Why Do NBA Players Tuck In Their Jerseys?

Have you ever seen an NBA player with an untucked jersey?

Did it feel weird? Probably because we’re so used to seeing them tucked in all the time.

But why exactly do they do this?

According to NBA rules, players must tuck in their jerseys when entering the game. Otherwise, they can be called for delay of the game, and the opposing team may be rewarded a free throw.

In fact, this has happened before, and it was all thanks to Chis Paul’s veteran move.

Why do NBA Players Tuck in their Jerseys?

You may have been watching the NBA for a long time, but you haven’t seen a player on the court with an untucked jersey, right?

That’s because there are reasons for it, mainly because it’s in the rulebook. So, here are the reasons why jerseys should always be tucked in:

1. Because it’s in the rule book

The NBA’s rulebook states, “A substitute must be ready to enter the game when beckoned. No delays for removal of warm-up clothing will be permitted.”

Although it’s not explicitly stated that untucked jerseys are against the rules, it is part of it.

Before a player enters the game, he must be ready for his clothing. This means that:

  • He shouldn’t have his warmup clothes, but his jersey on
  • His jersey should be tucked in
  • Shoes shall be tied

A player must be ready to play once he’s on the court. If not, there are warnings and a penalty that can occur.  

2. As it’s a safety hazard

There’s no reason in the rulebook why players’ jerseys must be tucked in.

But if you’ve played any professional basketball, most leagues will tell you to tuck in your jersey. It’s because it can be a safety hazard.

Just imagine a player with an untucked jersey jumping for a rebound and another getting his finger stuck inside that shirt. It can result in inconveniences and, worst – injuries.

This is also why professional basketball leagues don’t allow players to wear shorts with pockets while playing.

3. To look professional

As part of the NBA dress code, players must observe what they wear at an NBA game.

Even if they’re watching from the bench, you’ll notice that they often wear coats, pants, and dress shoes.

So, if the NBA emphasizes this dress code on these occasions, how much more for a game?

That’s why to look uniform and professional, players must always keep their jerseys tucked.

Untucked jerseys would look out of place, as it’s something that’s only done in streetball.

What Happens When a Jersey Gets Untucked in a Game?

You might think people won’t care if a player has an untucked jersey. But that’s not true in the NBA.

The NBA is the highest basketball league in the world, so they make it a point to abide by their rules.

As such, if a player goes into the game with an untucked shirt, he might receive a warning or a technical foul for delay of the game.  

In fact, that’s precisely what happened in a close game between Oklahoma City Thunder and Minnesota Timberwolves in 2019. An untucked jersey by a Wolves player basically cost them the game!

The Wolves were up by two points with Karl Anthony-Towns at the free-throw line. But when the Wolves’ Jordan Bell was subbed in the game with an untucked jersey, Chris Paul saw this and told the referee.

They then called a technical foul, and the Thunder was awarded one free throw. Then, Schroeder scored a layup with a few seconds left to send the game to overtime.

The Thunder won the game, but if it weren’t for the untucked shirt and Paul’s veteran move, they didn’t have had a chance.

Other Jersey Rules in the NBA

Aside from the jersey being tucked at all times, players must follow other jersey rules in the NBA.

Here are they:

  • Teams must wear alternating colors during a game, one for home and the other for away
  • Players can select any jersey number except for obscene ones like 69
  • Players can’t wear an undershirt unless they have a medical reason

Basically, jerseys are the uniforms of NBA players while inside the court. So, the NBA is strict on these rules.

As evidence, they’ve banned a lot of accessories on the court over the years. These include the Supreme shooting sleeve, the du-rag, the black mask, and the ninja headband.

Final Thoughts

NBA players have no choice but to tuck in their jerseys when playing. Aside from being in the rules, it can be a safety hazard for everyone.

Plus, they look more professional since their jerseys are their uniforms on the court.  

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