TR Robertson — Just like Baseball, professional basketball and football players have been known for a variety of superstitions to help them get ready for game day or activities they feel compelled to do each and every time before they are involved in some aspect of their sport. Some of these superstitions take place in locker rooms, others take place in full view of the crowd or on the bench.
One very noticeable superstition or habit involves NBA basketball players when they are preparing to shoot a free throw. It compares to all the gyrations and routines baseball players go through before they settle into the batter’s box. For the NBA, each of them have a particular routine to relax themselves before they shoot, but this routine is always the same and if they did not do it they would feel very uncomfortable, therefore they have a belief that they must do the same thing each time to make their shot. One player who did not follow this pattern was Shaquille O’Neal. O’Neal was so bad a making free throws he chose to make slight changes to the way he shot them almost every time, hoping something would work for his accuracy and success. Here are just a few of the superstitions that became habits or routines for some of the players.
- One of the more famous superstitions belonged to Michael Jordan. Jordan would wear, for every game, his college basketball shorts from the University of North Carolina under his Chicago Bulls shorts. He made his Bulls shorts longer so you could not see the UNC shorts.
- Caron Butler would drink half a two-liter bottle of Mountain Dew before each game and the other half at half time. This began during his high school days. When he began playing for the Washington Wizards, they told him he had to stop this.
- Another habit (superstition) he had was chewing straws. He would cut up straws from McDonald’s or Burger King. Teams he played for also told him he had to stop this.
- Jason Terry developed the superstition of sleeping in authentic game worn shorts of the team he was going to play the next day.
- LeBron James had a game time ritual of throwing chalk into the air and clapping before tipoff, something he is said to have taken from Kevin Garnett.
- James also is said to have developed special handshakes for every member of his team.
- When Kevin Garnett was with the Boston Celtics, he brought the ritual of every team member eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, either grape or strawberry, before every game.
- Ray Allan developed a routine he followed for every game. He would nap on game day from 11:30 to 1. He would then eat a chicken and rice meal at 2:30. He would shave his head, then prepare to walk out on the court at 3:30 where he would warm-up three hours before the game.
- Rip Hamilton, of the Chicago Bulls would take a shower immediately prior to entering on the court.
- Jeff Hornacek, of the Utah Jazz, would always wipe the side of his face three times before shooting a free throw.
- When he was not on the court, Mike Bibby would always clip his nails on the bench.
- Shaquille O’Neal always chewed 4 pieces of gum, wore two pairs of socks, and drove the same route to the arena every day.
Football fans are an unusual, highly loyal group, many becoming football fanatics. These folks also develop superstitious rituals they follow to ensure their team will rise to victory. These rituals cover a wide range of activities such as always sitting in the same spot on game day or always eating the same meal during a game. One of the most common rituals is wearing the same clothing on game day- jerseys, hats, socks, jackets – whatever will assure a victory. And if you team loses, that jersey or other item of clothing might be tossed in a pile for Good Will. Here are some of the superstitions of players past and present.
- Brian Urlacher, Chicago Bears, always ate chocolate chip cookies on game day provided by former Bears trainer Tim Bream.
- Emmanuel Sander played that day opponent on the “Madden” football video game.
- Luke Kuechly, Carolina Panthers, always ate Roasting Company Chicken and special sauce on game day.
- Tom Brady, New England Patriots, would warm up his receivers on a specific part of the football field where the sun would be in their eyes.
- Tom Brady has also worn the same shoulder pads since 1995 when he was a freshman at University of Michigan.
- Cam Newton had a pre-game ritual of wearing Under Armour shoes to warm up. These shoes were not allowed to be worn during the game.
- Cutis Martin, New York Jets, made sure he read Psalms 91 from his Bible on game day.
- John Henderson, Jacksonville Jaguars and Oakland Raiders, would have the trainer slap him hard in the face before the game.
- Marshawn Lynch, Raiders and Seattle Seahawks, is famously known for always eating Skittles during the game.
- Peyton Manning, Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos, was known for always sleeping in on game day.
- Bernie Fowler, New York Giants, would wear socks with NBA logos on them.
- Jake Elliott, Philadelphia Eagles, always ate a slice of piece and a slice of cheesecake the night before a game.
- Chris Thompson, Washington Redskins, would always have a game day breakfast of waffles with blueberries and raspberries, whipped cream, an omelet with bacon, peppers, cheese and avocado.
- Davante Adams had a game day breakfast of salmon salad with cucumber & shredded cheese with ranch dressing.
- Harrison Smith had a game day breakfast of a cup of coffee, half a plain bagel and a shot of Tabasco Sauce.
- Matt Bryant always had a chocolate milk shake on game day.
- Coach Ron Rivera’s wife always makes him cinnamon toast and ham and a peanut butter & oatmeal cookie on game day.
- The New Orleans Saints defensive line had a tradition of making a rookie take them to dinner on Thursday starting a Buffalo Wild Wings. If they lost that week’s game the next week, they would go to Wingstop and if they won that week, they would return the following week.
- Michael Dickson, Seattle Seahawks, made sure he always had a cup of coffee with chocolate milk on game day.
- Benardrick McKinney-Houston would always put his uniform on beginning with the left foot and left arm.
- Darius Leonard, Indianapolis Colts ate the same meal every Monday thru Friday – 2 scrambled eggs with cheese, a waffle, 2 turkey sausages, apple juice and a smoothie for breakfast. For lunch he would have 2 scoops of mashed potatoes and a piece of salmon.
- Chris Harris, Denver Broncos, always wore white socks up to his knees.
- Josh Jacobs of the Raiders always wore a necklace with the #8 hanging from it.
- Justin Tucker, Baltimore Ravens, lays all this uniform and equipment out on the floor to look like a person is in it.
These superstitions have become rituals for some, habits for others and traditions for many. Every athlete is looking for something to help them and their team have the best game they can possibly have. I suppose, if it works, keep doing it.