Handshakes On The Clock?

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Anyone lucky enough to get a seat in the lower bowl of most any NBA arena in the past decade has seen the show that players put on as they prepare for the opening tip.

From the mundane to the hilarious to the downright ridiculous, players have cooked up all sorts of handshake rituals that they go through before players from either side actually make it to center court for the official start of a game.

But what used to last for three and four minutes will now have to be completed in a curt 90 seconds, per a new league rule limiting the amount of time players have to hug, shadow box, frisk each other and Kid ‘n Play kick-step their way to the middle of the court. All of that pregame handshaking, chalk-tossing and pantomiming and picture-taking, well … you get the point.

After the 90-second countdown, on the game clock, and at 30 seconds there will be a horn that warns the players that time is almost up. The game officials will also get in on the party with a verbal warning and if a team isn’t ready for the opening tip at the end of those 90 seconds, they’ll be assessed a delay-of-game warning.

You get two of those and a technical foul will be called.

Some of the more notorious would-be abusers of the new, um, timed-ritual rule (we haven’t come up with a clever name for it just yet) have already let it be known that they’re not fans of this new policy. They’ve already noticed that their creativity can be curtailed by a stop watch, as the Oklahoman pointed out:

“Before Tuesday night’s preseason game against the Charlotte Bobcats at Chesapeake Energy Arena, Thunder players noticeably rushed their routines before stepping onto the court in time for the tip. Three-time scoring champ Kevin Durant was in the middle of his on-court greetings with teammates when the ball was put in play.

“I personally don’t like it,” Durant said of the 90-second rule. “Every player in this league has routines they do with their teammates, rituals they do before the game and before they walk on the floor. The fans like it. The fans enjoy it. You see the fans mimicking the guys who do their stuff before the game. To cut that down really don’t make no sense. Why would you do it? I really don’t agree with it, but I don’t make the rules.”

They certainly don’t make the rules. The dress code. The new ball (you remember that ill-fated test drive, don’t you?). The anti-flopping rule. The rule book/code of conduct grows by the season. That’s just the way it goes in a league that is constantly evolving, even after all of these years.

But the true artists will find a way to adjust and adapt to whatever new guidelines are thrown at them.

Heat star and reigning MVP LeBron James, whose elaborate rituals in Cleveland angered opposing players more than anyone, insists he will not be deterred by a little change to the rules.

“I won’t change it, I’ll be able to work it in,” James told Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com. “We’ll figure it out.”

His Heat teammate, Dwyane Wade, another superstar known for an extended set of pregame rituals that involve not only his teammates but he crowd at home games, doesn’t appear to be a fan but also doesn’t seem interested in fighting the powers that be on this one, telling ESPN.com:

“I’ll have to take something away for sure. I’m always going to make sure I show love to the fans. There’s so many rules, I can’t keep up. … There’s no reason to make a big stink. It’s their league, it’s their rules.”

Anything that steps on the toes of the creativity of the players always makes us nervous here at the hideout. We were cautiously optimistic that the dress code would usher in a suave new state of fashion affairs for players around the league and we all know how that’s turned out.

So the rules makers have to be careful with whatever changes they make.

But we can’t see a downside to this latest tweak.

We already have a shot clock.

A pregame ritual clock can’t hurt … can it?


  1. Merkin says:

    Instead of a delay of game warning, the refs should proceed w/ the jumpball and if one of the teams isn’t ready so be it.

  2. Chester says:

    Professionalism is certainly lacking in many areas of the NBA, this is just one that needs improvement. I agree with the above about too many timeouts. These blokes have been playing the game their whole adult life, i don’t think stopping and telling them what to do every couple of minutes is effiicient coaching. I liked the Phil Jackson style of coaching, where if his team was down by a big lead he would usually let the players play through it and figure it out for themselves. I think most of his coaching was done before the team stepped onto the court.

  3. @gahjet says:

    too much time wasted by these rituals anyway. Too much time wasted as it is with all these timeouts, commercials in the 4th quarter. I read once that somebody timed the last 5minutes of a game and it took 30minutes to finish. I know we all love Basketball here but we have other priorities too.

  4. Chris D says:

    I think that a rule like this is taking away from some of the fun things that make going to a game unique as opposed to watching it on Television. Many fans come early just to see some of the rituals and those fans claiming that they don’t miss it can either watch the games on T.V or show up a little later for live games. I hope a petition is created to show Stern our discontent towards this rule as fans. Fans and players are what makes the NBA the NBA, not David Stern.

    • Krista says:

      I agree with Chris. I watch the majority of the games on TV. On that rare moment that I get to actually go to a game, well, I want more than what I get to see at home. And yes, it is entertainment. Entertainment that I love and obsessed with, but I do know it is entertainment. The fans identify with entertainers not so much the “league”. The league should not cut off the hands that feeds it: fan/athlete enjoyment.

  5. 16going417 says:

    I think this is a stupid rule. If I pay big money for court side seats I would like to SEE what the players do before the game and I would like if a player runs by and slaps me a high five. I paid my money why shouldn’t I get to have that part of the experience as well.

    NBA is getting ridiculous with some of the rules they are coming up with. Let the players do what they need to do. Nuff said……..

  6. Karlo Garcia says:

    Why don’t the players go on the court 5 mins before tip off. I’m sure it will work. It’s EXTREME! We like 2 c (as fans) players PERSONALITIES!

  7. Jamal says:

    Looks like LeBron better keep the chalking to a minimum this year. lol

  8. J says:

    “To cut that down really don’t make no sense. ”

    Yea and when you talk like that of course it doesn’t make any sense to you. Leave the thinking to the smart folk, just dribble the ball.

