Are NBA Players Allowed To Swear? Yes Or No?

Are NBA Players Allowed To Swear

NBA players are not allowed to swear on the court according to the NBA rule book, as it can result in a technical foul. Swearing is a common way for players to express frustration, but referees have discretion in enforcing this rule.

Saying dirty words or swear words is a way for NBA players to express what they feel. They use bad words to vent their anger and frustration. Words like f*ck, sh*t, and other swear words you know are the usual swear words used by NBA players. However, is swearing allowed in the NBA? Are NBA players allowed to say bad words?

Are NBA players allowed to swear? According to the NBA rule book, NBA players are not allowed to swear on the court or to the refs. It can result in a technical foul. However, it still depends on the referees. Some refs allowed it and some refs do not.

We have lots of things to learn about this topic. Let’s get deeper and let’s learn the different reasons why NBA players swear, and if they get fined for swearing. Also, we are going to answer various questions related to our subject. If you are ready, let’s go! 

Why Do NBA Players Swear On The Court?

Like I have said, saying bad words is already a habit of every NBA player. They swear on the court for different reasons. What are the reasons why NBA players swear? 

Why do NBA players swear on the court? The reason why NBA players swear on the court is because of these four things:

  • Because of bad calls
  • Out of frustration
  • They heard something dumb
  • When they engage in trash talk. 

Let’s get deeper and discuss each different reason why NBA players swear on the court.

Bad Calls

The first reason why NBA players swear on the court is because of bad calls from the referees. If the referees made a bad call, the f word automatically comes out to the player’s mouth. This is very disappointing for NBA players, especially if they know that the call should not be called. They have nothing to do about this but swear. 

Sometimes the NBA players swear directly to refs, while some swear indirectly. When they say swear words and shout directly to the referees, it’s an automatic technical foul. It’s against the rule book to curse the officials. 


When NBA players get frustrated, they have nothing to do but swear. If they have a rough shooting night or got four personal fouls early in the game, they become frustrated. Because of this, they swear a lot and say various unpleasant words. 

Sometimes NBA players get frustrated with their coaches and teammates, especially if they are not doing their job well. Frustration is inevitable in basketball. Many things may happen in one basketball game that may frustrate the player, and swearing is the only way to express his frustration and release anger. 

Heard Something Dumb

This happens often when a reporter asks a dumb question. When NBA players were asked by the reporters a question, and they think it is a dumb question, expect that the NBA player who received the question will say swear words. 

All of us say unpleasant words when we hear something dumb. It may be a dumb question or a dumb statement. This is the same with NBA players. When they hear dumb questions or statements, they will get annoyed and will use profanity. 

Trash Talking 

The other reason why NBA players say swear words is because of trash talking. NBA players often engage in trash-talking, and it is usual. Trash talk is one way of NBA players, actually the best way, to tremble their opponent’s focus. Players like Michael Jordan, Kevin Garnett, and Kobe Bryant love trash-talking. It became their habit. 

Fans love trash talking too. When fans hear players talking trash, they become more excited to watch the game. I will admit trash talking makes me more interested watch basketball games. 

If NBA players are trash-talking, be ready to hear different swear words. The referees often give the players a technical foul who engage in trash talking. Why? Because I have said above, according to the NBA rule book, using profanity is illegal. 

Some trash-talking is low-key, which is not noticeable. While some trash-talking is loud and even the fans sitting at the top can hear the swear words NBA players spit. If the trash-talking is loud and noticeable, the referees need to take action because it may lead to boxing.

Are NBA Players Allowed To Swear

Is Swearing Allowed In Basketball?

It depends on where you play. If you are playing street basketball, swearing is legal. However, if you play in a professional or organized basketball game, swearing may lead to a technical foul. 

The rule book states that no player may use profanity, swearing, and cussing towards an official, other players, or fans. This rule is followed by different basketball leagues like FIBA, NBA, WNBA, NCAA, high school basketball, and other organized basketball games. 

In the NBA, it depends on the referees if they have to give a technical foul to the player that they heard swearing. Fans, like us, often hear NBA players use profanity or saying swear words. But they are not always given a technical foul by the referees. Why? Because it depends on the judgment of the refs if they have to penalize the player. 

Are NBA Players Allowed To Swear

Some referees allow the NBA players to swear, while some never notice it because NBA players cuss or swear were not directed to anybody. This is the reason why referees refuse to give technical fouls. NBA players say swear words a hundred times in one NBA game. If the referees call a technical foul in every unpleasant word they hear, there will be no players left to play. 

So to make it clear, swearing is not allowed in basketball. However, because some referees have long patience, they permit players to swear as long as the swear word is not for the refs. NBA players always get frustrated in one NBA game, and it is inevitable. Saying bad words or swearing is the only way for them to vent their anger and frustration. 

What Does The NBA Rule Book Say About Swearing?

According to the NBA rule book, NBA players are not allowed to swear or use profanity on the court. They can’t curse the referees, other players, or fans. This will result in a technical foul if they don’t abide. 

