NBA players, like any other regular person, have strange rituals and superstitions. According to a former New York Knicks trainer, star center Patrick Ewing only high-fived teammates who had washed their hands.
According to longtime NBA trainer Timmy Walsh, Ewing knew from a mile away if a teammate had washed his hands thoroughly or not. Even if that person hit a game-winner, Ewing kept his guard up.
"He was very aware of people who didn't wash their hands," Walsh said. "Patrick knew from two rooms away if someone went to the bathroom and didn't wash their hands. He knew it. And Patrick was not touching that person all night. Two hours later, in the middle of the game, if that guy just hit the game-winning shot, he was fist-bumping him instead of shaking his hand. He wasn't touching the guy."
It’s definitely a weird superstition, especially since Ewing is playing a physical sport. Yes, he may not touch his teammates' or opponents’ hands. But he will rub his body on theirs and also touch the ball that they’ve touched. Ewing's sweat also splashed onto his opponents, and vice versa.
Ewing’s superstition is more interesting, especially with how people behaved during the COVID-19 pandemic. People did not high-five or fist-bump one another. Instead, they acknowledged one another using their elbows.
Other weird superstitions
Ewing wasn’t the only NBA player who observed a weird superstition. Caron Butler drank two liters of Mountain Dew before a game — a practice he did since high school. He also chewed on straws and would use up to 12 in a game.
The night before a game, Jason Terry slept wearing his opponents’ shorts. To make things more extreme, the shorts Terry wore weren’t just your ordinary shorts from the NBA Store. They were authentic team shorts.
Michael Jordan also had a similar superstition involving shorts. In 1982, he led North Carolina to the NCAA National Championship. It was stamped in his brain that those college shorts might bring him some good omen. And so during his entire NBA career, MJ wore his North Carolina practice shorts under his NBA uniform.
As the old adage goes, do whatever floats your boat. Though bizarre, the superstitions Ewing, Jordan, Terry, and Butler practiced gave them a dose of comfort. They needed to do it to keep themselves sane.