Earlier this week, the NBA kicked off yet another round of finger-wagging and fines after Timberwolves shooting guard Kevin Martin performed the storied Big Balls dance to celebrate hammering home a three on the Chicago Bulls. The Big Balls dance—a self-explanatory taunt conceived by former NBA point guard Sam Cassell—has been obstinately banned from the hard court for years, netting most players who dare to bust a ballin’ groove a hefty fine for “obscene gestures.” However, there will always be daring players willing to publicly cradle a pair of massive, make-believe cajones despite all that. Herein, we provide a retrospective on the politically-incorrect move that has cost players $125,000 to date.
May 19, 2004: Sam Cassell
There was no Big Balls dance before Sam Cassell, at least not on the basketball court—the shimmy has its origins in Major League II, a 1994 baseball film starring Charlie Sheen. As such, Cassell’s inaugural taunt during Game 7 of the Western Conference semifinals didn’t earn him a fine of any sort, only a place in history. However, the dance didn’t come free. The Timberwolves’ head coach at the time, Flip Saunders, claims that Cassell re-injured his ailing hip doing the dance, costing the team a shot at the championship, according to the Star Tribune. Nonetheless, the Wolves still won that game.
Jan. 14, 2009: Kobe Bryant
Feb. 3, 2009: Andre Iguodala
This would mark the second time a too-soon Big Balls dance would seal a loss for the offending team. The Philadelphia 76ers’ Andre Iguodala celebrated early after tying the game up with the Boston Celtics in the final seconds of the fourth. However, Ray Allen quickly gave him a reality check, serving up a three to put Boston up by one before the buzzer.
Feb. 11, 2009: Kobe Bryant
Apparently, Kobe didn’t learn his lesson. Once again, he celebrated early in a game against the Utah Jazz, which the Lakers ended up losing. Still no fines.
Jan. 28, 2011: Josh Smith
Josh Smith was fined a massive $25,000 for performing an obscene gesture during a mid-season game against the New York Knicks. The Atlanta Hawks forward’s version of the dance was relatively offensive even by today’s standards, and that’s apparently where a league trying to stave off any future Sam Cassell imitators drew the line. Fines from here on out.
Jan. 30, 2011: Eddie House
Apparently, $25,000 is how much it will cost you for going all out with the Big Balls dance like the Miami Heat’s Eddie House did during a game against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Although the NBA made its displeasure with House particularly noticeable, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra was seen pumping his fist in approval. How’s that for mixed messages?
May 4, 2013: Marco Belinelli
In the first round of the playoffs, the Chicago Bulls’ Marco Belinelli whipped out his invisible balls to celebrate a clutch three on the Brooklyn Nets that gave his team the lead with less than five minutes left in the fourth quarter. As was the norm by now, the guard was slapped with a $15,000 fine for his obscene gesture.
Nov. 1, 2013: Caron Butler
For Caron Butler, the dance may not have been worth it. During a game against the Boston Celtics, the Milwaukee Bucks forward only scored a total of eight points. However, this didn’t stop him from performing the dance after hitting a three. He was hit with a fine of $15,000. Not a great trade-off.
Nov. 1, 2013: Andray Blatche
The NBA fined Brooklyn Nets centre Andray Blatche $15,000 for making an “obscene gesture” during a game against the Miami Heat. Blatche had just hit a smooth three-pointer from the corner.
Jan. 14, 2014: Jameer Nelson
Late last season, Jameer Nelson of the Orlando Magic performed a particularly lively take on the dance, also earning a $15,000 fine. Nelson was celebrating a game-tying jumper he made in the last few seconds of a game against the Chicago Bulls.
Nov. 1, 2014: Kevin Martin
It’s only fitting that one of Cassell’s fellow Minnesota Timberwolves would carry on the Big Balls torch. Shooting guard Kevin Martin subtly hoisted his testicles two nights ago after hitting a three, earning his team a 102-100 lead over Chicago with 90 seconds remaining. The NBA took exception to the act and fined him $15,000.