However, it still depends on the judgment of referees if they are going to call a technical foul. It is like traveling. NBA players travel a lot, but referees do not call all the traveling violations they see. If they call every traveling violation they see, the game will have lots of change of possession. 

It is the same with swearing. Referees hear lots of swearing from the NBA players, but they don’t call all of it. NBA players swear every time they miss a shot or if they get frustrated, and this happened often in one NBA game. If referees call a technical foul for every swear word they hear, both teams competing will run out of players. 

Let’s check what the NBA rule book tells about swearing. 

RULE NO. 12: Fouls and Penalties

Section V—Conduct

A technical foul shall be assessed for unsportsmanlike tactics such as:

  1. Disrespectfully addressing an official
  2. Physically contacting an official
  3. Overt actions indicating resentment to a call or no-call
  4. Use of profanity
  5. A coach entering onto the court without the permission of an official
  6. A deliberately-thrown elbow or any unnatural physical act towards an opponent with no contact involved
  7. Taunting

Is There Fines When An NBA Player Swears?

Yep! There are monetary fines when an NBA player swears. Even the owners and coaches will get fined if they say swear words, and there are many recorded scenarios where they swore and resulted in a fine. According to the NBA, any type of technical foul costs $2000. The more technical fouls an NBA player gets, the more money they need to pay. 

Swearing or cursing may lead to a technical foul, which means an NBA player will get a monetary fine. Even after the game is done, NBA players are still not allowed to swear live on T.V. NBA players caught saying bad words live on T.V. may also get a monetary fine even if the swear is indirect. 

Check the chart below from the NBA website about the monetary fines NBA players need to pay for every technical foul they make. 

NBA players can also be fined during interviews if they swear or say unpleasant words. The reason why NBA players swear in interviews is because of frustration or if they hear a dumb question from the reporters. This is usual.

It is inevitable for NBA players to swear when they heard a dumb question while they are frustrated and tired. Russell Westbrook is one of the NBA players who love to say bad words in front of the media. Check the video below:

Like I have said above, even the franchise owners get fined. Mark Cuban is the famous owner that gets fined often. He is the owner of the Dallas Mavericks. Mark Cuban has given monetary fines many times, and it looks like he never runs out of money. 

Where Do NBA Fines Go? 

The fines players, coaches, and owners pay goes to a charity, and the NBA association is the one who will choose what charity they will give the money to. This is an agreement made by the NBA players and the NBA. In my own opinion, I think this is a good idea, and I hope the NBA continues to do this. 

Rules Of Other Basketball Leagues When It Comes To Swearing

Now that you already know the rules of the NBA when it comes to swearing, let’s check the rules when it comes to the swearing of the other basketball leagues.


FIBA also doesn’t allow their players to swear on the court, whether it is indirect or direct swearing. However, it still depends on the referees if they call a technical foul if they heard a player or coach say bad words. According to the FIBA rules below, players are not allowed to disrespect the officials. Swearing at them is disrespectful, which can result in a technical foul. 

FIBA Rule 36.3.1. 

A technical foul is a player non-contact foul of a behavioral nature including, but not limited to:

  • Disrespectfully communicating with the officials, the commissioner, the table officials, or the opponents.
  • Using language or gestures likely to offend or incite the spectators.


The NCAA also doesn’t allow their players to use profanity. Check the phrases written from the NCAA rule book about swearing or saying bad words. 

Section 3. CLASS A Unsporting Technical Infractions

Art. 1. A player or substitute committing an unsportsmanlike act including, but not limited to, the following:

b. Using profanity or vulgarity; taunting, baiting, or ridiculing another player or bench personnel; or pointing a finger at or making obscene gestures toward another player or bench personnel

High School Basketball

In high school basketball, swearing is not allowed. It is a technical foul to swear at the referees and other officials. They are not allowed to say swear words on the court, whether it is indirectly or directly. 

It is not good if the parents of the players heard their children cursing or using profanity. If the referees don’t control the language on the court, the players will think that it’s ok to say bad words towards others. 

Remember, high school basketball players are still immature. They say what they hear, and if no one stops it, it will become their habit. 


The WNBA is the female version of the NBA. They have the same rules and regulations as the NBA. So it means that cursing or swearing is not allowed. However, it still depends on the referees if they call a technical foul if they heard a player swear. 

Top NBA Swearing Compilation

NBA players and coaches swear a lot. They say swear words for different reasons, but the main reason why they say swear words is that they are frustrated or angry. Players and coaches use swearing as a way to release the anger they feel inside them. Check out the best swearing compilation below. Both coaches and players are in the video compilation. 

Final Verdict

In conclusion, NBA players are not allowed to swear. They are not allowed to say bad words to the officials, other players, or spectators. When they do, they might get a technical foul and monetary fines. 

It is the same with other basketball leagues. Other basketball leagues also don’t allow their players to say bad words or curse on the court, whether it is indirect or direct swearing. This is a better way of making the game more civilized and clean. 

Spread the love