8 Strange NBA Superstitions You Have to Read to Believe

Rob SchimkeContributor IIIMarch 27, 2012

8 Strange NBA Superstitions You Have to Read to Believe

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    NBA players can be a strange breed.  

    The effects of national attention and millions of dollars can create some strange reactions from players in the league.  

    In a profession that boasts so many different variables, there is little that each individual player is truly in control of at a given point.  Many of these players turn to rituals or superstitious habits to give themselves a sense of control in a crazy world they find themselves in.  

    Some rituals and superstitions truly make you scratch your head and even chuckle a bit.  But for whatever reason, these players have strange habits that they truly believe has meaning on their game.

Michael Jordan's Shorts

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    Arguably the most famous superstition in the NBA was created by Michael Jordan during his time with the Chicago Bulls.  

    After leading the North Carolina Tar Heels to a national championship in 1982, Jordan believed that the shorts he played in were lucky.

    During his entire career, he wore his North Carolina practice shorts under his NBA uniform for good luck.

    Little did Jordan know, but he is often credited for creating the style of wearing longer shorts in the NBA.  

    In order for Jordan to wear these lucky shorts under his NBA uniform, he needed to wear longer Bulls shorts to cover them up.  

    Almost 30 years later, you couldn't pay many NBA stars to wear the short-shorts that were in the league before his "Airness" graced it.     

Caron Butler's Mountain Dew and Straws

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    You rarely hear of the league banning a player's superstition.  

    But it has happened to Caron Butler—twice.  

    Earlier in his career, dating all the way back to high school, Caron would drink half a two-liter bottle of Mountain Dew before a game.  

    He would then finish the remainder of the bottle at halftime.  

    When playing for the Wizards, they assumed that chugging a two-liter of sugary carbonated beverage was probably not best for his performance.  They outlawed him from drinking it.  

    The second ritual he found banned was his love of chewing straws.  He would chew up to 12 a game.  He would pick up handfuls from McDonald's or Burger King, but refused to get them from Wendy's, for whatever reason.  

    During the game he would cut them up and chew them to pieces on the bench.  Teams he has played for banned this action, presumably for health concerns.

Jason Terry Wants Your Shorts

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    Jason Terry has gotten much attention for his superstition, because—well, it is just kind of weird.  

    Every night before a game, he has to sleep in his opponents' shorts.  

    And these can't be the same shorts anyone can buy from an NBA store.  

    They have to be authentic game-worn shorts.  He has connections all over the league of guys who help to get him his fix.  

    From players to equipment managers, Terry is going to find a way to wear your shorts if he is playing you the next day.    

LeBron James Super Friends Secret Club

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    LeBron James is famous for his trademark ritual of throwing chalk in the air and clapping his hands before tipoff of a game (which he ripped off from Kevin Garnett). 

    In addition to that ritual, he also has been known to have secret handshakes with each individual player on his team.  

    He will go up to every teammate prior to a game and perform their secret handshake before he takes the court.  

    You have to figure that is at least 11 personalized handshakes Mr. James must create on a given year.  

    Oh, the problems of the ridiculously rich.

Rasual Butler May Have OCD

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    Rasual Butler of the Toronto Raptors must get dressed in a certain way before every NBA game he plays.

    Everything must be done from left to right.

    From the way he puts his arms through his jersey to the way he ties his shoes, you will never see him do anything on the right side first.  

    In addition to this superstition, he also takes exactly five sips of water before entering a game.

    No more, no less.  Always five sips.    

Boston Celtics Meal of Champions

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    The Boston Celtics as a team share a superstition.  

    The team eats a peanut butter and jelly sandwich about an hour prior to tip.  

    The trend seems to have started with the arrival of Kevin Garnett, but before too long, pretty much the entire team had a sandwich prior to the game.  

    Come on, who doesn't love a good PB&J?  

    The love of these simple sandwiches and their good fortunes have gone so far as to divide the team into two camps—grape and strawberry.  

Ray Allen Is a Machine

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    Ray Allen is machine-like in his preparation for a game.  

    That may be a huge factor in why he has had such longevity during his career.

    He has a routine that he has done every game day for his entire career.

    Take a nap from 11:30-1

    Eat chicken and rice meal at 2:30

    Shave head and walk out onto the court at 3:30

    Basketball warmup for three hours before the game

    If he ate beef and rice, would it really change much?  Probably not, but for this NBA player, the slightest change in routine is disastrous in his mind.

Rip Hamilton Is a Very Clean Guy

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    Rip Hamilton of the Chicago Bulls takes a shower immediately prior to taking the basketball court.

    This seems counter-intuitive—to shower before you get sweaty.

    However, in order to feel in sync, Rip needs to shower and feel clean when stepping onto the court.  

    His teammates tease him a bit about the superstition.  But in order for him to play at a high level, this is simply something he must do.


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    As you have read, NBA players have many quirky superstitions.  

    It is often difficult to try to explain or understand a superstition.  

    These rituals players participate in have an effect on the psyche of each person differently, so we may truly never understand why they do what they do.  

    However, these are professional athletes, and the rest of us are not.  

    They must be doing something right.