Here’s The One Way NBA Players Are Allowed To Curse At Refs

Did you know NBA players are allowed to curse at referees? That’s what has come out of a new rules explanation, but you won’t believe the caveat.

If you start swearing at a referee, in most professional sports you’re in trouble. Not quite so in the NBA, at least according to a new rules clarification given by the league’s Vice President of Referee Operations and Director of Officials Bob Delaney.

Speaking to Sporting News about the tensions between NBA players and referees, Delaney got onto the subject of foul language and revealed that a player dropping the F-word is not necessarily grounds for an automatic technical.

You just have to use it as an adjective instead of a verb.

Here’s the full quote from the interview:

We’re going to be understanding that, if there are words used, cursing is not an automatic technical. It’s how you say it, it’s where you use it. We said this to the players.

If you used it as an adjective, you’re probably going to be all right, if you used it as a noun, you probably have a problem.

If you don’t know the difference, we’re going to back to diagramming sentences. You have to have knowledge of how you are presenting yourself. There is a difference between someone saying, ‘Is that a f—ing foul?’ and, ‘Hey, F—o, is that a foul?’

What a difference a verb makes.

All kidding aside, Delaney has a genuine point about trying to understand the context of what’s being said and not just teeing up a player for simply using a bad word. His entire interview is worth a read.

But it’s hard not to laugh at this particular clarification and imagine more NBA players letting a few curse words fly because they know they can. Or even funnier, the idea of one of them trying to argue the semantics after getting slapped with a technical. You can see it now: “I was using it as an adjective, not a verb!”

The number of ways this could go wrong is myriad.

Yet maybe, just maybe, this explanation will also serve as a heads-up to players so that they can use their F-bombs better and not in situations like this:

Cursing happens across pretty much every sport, as tempers flare and athletes get sucked into the heat of competition. But it’s interesting – and amusing – that the NBA has gone so far as to draw a distinction over the proper usage of the F-bomb. Let’s see if it sticks.

What do you think about the usage of curse words in professional sports?

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