Many professional athletes hold onto superstitions to get into the right mindset, and while baseball players are often renowned for their numerous rituals, athletes from other sports follow similar approaches. One such athlete is former NBA guard Jason Terry, whose superstitions and routines are quite remarkable.
Like Gilbert Arenas, another NBA player known for his superstitions, Jason Terry was a highly skilled ballhandler with a successful career spanning 19 NBA seasons. He played a pivotal role in the Dallas Mavericks’ championship victory in 2001 and was renowned for his tenacity on both ends of the court.
Terry’s agility and basketball IQ were undoubtedly significant factors in his lengthy NBA career. Still, it’s hard to ignore the extensive list of routines and superstitions he relied on during his time on the court.
Keeping track of all of Terry’s rituals can be a challenge, and he readily admitted that he was a “different dude” in an interview with The New York Times.
For instance, the night before every NBA game he played, which totaled more than 1,400 in his career, Terry would sleep in shorts featuring the opposing team’s logo.
On game day, he adhered to a pre-game meal that invariably included chicken, consumed a few hours before tipoff. He never took the court without wearing a headband and high socks. If he missed consecutive shots in the first quarter, he would change his sneakers before the second quarter.
Terry acknowledged, “My daughters say I’m a weirdo,” and it’s difficult to argue otherwise.
While it’s understandable that athletes incorporate such routines into their pre-game rituals to get into the right mindset, there’s also the risk of disrupting their focus if those routines are ever interrupted.
These approaches can be seen as an extreme dedication to detail, but some might argue that the same energy could be better invested in honing basketball skills such as dribbling, shooting, or defense. Focusing on attire to the extent of changing shoes mid-game might seem a bit excessive.
Of course, it’s worth acknowledging that Terry’s methods worked for him, considering his nearly two-decade-long NBA career. As someone who once emulated Evan Longoria by repeatedly redoing and undoing batting gloves to “reset” before every pitch in baseball, it’s clear that some individuals find comfort in these routines.
Terry’s tradition of wearing opponents’ shorts began in college at the University of Arizona. Initially, he wore his own shorts out of excitement before games, eventually shifting to opponents’ shorts as a playful jest, which he later fully committed to.
Throughout his career, Terry made subtle adjustments to his rituals. He transitioned from chicken fingers to grilled or rotisserie chicken, maintaining the “chicken before every game” spirit. He also adopted the practice of changing his footwear if his shot was off, which led to his distinctive high socks.
Terry had other quirks as well, such as spreading his arms like an airplane after hitting a three-pointer to boost his confidence for the next shot, earning him the nickname “The Jet.”
Upon closer examination of athletes who rely on superstitions, it becomes increasingly apparent that they might be onto something. If it works for them, it works, and if it doesn’t, they can always blame it on the shoes (or the socks).
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