Throughout NBA history, there have been some unbelievable players, iconic performances, and even some ludicrous fines handed out. Yet, there have been some amazing things that oftentimes don’t get the attention and credit they deserve. Pregame rituals certainly top that list.
From superstars to prominent bench players, every NBA hooper has something unique to help them get ready for each game. Some are hilarious. A few are legendary. Others are just downright crazy, like Boston Celtics legend Bill Russell vomiting before games or Jason Terry sleeping in his opponent’s shorts the night before he played, Oklahoma City Thunder All-Star guard Russell Westbrook dancing, or Hall of Fame center Shaquille O’Neal fake bowling in the locker room and after pregame introductions when he played for the Phoenix Suns.
Coolest NBA Pregame Rituals
Not impressed yet? There are countless examples to choose from, but for good luck, let’s take a look at the seven coolest and unforgettable pregame rituals by NBA players of all time.
Michael Jordan’s Chalk Shower
Before His Airness laced up his famous sneakers and put on a show every night at the United Center, the Chicago Bulls superstar guard would put chalk in his hands. That’s not abnormal, by any means, but what he did after was absolutely hilarious. In his very own pregame routine, MJ would shower Bulls broadcaster Johnny Red Kerr. After a while, Kerr played along and would bring props such as gas masks, scarfs and an umbrella to his courtside desk.
LeBron James’ Chalk Toss
Much like Jordan, The King also had a famous chalk ritual before every game with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Miami Heat and now with Los Angeles Lakers alongside Anthony Davis. It’s become a rather iconic pregame for the NBA’s biggest star, but he has scaled it back over the years. Nevertheless, King James’ pregame chalk toss high into the air is always an incredible sight and even cooler than the handshakes he would do before NBA Finals games with teammates like Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love, and J.R. Smith.
Don’t you just want to buy some chalk and do this now?
Stephen Curry’s Tunnel Shot
It’s currently Steph’s World and everyone is just here right now to live in it. Everyone already knew the Golden State Warriors star guard had unlimited range, and the greatest shooter ever proves that before every game inside Oracle Arena. Once Steph Curry finishes his warmup, he trots back to the locker room to get his uniform on. But before he exits completely, he takes a pass from the same security guard and sinks it from the tunnel. It takes a special player to do this consistently and Curry is just that.
Kevin Garnett’s Stanchion Headbutt
It’s no secret Kevin Garnett is one of the most intense players in NBA history. That will forever be what he is known for in his long NBA All-Star career with the Minnesota Timberwolves, Boston Celtics and Brooklyn Nets. What he did prior to each game is proof of that. After the pregame introductions, whether home or away, Garrett would have a moment to himself, to his shorts, and then headbutt the stanchion to show he’s ready to play.
Charles Oakley’s Assist to Spike Lee
Charles Oakley was never a really a big superstar in the NBA. In fact, he only made one NBA All-Star Game appearance in his long career from 1985-2004. But his best years were with the New York Knicks and the 6-foot-8 power forward had an amazing pregame ritual with one the game’s most legendary fans. Before the opening tip at Madison Square Garden, Oakley would throw a pass to Spike Lee at courtside to have the star filmmaker inspect the game ball. There’s not much film on it, but it was perfect.
Dwyane Wade’s Pull-Ups
There are many things that make Dwyane Wade great, but his pregame ritual is one of the most underrated. Prior to every game, no matter the NBA arena, Wade hangs on the rim and does three pull-ups to match his No. 3 jersey for the Miami Heat. Everyone knew D-Wade was ready after he landed on the hardwood.
Vince Carter’s Net Grab
As one of the greatest dunkers ever, Vince Carter actually got ready for every game below the rim. During his amazing career, from the Toronto Raptors to now the Atlanta Hawks, Carter would take the ball, hand it back to the official, and then grab the net to do one pull up before the opening tip-off. It never gets old watching Vinsanity do his thing, even in the last year of his career.
This article was originally published December 8, 2018.