The NBA is one of the biggest and most popular sports leagues in the world. The concept is simple. Two professional basketball teams face off and try to outscore the other. This leads to excitement and drama, but occasionally not everything goes to plan. In fact, basketball’s top league sometimes provides some of the strangest moments in sports.
Today, we’ll take a look at 30 NBA fans’ personal experiences. These fans revealed some of the strangest things they saw on a basketball court. Some moments are bizarre, while others are just plain cringe-worthy. But they are all extremely entertaining parts of NBA history. Check out the list below via Reddit and Sportskeeda.
30. The Bat Game
It was 2009 and the San Antonio Spurs were playing the Sacramento Kings. Suddenly, a real bat swooped down onto the court. Nobody in the AT&T Center knew what was going on, but one man stepped up to the plate. Manu Ginobili instantly entered NBA folklore after he nailed the bat with a swat of his giant paw. Later, an NBA fan reminisced on Reddit about his memory of the game.
Alphadestrious wrote, “I remember after the game Manu received several shots to make sure he didn’t ‘catch’ anything from the bat.” This was one of the strangest interceptions in the history of the sport but it didn’t faze Ginobili one bit. Furthermore, it was Halloween too which made the event all the more surreal. In the end, the Argentine dumped the bat in a bin. Nothing fazed him.
One NBA fan revealed the strangest incident he ever saw occurred in 1994. It involved the controversial Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf and Calvin Murphy, two of the most prolific shooters of all-time. Abdul-Rauf was on course to break Calvin Murphy’s all-time free throw percentage record. He successfully made one shot and was just one away from securing the record for himself.
TheGreatChatsby wrote on Reddit, “Murphy (the current record holder) was actually in the front row and then requested the ball from the referee. And then the referee actually gave it to him?! Then he weirdly rubbed the ball and gave it back. And then Abdul-Rauf missed the free throw.” It was definitely one of the strangest moments in the history of the league and one that remains perplexing to this day.
“This is recent enough but watching NBA players try to retrieve a shirt stuck on the backboard was pretty weird,” Hdlsa wrote. This strangest of occurrences happened back in 2015 when a t-shirt cannon released its contents with unforeseen consequences. The L.A. Clippers were playing Orlando when one of the Clippers’ cheerleaders fired a t-shirt straight into the backboard. This didn’t help the game at all.
It became a major ordeal to remove the t-shirt. Glen Davis made an especially valiant effort to try and remove it but failed miserably. Finally, after “Big Baby” gave up, Spencer Hawes stepped up to the plate. Thousands watched as he removed the rogue t-shirt with a broom. At the end of the day, it doesn’t take much to entertain people. This t-shirt was entertainment value for what it cost.
The Oklahoma City Thunder were playing the Denver Nuggets in 2019 when one of the strangest moments of the season occurred. Russell Westbrook stepped off of the court for a moment when he felt a shove in his back. The Thunder star turned around and saw a young boy was the perpetrator. Then, in a surreal moment, he scolded the boy as his father sat and watched. The commentators thought that he was apologizing but a replay showed differently.
“The little boy’s daddy face said it all,” one fan in attendance said. “His face got so red, then security came over and talked to them. Enjoy the game, keep your hands to yourself.” Later, fans reacted to the moment. Some thought that the boy was just overexcited and wanted to touch the superstar. Others accused the father of being a bad parent. But the funniest responses told the boy to be careful of James Harden.
In one of the strangest basketball moments he ever experienced. Skunksauce wrote, “I swear I remember a game in the late ’90s (probably a Sunday afternoon game) in LA where a Lakers fan somehow brought a saxophone into the arena and played a note that sounded just like the end of the quarter horn going off about 3 seconds before the quarter ended.”
This is an incredibly obscure memory. There isn’t much information about the incident available but it’s not the only time fans brought unwanted musical instruments into games. However, security removes audience members if they see them blowing whistles or disrupting the game in any way. A saxophone brings this to the next level, however. Was the perpetrator a Jazz fan?
