clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

The NBA's most bizarre bans, from obscene testicle gestures to straws

The NBA had obscure player-specific rule bans long before Draymond Green started kicking groins with force.

Los Angeles Clippers v Boston Celtics Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Last week, news broke that NBA officials would be cracking down on the “unnatural acts” of nut-shots, i.e. unnecessary, intentional hits to the groin.

Brought to the forefront by the ball-blasting tendencies of a certain Golden State Warriors point forward, the ban should be patented as the “Draymond Green Rule.”

In honor of the hilarious ruling for testicular safety, here are some of the most bizarre, specific bans in NBA history.

Vince Carter: The earbud ban

Toronto Raptors v Los Angeles Clippers Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images

In 2004, NBA players and all other people around the world were listening to music on an archaic device known as the iPod. Back then, it was cool. The boxy portable stereo allowed for a listener to plug in his or her headphones and listen to their song of choice. For Vince Carter, pre-game warm-ups seemed like an ideal place to use his nifty Apple invention.

Unfortunately for Vince, the NBA hated music, fun, style, and any combination of those three elements. The league banned Carter and any other players from the inner-ear warm-up dance party. Their explanation to the Toronto Raptors for why the ruling was necessary remains flawless.

"We informed them that he can no longer do that,” then-NBA spokesman Brian McIntyre said.


Sam Cassell: The Big Balls Dance

The infamous Big Balls dance refers to a player dropping his hands to the groin area while bouncing them up and down to imply the juggling of large testicles.

The NBA doesn’t like this. No, not players having large testicles, but players insinuating in front of many families that their clutch play directly correlates to their massive balls.

Now, the NBA fines players, usually to the tune of $15,000, when they make the “obscene gesture” popularized by a man who is remembered less for being a three-time champion and more for looking a lot like E.T.

Dwyane Wade: Fashionable(?) Band-Aids

Sprite Slam Dunk Contest Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

In 2009, long after fashion pioneer and one-time Tim-McGraw collaborator Nelly began the movement, Dwyane Wade started wearing graphic-print bandages below his left eye in games. Originally used for their actual purpose of treating an injury, Wade’s Band-Aids became an early statement of NBA aesthetic independence.

Wade’s bandages sported the American flag, his “Flash” nickname, and even his own last name. You probably remember seeing this during that season’s All Star Weekend.

The NBA remembered. It banned Wade’s stylish bandages because they weren’t being worn for healthcare purposes. However, in 2016, the argument can be made that one’s outfit freshness has a direct correlation to one’s mental health.

Caron Butler: Straw chewing

Dallas Mavericks v Miami Heat - Game Six Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

NBA champion and two-time All-Star Caron Butler is a total badass. Arrested 15 times before his 15th birthday, Butler learned and developed his basketball prowess in juvenile detention.

So what did the NBA do in 2010 upon noticing that Butler, then on the Dallas Mavericks, was constantly chewing straws on the sideline? They banned Caron’s straw chewing for the sake of his own-well being.

“It’s a safety issue, period,” said Tim Frank, NBA senior vice president for basketball communications.

Butler, a man who was a drug dealer by the age of 11 in the tough streets of Racine, Wisc., received a permanent ban on chewing straws during games because of his safety. Straw deaths are few and far between in this nation, but it’s great that the NBA chose to took a stance before an all-out epidemic occurred.

Rajon Rondo: The upside-down headband

NBA Finals Game 7:  Boston Celtics v Los Angeles Lakers Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

NBA players use headbands for various reasons: keeping sweat out of their eyes, holding back their glorious hair, or even for hiding an unfortunately poor hairline. (It’s not just LeBron).

During his time with the Boston Celtics, Rajon Rondo undertook the outlandish act of wearing his headband upside down.

In 2010, in a necessary act of swift, unwavering justice, the NBA announced that uniform rules no longer allowed for players to wear their headbands upside down.

LeBron James - The black mask

In the 2013-14 NBA season, LeBron James proved that he is not an immortal creature when he suffered a broken nose in a late-February victory over Oklahoma City.

Because his clear mask was not yet ready, and because he is LeBron James and can do things that other NBA players can’t, he donned a black carbon fiber mask to protect his nose in a victory against the New York Knicks.

The NBA, however, did not see any reason to celebrate. The league asked — or more appropriately, demanded that James switch back to the typical clear mask before the team’s next game. The league wasn’t ready to accept a world where they couldn’t see LeBron’s glorious face at all possible times, nor was it ready to have its best player looking like a Zorro/Batman fusion even though that could only be a positive.

Matthew Dellavedova- Whoop wrist-wear

Minnesota Timberwolves v Cleveland Cavaliers Photo by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images

For several games of the Cleveland Cavaliers' 2015-16 season, point guard and league-wide mosquito Matthew Dellavedova sported a Whoop bracelet on his wrist. The Whoop device allowed for Dellavedova to monitor health-related measurements like heart rate or temperature while in game and provided no harm to anyone in the entire world.

The office of the NBA saw the situation differently. Whether it was for the given reason of the Whoop violating the NBA’s ban on wearable technology or to prevent Delly from using his wristband for James Bond-esque espionage purposes, the NBA banned the Cavaliers guard from wearing it for the rest of the season.

Here’s hoping Delly stays away from any other sort of Whoop-based whooping from the league with his new team, the Milwaukee Bucks.