I don’t remember exactly when I began eating oatmeal with blueberries for breakfast, or when I first started drinking green tea immediately when I get to work. But somewhere along the way, those rituals went from personal preference to pretty much mandatory—they’re so much a fabric of who I am that I feel my day is completely thrown off if I don’t get to either one.
That could be why it raised so many eyebrows when the NBA put a 90-second time limit between player introductions before the 2012-13 season. Put in place to shorten games, the rule bristled players and empathetic fans alike, who were used to elaborate choreographed pre-game routines like this one by the Thunder’s Jeremy Lamb and Perry Jones.
Speaking of OKC, Kevin Durant—no stranger to a specific pre-game regimen—was quite vocal that he wasn’t a fan of the rule.
“Every player in this league has routines they do with their teammates, rituals they do before the game and before they walk on the floor,” KD said at the time. “The fans like it. The fans enjoy it. You see the fans mimicking the guys who do their stuff before the game.
“To cut that down really don’t make no sense. Why would you do it? I really don’t agree with it, but I don’t make the rules.”
Luckily, the time limit only applied to the period between introductions and the opening tip. And if we’re being honest, 90 seconds would seem more than enough time for Durant to tie his shoes a certain way or for LeBron to toss up the chalk if he feels like it.
Besides, many of the most colorful pre-game rituals take place well before introductions, even sometimes the night before a game. Journeymen and Hall of Famers alike have always had some pretty out-there superstitions for how they eat, dress, or otherwise act to get themselves mentally and physically prepared to play at the highest level.
As such, here is our list of the NBA’s weirdest pre-game rituals. You might have a few favorites we don’t cover here, so feel free to chime in with those. And I’d suggest brewing up a mug of green tea to enjoy while you read, but I fully understand if that’s more my thing than yours.