Unusual Moments in Basketball History

Many enjoy basketball due to the drama and excitement that it entails. However, it can also be full of surprises, having its own strange moments. Some are unbelievable or too odd to be true, while others are simply weird or downright goofy. In this article, let’s talk about some of the unusual occurrences in basketball history, proving how fun the sport can be.

The 19-18 Game

On November 22, 1950, the Minneapolis Lakers, boasting legends Vern Mikkelsen, Jim Pollard, and George faced the Fort Wayne Pistons headed by coach Murray Mendenhall. The Minneapolis Lakers were the defending champions and the no. 1 team in the league.

With the current standing and with the game happening in Minnesota where their opponents won their last 29 home games, coach Mendenhall knew that his team doesn’t have the fighting chance against the Lakers. However, he had a different, crafty strategy in mind.

Mendenhall ordered his team to stall the game. The Pistons held onto the ball for as long as five minutes or passed it around while the Lakers watched. Over 7,000 people watched the game and booed the Pistons.

The Pistons keep the score close, ahead 8-7 in the first, trailing 11-13 in the second quarter, and down 14-17 in the third quarter. However, the Lakers only scored a single point in the last quarter, falling short against the Pistons, 19-18, with the victory only secured by the latter with a play six seconds before the final buzzer.

It was an embarrassing moment and was the lowest scoring game in NBA history. Nevertheless, the event proved to be fruitful as the 24-second clock rule was established a few years later.

Quickest Foul Out

Bubba Wells only played for a single year in the NBA, but that was even long enough for him to make a dubious record. In fact, he is renowned for being the player with the quickest foul out, being disqualified from the game due to personal fouls in just under three minutes.

It happened in a close game between the Chicago Bulls and the Dallas Mavericks in December 1997. Part of Mavs coach Don Nelson’s desperate strategy was to foul Dennis Rodman, who was known as a terrible free throw shooter, to restrain the Bulls’ offense. The tactic went for naught, as Rodman went nine out of 12, which is significantly higher than his 38.6 FT percentage. The Bulls won in the game 111–105.

Finals MVP to a Losing Team

Being hailed as the MVP in the Finals is surely an amazing feat, but how rewarding it really is if the team fails to win the championship? In 1969, Jerry West became the first NBA Finals MVP and the only person to receive recognition while on the losing team. West had a 38-point game average, but the Boston Celtics won the best-of-7 series, 4-3. After the said year, the hardware has been given to the best player of the championship team.

Depleted Line-Up

In a series of unfortunate events and injuries, the Golden State Warriors were only left with half of their roster when they faced the Portland Trail Blazers on April 10, 2010. The six players present were starters Stephen Curry, Monta Ellis, Chris Hunter, Anthony Tolliver, and Reggie Williams, with Devean George left as a reserve.

Having only that many players left, there are only two things to avoid. First, an injury that would sideline another player. Second, an ejection, disqualifying a player from the game. However, Hunter suffered from a knee injury only five minutes into the game.

George was put in, and thanks to the heroics of Curry and Ellis, the Warriors were able to keep the game close. Yet, in the last five minutes, George fouled out. Thankfully, an NBA rule allowed him to stay in the game, as there were no more reserves available. It was one of the Golden State Warriors’s most spectacular games as they managed, somehow, to win the game 122-116 in overtime. Curry finished with 42 points, while Ellis chipped in 34.

Jump Ball Every Basket

It’s surprising, but there was actually a time when a jump ball followed each successful score. This tremendously slowed down the pace of the fame, while the rule also became disadvantageous for teams with taller players and better jumpers. Moreover, jump ball during the early times was incredibly physical, with players shoving and pushing to get the ball’s possession. Today, the jump ball is now only used to start a game and an overtime period.

Tallest Player and Shortest Player Were On The Same Team

In the NBA’s 1987-1988 season, the tallest player and shortest player ever to grace the NBA court at that time played on the same team under the Washington Bullets. They were the Manute Bol (7’6”) and Muggsy Bogues (5’3”). The duo easily gained the eyes of the audience when they stood next to each other or as they took action on the court, given the visible disparity. Yet, what they proved is that height can be an advantage, but being short isn’t also an impediment, with the former being an undervalued three-point shooter while the latter an excellent shot-blocker given his stature.

Air Jordans Out

The Air Jordans debut in 1984 did not go as smoothly as possible as a famous story goes that they were banned from the NBA. The renowned shoes’ colors, mostly black and red, didn’t comply with the league’s uniform standards. At that time, players were enforced to sport only white sneakers and that had to be in line with the team’s uniform. Michael Jordan was said to have received a $5,000 fine each time he wore the Air Jordans, which was said to be paid by Nike, a small amount to shell out, for the icon to don the brand.


That’s the rundown of some of the unusual moments in basketball history. As the game continues to evolve and as things just simply are unpredictable, we can expect more out of the ordinary events to come in the sport of basketball.