Courtside at the Knicks Game With Spike Lee: One Kickstarter Backer Tells All

Timothy Sykes
Tim Sykes with Spike Lee

Penny-stock trader Tim Sykes reveals what it was like to like to sit on the floor at Madison Square Garden, part of his reward for his $10,000 donation to the director's crowdfunding campaign.

What's it like to go to a Knicks game with Spike Lee and sit courtside with the team's biggest fan? A select few are finding out as part of their reward for supporting Lee's Kickstarter campaign for his upcoming bloody thriller Da Sweet Blood of Jesus.

One supporter, stock trader Tim Sykes, told The Hollywood Reporter about his night at Madison Square Garden with the legendary director. Sykes made headlines of his own in 2007 when his hedge fund lost 35 percent after shifting its focus to long-term investing instead of trading. Since then, he's returned to trading and is now teaching others the secrets of his success.

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Sykes joined Lee and his daughter at the Knicks' final game of the season last Wednesday, something the longtime fan of the NBA franchise said was not only his "best night as a Knicks fan" but a completely different experience to the ones he's used to.

The Miami resident, who visits New York frequently, explained that going to the game with Lee was a VIP experience from the start.

"Even just walking into the arena, [Lee] had a totally different entrance where everyone knew who he was," Sykes said, adding that the players, cheerleaders and staff all seem to know Lee and interact with him like he's family.

The two had dinner in a special dining room in the stadium and hung out with the players and cheerleaders before the game.

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They ran into J.R. Smith and Amar'e Stoudemire in their street clothes in the stadium and made small talk with some of the players during practice, Sykes said.

During the game, Sykes felt like he was part of the action as the famously engaged Lee interacted with the refs and players.

"When you're sitting next to Spike, you're actually conversing with the refs and the players during the game," Sykes said.

The two talked about basketball and movies during the game, with Sykes making references to Lee's famous characters like Jesus Shuttlesworth and films like 25th Hour.

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Sykes even tried to persuade Lee to make more finance films in light of the success of The Wolf of Wall Street, but the director didn't seem too interested in that.

Sykes said he donated $10,000 to Lee's Kickstarter campaign, the maximum amount, for the experience of going to a Knicks game with the director and because he supports the crowdfunding platform.

"I love the idea of Kickstarter," he says. "I love what happened with Zach Braff and Veronica Mars, and I want to encourage more filmmakers to seek alternative means of funding, and that's the future of Hollywood. If you look at the Hollywood system and the process, I think it's broken, and as more and more people realize that and start trying new things and stuff works out, we get better films, which is what everybody wants."

Although Sykes is a fan of Kickstarter and finance-themed films, the former hedge fund manager doesn't have any interest in joining some of his Wall Street peers who've invested in movies as a business venture.

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"I've met a few billionaire traders who've invested in several movies, and they line them up with Oscar-winning directors and award-winning cinematographers and the best actors and the films still bomb," Sykes said. "I'm a trader. I look at the odds, and the odds of making a successful movie aren't that high."

Sykes, who gave Lee an orange bow tie as a sign of his appreciation, said he felt like an old family friend hanging with the director and his daughter and hopes that Lee will remember him if their paths cross again.

But before they parted ways, Sykes discovered one of the best benefits of his VIP experience: a special exit that allowed him and Lee to quickly leave the crowded stadium after the game ended.