“No video, on mobile, but back in the ’90s, J.R. Rider got ejected from a game and refused to leave,” Reluctantbadass wrote. “Just say down in the middle of the court. His mom came down out of the stands, onto the court, and yelled at him until he left. Super crazy.” Clearly this was one of the strangest moments in the history of the NBA and Rider was a central figure.
As the fan says, there is very little evidence to support this, but it is definitely a great story. Rider was a fantastic player and also a volatile character. It’s unusual for a grown man to behave in this way because they are throwing away their dignity. Meanwhile, audience members are close to the game during NBA events so it’s not inconceivable that his mother was able to do this.
“This was one of the worst advertisements for Nike I ever saw,” one NBA fan observed after this game. Ginobili makes our list for the second time because of an exploding shoe. The San Antonio Spurs played the Detroit Pistons in an ultimately meaningless game back in 2014. The fact that this was the most memorable moment says a lot about it.
The Spurs star was guarding Rodney Stuckley when the iconic moment occurred. Suddenly, he stumbled and almost took down his own player. His sock was clearly visible because his entire foot came through the shoe. Then he sheepishly trudged off the court to replace his faulty footwear. To be fair, he was lucky because he could easily have injured his ankle. He changed shoe brands after this incident.
The Denver Nuggets were playing the Lakers in a 2012 playoff game when this moment occurred. A woman burst onto the court and attempted to approach Ty Lawson in the midgame. However, security prevented her from touching the NBA star. But the strangest part was that she was trying to find Kenyon Martin who no longer played for the Nuggets. Eventually police arrested the stalker.
“I was at that game and everyone was so confused as to what was going on,” Thisguy012 wrote. “Also, the refs in that game were so biased that the whole crowd was screaming these refs suck. Then they still sucked with 30 secs remaining and we lost.” In the end, nobody with a Denver connection left that game with happiness in their hearts. This was certainly a weird game.
“I was there that time the referee rode Derek Fisher like a Shetland,” JoegrizzyII wrote on Reddit. This remains a deeply confusing image. In 2014, Oklahoma City played the San Antonio Spurs. This game is unremarkable apart from a single incident. In 17 seasons in the NBA, Fisher never expected to be the subject of ridicule in the manner he came to be.
There was an extended timeout where the officials examined a jump ball call. Somehow, beyond the knowledge of anybody present, the referee ended up sitting on Fisher’s back in a most unfortunate manner. Then, it became the subject of a famous YouTube remix set to Ginuwine’s ‘Pony’ as a backing track. In the end, the Thunder won the game but Fisher’s moment with the ref was the main story.
“Fergie’s national anthem was literally nails on a chalkboard bad,” DTttfu observed after the NBA All-Star Game in 2018. The Black Eyed Peas superstar performed at the showpiece event but mangled the iconic song. There is nothing good to say about this rendition apart from the fact that it ended and nobody died. It was bad enough on TV, but imagine listening to it live?
Furthermore, Fergie even apologized after the game because she knew she messed up. It was unfortunate because this was supposed to be a moment for her to show off her talent in front of the nation. However, that is not what happened and in the end, it became the subject of permanent mockery. To be fair, very few singers succeed with this song, but this was one of the worst attempts ever.
Tracy McGrady endured a rush of blood in 2004 as he decided to boot the ball out twice. “I remember that like it was yesterday,” Reddit user ForNOreason100 reminisced. “He booted the living hell out of those balls. Got a tech for the first kick. Got a tech and ejection after the second. He literally gave zero f**ks.” That sums up McGrady very succinctly because he didn’t care.
However, it may have provided the impetus for the Orlando Magic to win the game over the Denver Nuggets. Carmelo Anthony scored 35 points for the Nuggets but it wasn’t enough. McGrady’s moment of passion fired up his teammates and they were unstoppable throughout this game. Meanwhile, it was a massive night for McGrady because he also reached 10,000 points on the same night.
“Watched this bad boy live. was so confused,” Chitalian8 wrote on Reddit about one of the strangest incidents in NBA history. Taj Gibson was responsible for a bizarre piece of improvisation where he attempted to block a shot with his shoe. This moment occurred during the Minnesota Timberwolves game against the Sacramento Kings. Minnesota won 132-105 but that wasn’t the main takeaway from this match.
