What Are The Differences Between Streetball and Basketball?

Is streetball and basketball the same? Are they just different on the court they’re played?

Streetball is a basketball game typically played outdoors. Street ballers focus more on flashy moves, free play style and incredible dunks. On the other hand, an official basketball game is more organized, team-oriented and riddled with rules.

But they have more differences than you might think. Find out what makes them different in aspects like players, court, rules, physicality and score below.

Streetball vs. Basketball Definitions

Streetball is a type of basketball game typically played outdoors. They can be played by random people teaming up which is also called a pickup game.

They’re usually played in asphalt courts at the park, at a backyard or on the street. These games are usually unofficial or for recreational purposes only.

On the other hand, basketball refers to an official game played usually in an indoor court. The biggest difference between organized basketball and streetball is that the former has rules and officials.

What are the Differences Between Streetball and Basketball?

Although both are the same sport, there are some differences in the way they’re played. In this section, we’ll talk about those differences and how they can affect each game.


One of the most obvious differences between streetball and basketball is the court they’re played in. Typically, a streetball is played outdoors on concrete or asphalt. They can be set up in a backyard, in the street or at the local park.

But official basketball games are almost always played indoors in a hardwood floor.

Obviously, most players would want to play in indoor courts where there’s a roof and the floors are perfect. But since indoor courts aren’t always available and they cost a lot to rent, outdoor courts are popular.

When it comes to comfort, obviously playing indoors is safer and more comfortable. You’ll hear more shoes squeaking which means they won’t slid easily.

You’ll also notice that the rims on streetball courts usually don’t have shot clocks or even have double rims. On the other hand, indoor courts which are used for official games all have the best equipment.


Streetball doesn’t really follow all the rules. The players usually call their own fouls and violations if they’re obvious.

There are no referees in streetball since they’re not playing an official game. So, rules are usually an afterthought and more of a hindrance in the game.

There’s no referee to call a foul so players would get hit hard a lot of times. This usually results in a lot of trash talking and can even lead to brawls.

On the other hand, an organized basketball game will always have rules and referees to impose them.

If you’re wondering why there aren’t referees on streetball games, it’s because they’re not free. Also, players are just there to play with friends and not because it’s an official game.

So, in contrast, an official basketball game will always have officials to conduct the game since they’re part of a league.


Streetball is a game that’s played randomly in an outdoor court. As such, anyone can play and they form a team of five or any variations of it.

The players have some experience in playing basketball but there can also be beginners who are still learning. The point is, the players aren’t usually professionals so they can’t be compared to the big leagues.

On the other hand, professional games are played by amateur and professional players. These players are usually part of a school, league, or a basketball organization.

As such, they’re much more skilled and more disciplined in running plays and competing.

On the other hand, streetball celebrates individuality more as these are games where players can showcase their individual skills. Here, you’ll usually see players dribbling their hearts out, crossing people and dunking hard.


In a streetball game, the players themselves usually just keep track of the score. As such, there can be a lot of arguments here and there as to what the actual score is.

For the most part, streetball players don’t usually concern themselves with the scores. They just want to play so there’s not much a punishment if they lose unless they bet money.

But for an official game, their team standing is always on the line when they’re playing. There are also official scorekeepers and a scoreboard to see the scores of the teams.


When you’re playing streetball, there’s no time limit. There’s no 24-second shot clock that provides each team equal opportunities to score.

Instead, they usually decide the winner on who reaches a particular score first. For instance, they can play a game up to 21 and whoever scores 21 points first wins.

Sometimes, players would even stop playing when they’re tired. On a professional basketball game, players are substituted throughout the game.

Also on an official basketball game, a game can be 40 minutes for NCAA or 48 minutes for most leagues.

They also follow 24 second shot clock rules, 8 second violations, defensive & offensive 3 second violations and so on.


As mentioned above, streetball players usually don’t call fouls easily. As a result, they become more physical as they try to score.

Plus, you’ll be seen as “soft” if you try to call fouls every so often in a streetball game. So, most players just strengthen their body and hope for the best when driving through the hoop.

On the other hand, a basketball game is governed by rules of the league and officials enforcing them. So obviously it’s less physical than a streetball game but there are still contact involved.

Plus, a lot of players can afford to flop since there are referees that can be fooled.


Streetball games are just for fun and practice. As such, there aren’t any incentive for players to get serious like it’s the NBA finals.

But occasionally, they may bet on some money which would make the game more interesting.

But for amateur and professional leagues, there are always rewards from monetary to recognition. Plus, a lot of players in these leagues are trying to go pro as their career.

Streetball vs. Organized Basketball – Which is Better?

Both streetball and organized basketball is the same sport. They’re just different in the way they’re played.

Streetball is more on dribbling, flashy moves, and incredible dunks. Team play isn’t the priority as they’re playing to put on a show.

But today, the two types of basketball have been fused into one in most leagues. You’ll see guys like Kyrie Irving break the ankles of the defenders and Curry shooting ridiculous threes.

This is because a lot of professional players today played a lot of streetball in the past when they were kids. Even NBA players today go back to their towns and play occasionally.

But as good as street ball is, professional players won’t fully play with street ball moves in the pro leagues. Because a lot of streetball moves can be called carrying and traveling.

Finally, it would be good to experience the two types of basketball as early as you are. This would let a player blossom as they learn from different courts, rules, situations, and opponents.

Best NBA Street Ballers in History

The NBA has always been a professional league. But when a few popular street ballers stormed the league, they changed the game for good.

Here are the best street ballers in NBA history:

1. Allen Iverson

A hall of famer, MVP, and an All-Star, Allen Iverson popularized streetball in the NBA. His flashy moves that would put defenders to sleep despite his small size was never seen before.

He has unending moves under his belt, and he even gave a lot of trouble to Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan.

But apart from his plays on the court, his attitude and upbringing were truly from the streets. He popularized the hip hop culture with tattoos and loose fashion.

2. Jamal Crawford   

When you think of crossovers, Jamal Crawford should always be on that list. The man created a lot of moves most famously the shake-and-bake.

In that move, he would hop around the defender and put the ball in his back to confuse and freeze them. That move is so shocking that a defender won’t be able to know what hit them.

3. Jason Williams

Nicknamed the “White Chocolate”, he was most known for his free play style. He would send difficult cross-court passes and crossing everybody on the way to the rim.

His most iconic moment came in the 2000 NBA All-Star game where he would do a behind-the-back elbow pass. That pass was so ridiculous that the defenders didn’t have a choice but to foul his teammate.


Are pickup games the same as streetball?

They’re similar but pickup games can be played on the streets or on an indoor court. The definition of pickup game is a game that’s started by random people teaming up together to play.

But streetball is more of a culture and a way to describe games played on streets.

Can you travel in streetball?

No, you can’t travel in streetball. Even if streetball games have lax rules, you can’t just walk your way to the court without dribbling even once. However, less obvious travels may not be called since there aren’t officials.

This means that there more uncalled fouls and violations on streetball than in an official basketball game.

How many players can play in street ball?

In streetball, players can go 1 vs 1 up to 5 vs. 5. But on an official basketball game, each team always need 5 players each.


Streetball and organized basketball are one and the same. But they’re different in the way they’re played, where they’re played and the players who play in them.

In the end, as long as a player scores, that’s all that matters.

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