They say that superstitions can bring good luck, but they also have a way of enslaving you. Superstitions are typically born out of a particular routine or method that brings about an extraordinary amount of good luck. Maybe it is the way that they dressed one day, a meal that they ate, or something that they did, but whatever they did, it happened to lead to an inordinate amount of success. Athletes always look for ways to reduplicate an epic performance, even if it means that they do something completely unreasonable, irrational, and totally unrelated to the game that they are playing.
As long as the action performed leads to success, players will do anything it takes to re-enact what happened before. And before they know it, they are addicted and almost OCD in the way that they mentally approach the game. Even if a particular act may be more burdensome than helpful, they bring a peace of mind to superstitious players that will do whatever it takes to maintain their feng shui. In fact, often times, when players change their routine or are not allowed to perform their superstitious deed for the day, it often mentally affects players in a negative way. This is why players will do whatever it takes to keep their mentally sanity, even if it means doing something insane.
This is the power of superstitions. They hold a grip on players so strongly that they have a difficult time disobeying it. It just goes to show how all people are creatures of habit. Once you start doing something long enough, it is difficult to change, even if what we are doing is more of a detriment to us than an aid. The following is a list of the Top-10 most superstitious players who have some of the quirkiest routines in NBA history.
10. Kevin Garnett – PB&J’s
Before every game, Kevin Garnett eats a peanut butter and jelly sandwiches one hour prior to tipoff. Most players do not eat anything that close to game time because of the possibility of throwing up, but Garnett’s ritual pretty much went viral with the entire Boston Celtics team. Soon enough, even Rajon Rondo was chowing down on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches before game time; a ritual that he still keeps to this day. Maybe this was the secret for Garnett’s high rpm levels during the game.
9. Michael Jordan – Tarheel Shorts
You want to know how Michael Jordan introduced longer shorts to the game of basketball? It is because he was superstitious, not fashionable. Jordan wore his University of North Carolina shorts underneath his Chicago Bulls shorts for every game. The Tarheels shorts were much shorter than they are today, so Jordan just needed a pair of shorts that were a little bit longer to cover the Carolina blue up. Sounds a bit weird and uncomfortable that a player would wear two pairs of shorts while playing basketball, but when you think about the type of career he had, maybe more players ought to be wearing two pairs of shorts instead of just one.
8. Jeff Honacek – Wiping the Right Side of His Face 3 Times
Many NBA players have a routine whenever they step up to the free throw line, but there is probably no player in the league who has as famous of a superstitious routine than Jeff Hornacek. Every time the Utah Jazz shooting guard stepped up to the line, he wiped the right side of his face three times before he shot the ball. It might sound a little strange to some, that is until you hear that Hornacek was a career 87% free throw shooter his entire career. In fact, in his last season in the NBA, Hornacek sank 95% from the free throw line.
7. Shaquille O’Neal – Gum and Socks
You want to know why Shaquille O’Neal was so bad at free throws? While, most players have a set routine every time they get to the free throw line, Shaq’s superstition was never doing the same thing twice whenever he missed a free throw. So, every time the 50% free throw shooter got to the line and missed a free throw, he would either change his footing, change the way he held the ball, or change the way that he released his shot. His mentality was that what he was doing before brought him bad luck and the he needed to do something else to bring about good luck. Shaq also chewed on 4 pieces of gum before every game and then he had to put it underneath his seat on the bench. He also wore 2 pairs of socks for every game and drove on the same streets to the arena every time he had a game.
6. LeBron James – Secret Handshakes
LeBron James has several superstitious things that he does every time he has a game, including rubbing chalk on his hands and throwing the powder into the air; a tradition that other players such as Kevin Garnett and Michael Jordan have also done. However, his most personalized superstitions were his secret handshakes with every player on his team. James has different handshakes for every player on his team and he does them with each player before game time. James already has a lot on his mind when he has to game plan, so the fact that he memorizes all of these handshakes as well is remarkable.
5. Ray Allen – Routine Schedule
Ray Allen has not eaten a hamburger since he was 14-years old. He is one of the best players in the NBA at taking care of his body. Just look at the aging veteran’s body right now, he hardly has any body fat on him. The reason for this is because of Allen’s robotic mentality. Every day Allen takes a pre-game nap from 11:30am to 1pm. After his nap he eats chicken and rice at 2:30pm. After that he shaves his head at 3:30pm. And after that he warms-up for 3 hours prior to each game. Having a set routine is helpful for every player, but Allen’s mechanical approach to the game is at a totally different level.
4. Rajon Rondo – 5 Hot Showers on Game Day
Most players take a shower after the game, not before it. But Rajon Rondo likes to shower before each game, and not just once, but five times on game day. Rondo’s level of hygiene is to be commended, but this is at an OCD level. Showers have the capability of waking us all up, but showering five times on game day, is not only a waste of water, but totally non-sensical.
3. Darrell Armstrong – Coffee With 7 Packets of Sugar
Darrell Armstrong’s primary role off the bench was to bring energy and defense. Ask any bench player in the league and they will tell you that it is difficult to enter into a game off the bench with the same amount of energy that the starters have built up from tip-off, but that is what Armstrong was asked to do on a nightly basis. And the way that he did that was by drinking coffee with seven packs of sugar in it. It is no wonder Armstrong always looked like a hyper kid on the night of Halloween. He was running around like a chicken with its head cut off because of all the sugar he had in his system.
2. Jason Terry – Opponent’s Shorts
Jason Terry is one of the most well connected players in the league. The proof? Terry gets the game shorts of all of his opponents and wears their shorts the night before he plays them. It is one thing to wear a replica of his opponent’s shorts, but Terry has to wear the literal shorts that his opponents wore. So, whether it is by asking the player’s themselves or by talking to some of the people that work for the team, Terry always makes sure that he is connected to his opponents. For Terry, it helps him to keep focused on his opponent the night before he plays them.
1. Caron Butler – Mountain Dew and McDonald’s Straws
Caron Butler’s superstitious actions were so bad that he was banned from performing them out of health concerns. Prior to every game, Butler would drink half a 2-liter bottle of Mountain Dew and then at halftime, he would drink the other half of it. Butler also took 12 pieces of straw from McDonald’s or Burger King, and would chew on the bench during the middle of the game. Sometimes he would cut the straws up and chew on them or he would just work his way down the straw. The unusual part? He would never chew on straws from Wendy’s, just McDonald’s and Burger King. Maybe he was just a loyal customer.