With the NBA Playoffs underway, basketball is all about drama and excitement at the moment. Sometimes, however, pro basketball is just downright strange.
Bubba Wells played just one year in the NBA, as a reserve for the Dallas Mavericks. In a tight, December 1997 game against the Chicago Bulls, Mavericks coach Don Nelson tried a unique strategy to limit the Bulls’ points—foul their star forward Dennis Rodman as often as possible, because he was a terrible free-throw shooter. A big part of that strategy was making Bubba Wells do as much of that fouling as possible—and boy, did he deliver. Wells fouled Rodman six times in just three minutes, and per NBA rules, that disqualified him from playing in the rest of the game. That’s still an NBA record for fouling out.
How valuable is the most valuable player if their team doesn’t win the championship? Only one year, and the first year in which it was handed out, the Finals MVP award went to a player on…the losing team. Jerry West led the Los Lakers to three wins in the 1969 NBA Finals…but the Boston Celtics won four, and the title, despite West’s MVP-level 38 points per game average. Still, his team lost.
In a January 2014 regular season game, the Houston Rockets squared off against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Houston thoroughly dominated the other team in the first half, outscoring them 73 to 59. That’s a pretty comfortable lead…which the Rockets somehow blew with one of the first second-half scoring outputs of all time. After the break, Houston put up just 19 points, and the Thunder wound up easily winning the game 104 to 92.
No man’s land
NBA teams carry a roster of 12 players—with five guys on the floor, and seven on the bench. In April 2010, injuries so depleted the Golden State Warriors that they were down to just six players for a game against the Portland Trail Blazers. And in the first quarter, starting center Chris Hunter went down with a knee injury, meaning the Warriors had five players to play, meaning nobody could take a break for the entirety of the game. Later on, the Warriors’ Devean George fouled out…but thanks to an obscure rule, he got to stay in the game because the Warriors wouldn’t have had enough players without him. Somehow, the Warriors won the game, in overtime.
Let’s put on a shoe!
This has to be the strangest defensive play in NBA history. In a December 2014 game between Golden State and Dallas, the Warriors’ Marreese Speights lost his shoe (basketball is a very physical game), and when the Mavericks got possession, he had to head down to the other end of the court with one foot in a shoe, and one foot in a sock. His shoe sat on the court, until the Warriors got the ball again. Speights’ teammate Stephen Curry swiped the shoe and tried to toss it back to its rightful owner…only for Mavericks center Tyson Chandler to swat it away.