 1960s the hot ticket in the city were baseball's Dodgers followed by the NFL's Rams. The Lakers were an afterthought. Then starlet Doris Day started going to Laker games, according to the book Considering Doris Day by Tom Santopietro. Then the stars started trickling in as the team started winning, led by Jerry West and Elgin Baylor.

The Lakers went to the finals six times in the 60s, but lost each time to the hated Boston Celtics. Jack Nicholson was a big fan, who was trying to make it in Hollywood as a screenwriter in the 1960s. He befriended Bert Schneider, whose father ran Columbia Pictures. Schneider was an executive producer for Easy Rider, the film that launched Nicholson to stardom, who bought six courtside season tickets to Laker games, according to Marc Eliot's 2013 biography, Nicholson. Schneider showed his appreciation by giving Nicholson a $20,000 advance to buy a house on Mulholland Drive and two of his courtside seats. And the courtside legend was born.

Everything really changed in 1979 when Jerry Buss bought the team from Jack Kent Cooke, and recreated the Lakers and the arena in his own flashy image. Showtime was born. The idea was simple: basketball was part of a broader experience at the arena.

He brought in women to cheerlead during stoppages, turned a restaurant at the Great Western Forum into a nightclub where celebrities would be ushered in via limousine and opened his wallet to bring in top-notch basketball talent.

The league itself was struggling by the late 70s to the point that championship games were being shown on CBS on tape delay. The Lakers already had a star, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and owned the first overall pick in the 1979 draft as a result of an earlier trade with the New Orleans Jazz. With that pick they took Magic Johnson.

Buss also wanted his coaches to play an exhilarating up-tempo style, which never would have been as successful without Magic. The Lakers won the championship in Buss's first season as owner and would go on to win nine more in the following three decades.

Buss once said: "I really tried to create a Laker image, a distinct identity. I think we've been successful. I mean, the Lakers are pretty damn Hollywood."

Sometimes those Hollywood stars are just like us. They cheer, yell and sometimes get involved in the game.

Spike Lee has sat courtside for decades at Madison Square Garden for Knick games. He is known as much for his courtside jawing with rival Reggie Miller as he is for his movies.

And then there's Jack. In a playoff game between the Lakers and the San Antonio Spurs in 2003, Nicholson lost it, stepping onto the court and berating referee Mark Wunderlich for his foul call on Shaquille O'Neal.

The Laker crowd went nuts. The referees went to the scorer's table — just two seats over from Nicholson's seats — as they discussed whether to kick the star out of the game. The officials asked security to prepare to escort the actor out. As they huddled together, Nicholson cooled and sat back down.

The Lakers public address announcer, Lawrence Tantor, was at the table where officials discussed the delicate subject of kicking out the team's most famous fan.

"If they had thrown him out, there would have been a riot," Tantor told the Associated Press at halftime.

The officials, likely realizing it was a battle they couldn't win, let Nicholson stay.

"I pay a lot of money for this seat," Nicholson said to the Associated Press, also at halftime. "This is the NBA, you can't tell me to sit down."

The next day, O'Neal told reporters: "I'm glad somebody sticks up for me — I appreciate it, Jack."

In Toronto, sitting courtside is a privilege for the privileged. Yet every once in a while, the sun shines on the average Joe. Raptor Greivis Vasquez was so moved by a video he saw online that he thought about how he could show his appreciation to the man who starred in it. The answer: courtside seats.

Andre H. Arruda was inspired by a video circulating last month that showed the overwhelming harassment a woman faced as she walked around New York City in a day, while secretly being filmed by a friend.

Arruda, who stands 3'2" because of a genetic condition known as Morquio syndrome whereby he lacks an enzyme needed to break down large sugar molecules. The video is difficult to watch. Arruda, a comedian by trade, moves around Toronto's streets for several hours on his motorized chair.

"Hey, yo, leprechaun," shouts one man.

"Mini Me!" yells another. Others stare, some laugh, some point and others take photos. The video went viral, which Vasquez watched shortly thereafter.

So Vasquez reached out to Arruda and invited him to the game. He sat along the baseline and was welcomed by Raptor superfan, Nav Bhatia, a local car dealer mogul who has become a celebrity simply for sitting courtside.

"It was thrilling," Arruda said. "Anyone could have missed a shot and hit me on the head, that's how close I was. I was moved by his gesture. He's not just a star who's all in his head. He said he wanted to put a smile on my face. And he did."

The speed and power of the game is difficult to describe, Arruda said, and can only really be experienced.

It was a simple gesture by Vasquez, but the star power of the courtside seat caught the eye of TMZ, which reached out to Arruda for an interview to discuss not only the game, but harassment of disabled people.

"People think that we're in Canada and we're polite, but there are a--holes everywhere," Arruda said.  

Yet for one night, sitting along the baseline, close enough feel the heat of the sweaty players, Arruda felt like a king.