Why Do NBA Players Tuck in their Jerseys

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An untucked jersey is worn casually and is trendy, but why do NBA players tuck in their jerseys?

The NBA organization employs NBA players; as such, they have to abide by the rules set by the league. One of these rules is the strict dress code implemented by Commissioner David Stern on October 17, 2005, requiring players to tuck in their jerseys when playing. Players must wear business or conservative attire during a game or off-court activities, like press interviews and charity appearances.

However, the dress code was relaxed during the bubble games. Players were not required to wear a sports coat, and long and short-sleeved polo shirts were allowed for various appearances. 

Although the dress code changed, tucked jerseys during games stay for reasons mentioned in this material.

What is the NBA Rule on Wearing JerseysWhat is the NBA Rule on Wearing Jerseys?

Aside from the NBA players, the NBA jerseys can be worn by anyone for their fashion statement. The jersey represents a fan’s loyalty to a team or a player or an expression of their identity. It can be seen on the shoulders of gym regulars, students, weekenders, or hip hoppers.

You can wear them in any way that suits you, but on the NBA hardcourt, some rules are followed. Irresponsible use of NBA jerseys is considered an offense and can be penalized with a fine.

Jerseys are Properly Tucked In

While on the court, players must see that their jerseys are slipped into their shorts. When NBA players untucked their jerseys, they are reminded by the referees, team officials, and teammates.

Today, NBA athletes are allowed to wear a compression t-shirt under their jersey, but it should be tight-fitting. Lakers Anthony Davis wears it to calm the muscles and prevent injuries. Players like LeBron James. Kobe Bryant and Chris Paul don compression t-shirts to boost circulation and regulate body temperature.


The front and back of a player’s jersey should show their number and must be 0.75 inches (0.02 m) wide and 6 inches (0.15 m) tall. The league allows players to choose from 0-99 and double digits. If a player is interested in a retired number, he should seek permission from the individual.

Dennis Rodman requested the number 69 but was turned down by Commissioner David Stern because of the negative connotation. Instead, Rodman chose the number 70 (69 + 1).

NBA players can change their numbers in the offseason. When Michael Jordan came out of retirement, he changed his number from 23 to 45. Lebron James started with number 23 for the Cavaliers, changed to number 6 with the Miami Heat, switched to 23 when he returned to the Cavs, and now wears number 6 for the Lakers team. Many players requested the number 8 or 24 to show their respect for Kobe Bryant.

Last Name

The back of the jersey must display the player’s last name with a letter size of two inches (0.05 m) tall and correctly spelled.

But there are exceptions. Yao Ming had Yao at the back of his jersey because, in China, the convention is last name first. With FIBA EuroBasket 2022, Giannis Antetokounmpo, with older brother Thanasis, played for Greece’s National Team. Giannis had his last name spelled right, but Thanasis had Adetokunbo. The brothers have Nigerian parents with Adetokunbo as their last name, and it was changed to Antetokounmpo when they acquired Greek passports. The letters “NT” in Greek make a “D” sound and “MP” a “B” sound. Hence, A”d”etokun”b”o pronounced in Greek is A”nt”etokoun”mp”o.

Color of Basketball Uniform

In the NBA, the home team should wear light colors, and the visiting team should wear darker jerseys.

However, this was changed in the 2017-18 season. The home team can wear any color of their choice, while the other team can wear any color that contrasts with the home team’s selection.

Commercial Logos

Teams have their logos on the uniform, but commercial logos need the league’s approval. Only official sponsors and team jersey manufacturers can display their logo on the game wear.

Why Do NBA Players Have to Keep their Jerseys Tucked InWhy Do NBA Players Have to Keep their Jerseys Tucked In?

You’ll seldom see an NBA player with an untucked jersey because it’s in the rulebook, and here are why jerseys should always be slipped inside the shorts.

NBA Rulebook

When a player enters the court, he should be prepared to play, i.e., no warm-up clothing, a jersey is tucked in, and shoelaces are tied.

An untucked jersey can be called for delaying the game. The first call merits a warning, and if it happens again, a technical foul will be called, and a free throw will be awarded to the opposing team.

Safety Hazard

An untucked jersey can result in another player’s hand getting stuck inside the shirt. This can result in hassles or injuries.

NBA Players are Professionals

NBA players are professionals and must always be aware of what they wear on the court. An untucked jersey is a fashion statement or a get-up in playing streetball.

Players must adhere to the NBA’s dress code when attending a basketball game. They frequently don coats, pants, and dress shoes, even if they spectate from the bench.

How Do NBA Players Keep their Jerseys Tucked InHow Do NBA Players Keep their Jerseys Tucked In?

Basketball jerseys worn casually are a size bigger, untucked, and hung. NBA pros wearing jerseys have to abide by the NBA rules when playing and have to tuck it in.

The player feels uncomfortable if the jersey’s fit is too loose; it should be tighter for a fluid motion. The armholes are more significant than most t-shirts but not too big for easy arm movement; defenders might get their hands caught.

Length doesn’t matter as long as the jersey is tucked in; teammates, team officials, and referees will remind you if it falls out. 

Untucked jerseys were a common sight in NBA games, prompting the former uniform maker Adidas to put silicon in the middle of the waistband of the basketball shorts to keep the jersey in place. The basketball shorts manufactured by Nike still contain silicon to prevent an untucked jersey.

What Happens If a Player in the NBA Fails to Tuck in his JerseyWhat Happens If a Player in the NBA Fails to Tuck in his Jersey?

In a close game between the Oklahoma City (OKC) Thunder and the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2019, the Wolves were up by three with seconds remaining. 

Wolves’ Jordan Bell was substituted into the game with his jersey untucked, which did not escape the keen eyes of Chris Paul. Paul told the referee that a technical foul resulted in a free throw. Dennis Schroeder scored on a layup to send the match into overtime, and OKC went on to win the game.

No fines were slapped on NBA players with untucked jerseys, but fines were given to two players who removed their jerseys as they left the court. Udonis Haslem was penalized with $5,000 in 2006, and Andrew Bynum for $25,000 in 2011.

Wrapping Things Up: Why Do NBA Players Tuck in their Jerseys?

The NBA dress code was changed in the 2020 NBA Bubble from the business attire to casual wear. Adventurous dressers walk in the NBA stadium garbed in men’s wear that resembles a fashion show.

But why do NBA players tuck in their jerseys during game time?

NBA players are professionals, and a tucked jersey makes them look like one. It prevents the defender’s hands from getting entangled with the jersey, which might result in injuries.

 We hope you enjoyed this post! If you did, be sure to check out our other basketball FAQ articles here.

> Why Do NBA Referees Have Numbers?

> Why Do NBA Teams Trade for Players?

> Why Do Teams Switch Sides in Basketball?

Hoops Addict
Hoops Addict

Hoops Addict was created to help basketball fans of all ages learn more about the sport and find the best basketball gear to improve their ability to hoop. He has been a huge basketball fan for decades, watching thousands of basketball games through the years to learn the ins and outs of the game.

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