Gibson’s shoe fell off but he didn’t give up on his job. He ran with a single shoe on his foot in an attempt to guard Nemanja Bjelica. As Bjelica attempted to shoot, Gibson attempted to deflect the effort with the shoe. In the end, he didn’t make contact and Karl-Anthony Towns blocked the shot. If he did, the officials would have cited him for interference with a foreign object, but it was hilarious.
“Way back when Kidd was originally on the Mavericks he stole the ball and jumped over Jamal Mashburn for a layup who was laying their (sic) hurt instead of calling a timeout,” Dodadoof wrote. “Pretty sure they hated each other.” This commentator was definitely correct because they truly disliked each other. The Dallas Mavericks had one of the most exciting forward lines in the game back in 1996.
Kidd, Mashburn, and Jim Jackson were the three men in question. However, R&B singer Toni Braxton allegedly came between them. Legend has it that she arrived at a hotel for a date with Kidd and left with Jackson. Meanwhile, their relationship with Mashburn deteriorated as he continued to suffer injuries. In the end, it turned out to be a huge miss for the franchise.
“When referee Joey Crawford pushed Damon Jones out of bounds and called a foul on Chauncey Billups,” Crabdribble wrote. “That was wild.” Referees make mistakes because they are humans. In an ideal world, their decisions are without bias and keep players safe. However, in one of the strangest officiating moments, Crawford actually shoved Jones out of play. This was out of the ordinary because referees shouldn’t put their hands on players.
Nobody quite believed what they witnessed. It was the 2005 Eastern Conference finals and the Miami Heat were up against the Detroit Pistons. Meanwhile, the Heat attempted to pull off a big comeback and Crawford decided to get involved. First, he bodychecked Jones, and then, to the player’s indignation, he called the foul on Billups. It made no sense and he received a heap of criticism for it.
“Did anybody see the Sixers game where the refs started the teams out going the wrong way, then 20 seconds in they go up to the scorer’s table and literally restart the game?” Juco818 wrote.”That was hilarious.” It was actually 16 seconds but the error remains the same. Philadelphia were playing the Timberwolves in 2014 when this weird moment happened to the audience’s confusion, causing the strangest of starts.
Henry Sims was just about to take a free throw when referee Zach Zarba stopped the game. After a brief conference with the officials, they determined the teams were shooting in the wrong direction. Luckily, the game was only seconds in and scoreless. But this was still a bad error to make at the highest level of the sport. Zarba had egg on his face yet breathed a sigh of relief in the end.
2014 was the year of technical errors. One of the strangest occurred in the Air Canada Centre in a game between the Toronto Raptors and the Brooklyn Nets. In the third quarter, the shot clock malfunctioned and proved unrepairable. Finally, the announcer took on the responsibility of counting down the time. Meanwhile, an official used a stopwatch to keep track.
“They said it was because some ESPN guy accidentally blew a fuse or something, “Drthurgood wrote. “Still pretty ridiculous that they couldn’t get it fixed though. I was also disappointed that the fans didn’t take advantage and start counting down falsely to either get Brooklyn to rush their shots or get 24-second violations like that college team did last year.”
Ochris said, “I’ll bring up the time that the fireworks set off one of the huge water cannons in the Alamodome at the beginning of a Spurs game. Unloaded tons of water and obviously delayed the game for a while.” Everybody in attendance at that game remembers it as if it were yesterday. The Spurs hosted the Golden State Warriors but lost their homecoming game.
Meanwhile, to add insult to injury, the crowd endured a 50-minute delay because fireworks kicked off the watercannon. First of all, it unleashed an onslaught of water upon the crowd, soaking thousands of them. Then the clean-up took a substantial chunk of time to finish. It was definitely one of the strangest crowd experiences ever and not one fans wanted to repeat.
“That one time where a sixth player sneaked onto the court to play and no one caught him, “Ohhlookathat said. This was a real moment that occurred in 1993 in a game between the Houston Rockets and the Seattle Supersonics. Seattle led 101-100 with about 15 seconds left in overtime. But the Rockets had a secret weapon unbeknownst to everybody in the stadium.
