On February 4th, 2001, Jimmy Buffett was ejected from the American Airlines Arena in Miami during a Heat / Knicks NBA basketball game for cursing at referee Joe Forte, who didn’t even know who he was.
From Yahoo! News:
Jimmy Buffett found the American Airlines Arena in Miami to be tougher to visit as a spectator than as a performer. Buffett was booted from his courtside seat at Sunday’s (February 4, 2001) New York Knicks/Miami Heat basketball game by a referee for using excessive profanity.
After the game, referee Joe Forte said that he ordered the singer moved during the fourth quarter because “there was a little boy sitting next to him and a lady sitting by him. He used some words he knows he shouldn’t have used.”
However, Forte apparently didn’t know who he’d just removed from the arena. Heat coach Pat Riley tried to explain who Buffett was to Forte and was censured himself because the referee thought Riley was insulting him by asking if he’d ever been a “Parrothead,” the nickname for Buffett’s loyal fans.
Buffett had no comment on the incident. The Knicks won the game in overtime, 103-100.
Though Buffett didn’t comment immediately after the incident, he did appear on The Today Show three days later and talked with Matt Lauer about the ejection. Jimmy was laughing and having a very good time with it. Matt told Jimmy that his punishment should be that he play a concert for their Summer Concert Series.
NewsChannel 2 asked Buffett if he had learned his lesson and if he was going to watch it:
“If my son’s there, yes,” Buffett said. “If he’s not there, no. I was more afraid of going home and seeing my wife after this whole thing happened because I knew what she was going to say.”
Buffett also mentioned that he was more upset that some news outlets reported that Cameron was actually his grandson, not his son.
In a Q&A with Sports Illustrated, Buffett recanted the incident:
It was a bad call. It still is a rotten call! John Starks clobbered Tim Hardaway. It was a close game. I just said you stupid, mother——, that is the worst call I ever heard. People yell all the time but he turned at me. Normally, referees do not make eye contact. So while he did not come over to me, he told the local security guard. By then the crowd was getting into it. Pat Reilly was on the bench, asking ‘They are kicking you out of the game? Alonzo was like: Sit down. You stay there. I told the security guard. This is probably not a good idea. Then they came to me and said they would give the Heat a technical foul. So I said, okay, I’ll go.
In a 2011 interview with ESPN, Buffett said he wouldn’t do anything different:
“No, I wouldn’t do anything different. I remember it humorously now. Alonzo (Mourning) was telling me to stay there. He (referee, Joe Forte) didn’t have any idea who I was. Some people thought it was a publicity stunt. … It completely wasn’t. My son was young, and I told him I was going to have to leave the game because I said a bad word. He said, ‘Do I have to leave?’ “