Tipoff will wait for nothing in the NBA this season — not even one of its most iconic images, LeBron James’ pregame powder toss.
In an effort to speed up tip times for TV, the league will strictly enforce a 90-second window before games for player handshakes, superstitious rituals, elaborate high-five routines, bit comedies and whatever fun things players invent to entertain themselves and their fans.
Apparently, the fun before games isn’t as important as TV programming.
No matter. James said he still plans to throw his magical cloud of dust into the air.
“I won’t change it,” James said after Wednesday’s practice. “I’ll be able to work it in.”
The powder toss isn’t James’ only pregame routine. He also runs through a series of hand slaps with teammate Mario Chalmers and sometimes shadow boxes with Dwyane Wade. In his Cleveland days, James choreographed elaborate pregame skits, including pretending to be a photographer while his teammates posed.
James, of course, isn’t the only player on the Heat’s roster with a signature pregame ritual. Wade’s routine is a little longer. Before home games, after slapping hands with players and shadow boxing with James, Wade sometimes hugs his mom, does pull-ups on the rim and signals to the crowd before taking his place at center court.
“I’ll have to take something away for sure,” Wade said. “I’m always going to make sure I show love to the fans. There are so many rules, I can’t keep up.
“There’s no reason to make a big stink. It’s their league; it’s their rules.”
Players were informed of the 90-second rule during pregame meetings with league officials. Teams will receive an initial warning for delaying a game. The second warning will result in a technical foul.
Pregame handshake routines and other sideshow acts are relatively new in the NBA. When Shaquille O’Neal was with the Phoenix Suns, the big center famously lined up his teammates like bowling pins before knocking them over.
The Heat’s pregame antics run a little long, but they’re short in comparison to other routines around the league. The Thunder players are notoriously long with their pregame handshakes.
On Tuesday in Oklahoma City, Kevin Durant had to hurry through his pregame handshakes and later told The Oklahoman that he didn’t like the new rule.
“Every player in this league has routines they do with their teammates, rituals they do before the game and before they walk on the floor,” Durant told The Oklahoman. “The fans like it. The fans enjoy it.
“You see the fans mimicking the guys who do their stuff before the game. To cut that down really don’t make no sense. Why would you do it? I really don’t agree with it, but I don’t make the rules.”
The Heat (1-2) plays host to the Detroit Pistons (2-2) in its first home game of the preseason at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday. … Joel Anthony, Mario Chalmers and Udonis Haslem, each recovering from strained leg muscles, are doubtful. …Wade, who Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said will be day-to-day for the entire preseason, is questionable.