One of Houston’s most obscure players, Winston Garland, duly hopped up from the bench and walked onto the court. Then, he stood in the corner and waited for the pass. The Rockets had the opportunity for a shot but missed. Garland didn’t get involved in the play but he spoke to the oblivious referee and told him it should be a Houston ball. It became one of the strangest footnotes in NBA history.
NBA games are obviously played in indoor stadiums on wooden floors. Fans take it for granted that the floor is dry and safe for players to run on. A wet, slippery floor is obviously not ideal for gigantic athletes because they could seriously injure themselves. In 2010, Orlando and Miami were set for an exhibition game but canceled it because of the conditions.
The wet floor was impossible to play on but it disappointed a lot of fans. “It happened at a preseason Magic/Heat game back when the Big 3 first formed,” thisguy012 said. “Played it at the Forum in Tampa and the floor was too slippery. We were sitting in the stands when they announced the game was canceled, never been so p***ed in my life.” At the end of the day, player safety comes first.
In 2013, a young Cleveland fan named James Blair ran onto the court to confront the Miami Heat’s LeBron James. This was obviously never going to end well for him, but it could have been worse. He wore a t-shirt with the slogan, “We Miss You 2014” emblazoned on it. The Cavs banned him for life but rescinded it after they re-signed James a year later. In short, Blair got away with the strangest court invasion ever.
GhostdadUC was in attendance on the day but one aspect of the moment annoys him. “I hate when people say that this played a major part in his decision,” he said. “It had absolutely no outcome on his decision at all and it embarrassed me that they lifted his lifetime ban, that this happened.” He’s correct because James definitely didn’t care what that fan thought while making a decision.
“This was actually hella weird,” JohnnyJonesIII said. “It was like everyone collectively decided to not give a f**k like “Melo does this all the time, don’t worry about him, he’ll get up sooner or later.” In sum, this Reddit user was absolutely correct about this strangest of moments. It was also one of the worst examples of NBA officiating ever witnessed in the league.
Denver played the Oklahoma City Thunder when Anthony squared off against Kevin Durant. He crashed into him and the play went on after the referee called him for traveling. Anthony lay prone on the ground but play continued around him. The referee and other officials ignored him for reasons known only to themselves. In the end, Anthony rose to his feet and continued to play.
“I don’t know if this was caught on film, but I was at an Atlanta Hawks game a few years ago when the actual hawk they usually bring in pre-game to hype up the crowd strayed from its owner during the game and was flying above the court while the game was being played. At one point it was actually perched on one of the shot clocks, just chilling there. I was afraid it was gonna get hit by a stray ball or something.”
Reddit user DontCareWhatYouThink sums up exactly what happened when Spirit the Hawk decided to become a diva. The Zoo Atlanta star refused to return to its trainer and perched on top of the Hawks basket. This was the first game of Miami and Atlanta’s playoff series but nobody expected this. In the end, John Elmore managed to convince the bird to come to him to cheers from the crowd.
“Vince slapped Mo Pete mid-game after VC’s trade, it was a playful slap,” Robotusson wrote. “Mo Pete reciprocated and the ref saw this then proceeded to eject Mo Pete.” This describes a clash between Vince Carter and Morris Peterson in 2006. The former teammates met on opposite sides of the court when the Toronto Raptors faced off against the New Jersey Nets. It became the strangest of reunions.
Carter playfully slapped Peterson on the face to provoke a reaction from his old friend. It worked because it clearly irritated Peterson. He returned the favor, but unfortunately for him, he slapped Carter in front of the referee. The official missed Carter’s slap but had a full view of Peterson’s effort and duly ejected him from the game. It’s definitely one of the strangest sequences of events fans witnessed at an NBA game.
“Remember when the ref ejected Tim Duncan for laughing?”iDemi_God said. This was one of the strangest officiating decisions we’ve seen in the NBA because it was outrageous. The man in the middle was the infamous Joey Crawford, whose penchant for dubious calls is well-documented. This one saw Duncan receive the only ejection of his glittering career because he laughed at the wrong time.