  9. John Doe says:

    Well – let’s say if a player abuses it I would understand the rules. But taking away the show for the fans? Sounds stupid to me. Although I have to admit that I find 99% of the rituals players have just stupid as well.
    So just set the time the game starts – when you are not ready because of your ritual – you cannot play. Simple as that.

  10. Maniak15 says:

    Are David Stern and Roger Goddell related, stealing each others notes or went to the same commissioner school or something, because both of them are ruining thier leagues with all of these rules and regs! Some of these players have probably been doing these rituals as long as they’ve been playing the sport and it’s become a part of their persona to the fans. Next thing you know, no player can do anything out of the ordinary when shooting free throws, like Kidd blowing a kiss to the rim, Rip Hamilton bouncing the ball twice in front of him and the 3rd to his side, or KD does his little shimmey before he shoots…. let them be them. Yes it is a sport, but it is also entertainment. LET THEM ENTERTAIN!

  11. gp says:

    whatever man. Im just ready to for this season to get rollin! Go Cavs! (Growing pains but well be back).

  12. Bullsfan4liife says:

    Most players have rituals that they need to do to get ready for the game. It not just the pros in the NBA but people that all in every sport have their own pre-game routine. So as free adults the NBA should let the players get rady for the game in a way that they are comfortable with. However the NBA is right with one thing, LBJ needs to stop with the dancing.

  13. Bruno says:

    It’s sensible to me. Lebron needs to stop dancing. I totally agreed with Joakim Noah in the past. They’re grown men, not clowns.

    • Jamal says:

      Absolutely 100% agree with you! Jordan, Kobe, Duncan, they don’t or didn’t do that mess! There is wayyyy too much hotdogging than there used to be. LeBron’s an amazing talents but it’s all that silly dancing and “Look at me I’m LeBron James” antics which is why I can’t root for the guy.

      • Zach says:

        Actually all three of those guys have/had pregame rituals. Jordan used to put the powder on his hands and clap into johnny kerrs face. Duncan hangs on the rim during introductions, talks to his teammates, and hugs the ball. Kobe talks/hugs his teammates. I don’t think any of those guys rituals are excessive or go over the 90 seconds I’m just pointing out that yes they do have pregame rituals.

      • Kamote says:

        @ zach… there are pre-game rituals that are OK, like the group chant teams do to pump-up the players as a team. Kobe and Duncan talking to team mates as ritual??? Do you even play basketball??? Some players acknowledges some people before they play like MJ to Kerr (respect) and Miller to Spike Lee (hatred LOL). But these aren’t actually rituals until people notices them.

        LBJ’s case or some other’s dances are just calling for attention and just hogging the spotlight. LBJ’s powder thing is like watching HHH in WWE.

    • dd def says:

      get real man. it’s a game, it’s entertainment. it gets the fans and players pumped up and involved and interacting. god forbid people have fun beyond the age of 19. if you don’t want entertainment then don’t follow sports. i think you need to let that mustache grow in on the corners and loosen up buddy. god forbid sports be FUN and ENTERTAINING. real question is how many people felt, or were even aware, that this might possibly be something that needed to be handled?

  14. Tre says:

    Just another thing the NBA is doing to prevent the players from being individuals. What’s next? No listening to music before games? No long hair? No tattoos? We need a new Commissioner. Someone younger and who can relate to young men.

  15. Tony says:

    Ok, someone tell me how the fasion thing worked out… Cuz im clueless

  16. MR. BOB says:

    people come to games or watch games on tv because of the players. for smart businessmen the owners and mr. genus srearn seem very clusless. 4 minutes of player antics, 40 minutes of commercials???? of course commercials pay good money, but no one comes to see commercials! without players there are no commercials. cut the 2 mins from the commercials, let the players do their thing,keep the fans happy and keep the bucks flowing, GET IT STUPID!!!

  17. Mac-e says:

    They’re clamping down on players like kids. Let them do their thing, they’re making the money the league needs anyway. leave the players alone.

  18. Ted says:

    I don’t get this either. if it interferes with the start of the game tell the players to start earlier.

  19. Manu says:

    About time, there’s nothing more boring than players clowning around before tip-off.

    • CryBabies says:

      Yeah boring to people who aren’t real fans. I love pre-game rituals, and I’d say most GUYS don’t have a problem with it. Sissy do.

      • What? says:

        The guy that doesn’t want to watch players’ pre-game dancing and would rather get to the action of the game is a sissy? I don’t have a problem with it myself, but you can come up with something better than that.

      • Kamote says:

        oh, so people who would rather watch basketball and not really care on dance numbers are sissies? what happened to this generation? LOL

  20. Jerry says:

    ridiculous, who cares!!! NBA is a show and pregame dancing is part of that show

  21. Chester says:

    i think nba games take way too long as it is, i mean a 48 minute game takes over 2 hours. its ridiculous. i know its all about advertising dollars. maybe its an American thing to put up with the all the stoppages in their sports. as an aussie its hard to sit through all the ads and unnecessary timeouts. nfl is even worse. so anything they can do to get it moving is fine with me

    • CryBabies says:

      Geez people are so friggin greedy and selfish. The world doesn’t revolve around what you want. Stop whining. Personally I’m glad I get 2 hours of sports rather than a quick hour. Stop complaining.

  22. amitpal says:

    Ok can someone please kick out david stern. I mean hes treating all these players like kids with all these rules. The nba is from professional basketball tl like boot camp or privite chool or something

  23. Willy says:

    Don’t understand it because we really don’t see it on TV? Start it earlier? Get ti done before the intro, got to be good for the fans. Who was it hurting, TV sponsors? Keep the game for the fans man!