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Why do NBA players have to tuck in their jerseys? What happens if they don’t do it?

Though it may seem like a lot of fuss about nothing, the fact remains that the NBA has very specific rules concerning the tucking in of a player’s jersey.

Though it may seem like a lot of fuss about nothing, the fact remains that the NBA has very specific rules concerning the tucking in of a player’s jersey.

As we’ve seen recently the debate about the tucking of jerseys has once again taken center stage. Can players untuck their jerseys? What happens if they don’t? Why is it so important anyway? All questions we’re going to answer.

What’s the NBA’s stance on jersey tucking?

Now, you may or may not know this but back in 2019 during a game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Minnesota Timberwolves, then Thunder point guard Chris Paul asked the referee to issue a delay of play violation against the Timberwolves. The Timberwolves were then called for a technical foul and the Thunder received a free throw with which they won the tightly contested game. Why is this important? You see, what Paul did was draw attention to a rule that many fans don’t know exists and that is the one that relates to entering the court from the bench.

As per NBA Rules, “A substitute must be read to enter the game when beckoned. No delays for removal of warm-up clothing will be permitted.” As it stands, that also relates to having one’s jersey untucked which constitutes not being ready to enter the court. If it is the first time that this occurs, the offending team is given a warning. If it happens again a technical foul is called against the team and the opponent is awarded a free throw, as we saw in the above-mentioned case with Chris Paul. It’s interesting to note that players do untuck their jerseys during play, which is not dealt with in the same manner by referees.

Adidas & Nike tried to help the cause

One interesting point to note is the way in which companies like Adidas and Nike have attempted to tackle the problem. When the rule was brought into effect, it was Adidas who manufactured the league’s uniforms. In an effort to combat the problem of jerseys constantly becoming untucked, Adidas started to place silicone in the waistbands of the shorts, thereby creating a tighter fit. With Nike now the producer of uniforms in the league, the silicone has remained, which suggests that the innovation has indeed been useful.

Can you be fined for not tucking in your jersey in the NBA?

To date there has been no case where a player has been fined for untucking their jerseys, but we’ve seen cases where they’ve been fined for removing their jersey completely. Take for example the case of Udonis Haslem back in 2006. Haslem was fined $5,000 for removing his jersey as he left the court. There was also Andrew Bynum in 2011, who was fined $25,000 for the same action. To be fair, the punishment of jersey removal is not only limited to basketball. In soccer players receive an automatic yellow card if they remove their jersey.