Duncan had a run-in with the referee during the game because he disagreed with one of Crawford’s calls. Later, the referee saw him laughing as he sat on the bench and assumed that it was directed at him. Crawford’s reaction was to dismiss him from the game entirely, much to the confusion of the watching crowd. The league suspended Crawford and he admitted fault for the incident.
“A fan collapsed and died at a Blazer game,” BillFireCrotchWalton observed somberly. Sadly this moment came when Portland played the Dallas Mavericks in 2014. Tragically, Sandra Vickefoose, a Portland season ticketholder succumbed to a cardiac arrest during the game. It stunned the players and members of the crowd because they hoped that she would pull through.
“I’ve never seen, never had that happen at any game I’ve been to and certainly everybody in the arena, I felt, was affected by it,” Blazers head coach Terry Stotts said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with her family.” Sadly these kinds of incidents occasionally happen at games. The worst is when a player suffers a serious injury on the court or playing field because it’s so visible.
“During a Spurs game about 15 years ago, a falling player ripped the button off of a ref’s pants,” JeahNotSlice said. “That was funny as hell.” While this is an especially obscure piece of NBA history, it’s not the only pants moment in basketball. A number of players received citations for pulling down their pants in the middle of games despite thousands of people watching. It’s nice to have no shame.
Ron Artest once tried to pull down Paul Pierce’s pants in a game against the Celtics. The strangest aspect of this was the fact that the referee did absolutely nothing to intervene. This is an illegal move yet he chose to let it go. Meanwhile, Nemanja Bjelica nonchalantly dropped his shorts during a game against the Jazz, but at least he was wearing compression tights.
“The Verizon Center in DC had a rain delay, they had trash cans catching the rain,” BleedingCello said on Reddit. “If I remember right it added like an hour and a half to the game.” This is absolutely correct and was one of the strangest moments in indoor sporting history. Typically, leagues like the NFL will play through all weather but the NBA doesn’t have to worry about this kind of thing.
That was, until 2014 when a leaky roof affected the state of play in Washington. Obviously, players can’t run on a slippery, wet court so it was necessary to dry the floor and ensure no more water affected play. Meanwhile, the Wizards put up a damp performance against the Houston Rockets on their way to a miserable loss. It wasn’t the best night for their fans.
“Keon Clark went into the stands to argue with the guy who was harassing his wife,” Pardonme23 wrote. “That was crazy.” In sum, Clark was a maniac and this wasn’t the only wild thing that he did. The NBA journeyman claimed he never played a game sober in his life. If this is true then it is quite an achievement because there are a lot of NBA games.
Furthermore, he said that he was almost always drunk by halftime. With this amount of liquor in his body, it’s no surprise that he was willing to fight anybody and everybody. Sadly, his life deteriorated and he received a lengthy jail sentence in 2013 on gun charges. Some players possess an incredible technical ability but are unable to maintain a healthy mindset.
We’ve already talked about Spirit the Hawk’s adventure during Atlanta’s playoff game against Miami. But it deserves a second mention because one NBA fan revealed how the players reacted. “Never seen so many grown-ass men act like little girls before,” the fan mocked on Reddit. It was very true because the Miami players were terrified of the bird despite being massive individuals.
“You see Al Horford duck and run, I was like, ‘Let me run for cover as well,’ Dwyane Wade told ESPN. “It was kind of weird having the hawk fly around. It’s hard to play with your back to that hawk on the backboard.” Of course, it was unlikely that the bird wanted to eat an almost seven-foot basketball player. Maybe Wade knew something everybody else didn’t.
By far the craziest moment in NBA history, the Malice at the Palace was a national scandal. It saw the Indiana Pacers and the Detroit Pistons go to war in Auburn Hills. Forget the strangest, this was the wildest in-house brawl ever seen because players fought spectators as well as each other. Overall it was a shameful incident. Ron Artest received a massive ban for his role in the brawl, but many players were involved.
The refs did not receive nearly enough blame for contributing to that ordeal, HolySpaghetti said about the incident. “Ben Wallace shoved Artest, HARD (in the face), for really no reason. It was the waning moments of the game, and the right thing would have been to immediately eject Wallace since he was hot and Artest (known for his anger) was clearly going to be fuming.” Sometimes referees don’t take responsibility.