Why Can’t Basketball Players Hang on the Rim When Dunking?

As a basketball enthusiast, I bet there’s one thing that really excites you when either watching or playing a game.

And that’s the art of performing a slam dunk.

When executed successfully, this move is so entertaining to watch.

However, when a player makes a dunk, they may occasionally follow up the action by hanging on to the rim.

If you aren’t well acquainted with the rules, then you may be surprised to learn that hanging on to the rim isn’t allowed.

So, in this article, we’ll be investigating why professional players are prohibited from making this move, starting with a quick answer summary…

Basketball players are prohibited from hanging on to the rim primarily because of the safety risks involved. Endangering an opponent is possible because a fall from rim height could cause serious injury should a hard landing on the ground be made, not to mention the fact that the person falling may topple over and onto other nearby players.

Reasons why you can’t hang on the rim in the NBA

According to the NBA rulebook, a player is not permitted to hang excessively on the rim in basketball.

Here’s the exact quote which confirms this:

Players are not allowed to pull themselves up on the rim, nor are they allowed to hang on the rim after a dunk attempt, unless they are doing so to avoid injury to themselves or another player.

Source – NBA rulebook

There are various reasons why hanging on the rim when dunking is prohibited, and we will attempt to enlighten you on this in this post, so read on to learn more.

1. Safety concerns

First of all, what are the safety concerns that a player making a dunk faces when making such a stunt?

Well, it might not seem obvious, but the major reason basketball players hang on the hoop after a slam is to stop or decrease their forward momentum towards the rim itself.

Although most basketball players are of average height, they still need to generate enough force to dunk the ball.

This causes them to create a lot of speed and forward movement towards the rim, so the players must hold on to the rim to stop their momentum.

why can't players hang on the rim when dunking - safety concerns

For if they do not hold on to the rim in such a case, they risk accidents that may cause major injuries from the intense forward thrust, which will send them flying and landing on the ground.

Think about some of the most common injuries a basketball player can have, such as:

All of these injury types can be easily inflicted through a fall from rim height.

2. Unsportsmanlike conduct

Additionally, some may define the act of hanging on to the rim as arrogance.

Personally, I like to call this confidence, because making your opponent feel intimidated is half the battle won in a tightly contested NBA fixture.

Besides trash-talking, players like physically taunting their opponents whenever possible.

A dunk is already a powerful technique to demonstrate your scoring skill, so by hanging on to it a little longer instead of letting go, players try to rile up their opponents by teasing them.

Through clinging on to the rim for a couple of extra seconds, the player in question essentially looks down on his opponents.

They may even yell at them while doing so, which is not very sportsmanlike.

It shows a lack of respect for the opponent by attempting to belittle them, and it doesn’t fall in line with the principles of honest and virtuous gamesmanship.

3. Damaging the equipment

Thirdly, hanging on to the rim too much can damage its structural integrity by tilting it in a particular direction, or worse, damaging it entirely.

why can't players hang on the rim when dunking - possible equipment damage

Although modern rims are strong enough that they wouldn’t bend or tilt easily, they’re still not perfect for holding large weights repeatedly.

There are even instances where games can be delayed for a long time to get the rim adjusted.

So, in order to avoid unnecessary game delays, the league wouldn’t allow anyone to hang excessively on the rim.

There was an instance in a February 4, 2022 game where a misaligned rim and backboard caused a significant delay during a nationally broadcast game between the Dallas Mavericks and the Philadelphia 76ers.

Mavericks All-Star Luka Doncic noticed the American Airlines Center rim was awkwardly slanted to the right after shooting a 3-pointer with little over six minutes left in the first quarter and yelled for the referees’ attention.

Backboards are now more durable than before.

Yet, numerous NBA players, including Shaquille O’Neal, gained notoriety for breaking the backboard.

Throughout the course of his career, the 7-foot-1 Hall of Famer smashed several basketball rims, two of which were destroyed live in NBA games, forcing the league to retain a backup hoop in every game.

Although the rim and backboard are now more durable, players cannot be too comfortable and decide to hang on them, as they’re not meant to withstand such weight in the first place.

Why is hanging on the rim considered a technical foul?

We now know that hanging on the rim is not permitted if the goal is not to land safely or avoid others.

So why is this against the rules?

Well, there is a clear reason for it.

A lot is at stake in a great professional league like the NBA, as most other professional leagues stress the safety of everyone on the court.

They care not just about the fans’ enjoyment but also about the players’ safety as well.

When players hang on the rim, they endanger themselves and other athletes around them.

All it takes is a simple slip of the wrist to tumble down and fall, which could cause serious injury to the player in question or others in near vicinity.

What happens if you hang on the rim in the NBA?

The rules are pretty clear on this.

Section IV of the NBA rulebook states that:

“An offensive player who purposely hangs on his basket ring, net, backboard, or support throughout the game shall be issued a non-unsportsmanlike technical foul.”

Source – NBA Official

Here’s what happened in an NCAA college game between Illinois and Houston, where Melendez hung on to the rim after a dunk:

A technical foul was awarded for endangering the opponent, which mean that Houston had the chance to score a basket at the other end from a free throw attempt.

You can see that in the footage above.

The same would likely happen at NBA level too, as there isn’t much variation in the rules regarding dunks.


Ultimately, dunks are among one of the most thrilling moments that can take place in any basketball game.

However, considering the different risks listed in the article, such as injury to the player or fellow players, especially if the landing is not done correctly, players must exercise extreme caution.

As previously stated, hanging on to the rim can cause damage to the backboard or rim itself, and we have seen how this may affect the smooth flow of basketball games.

As a result, it’s vital that players try to display sportsmanship during games, as well as assessing various on-court factors in order to avoid injuring themselves or their opponents.

In addition to this, hanging on the rim should be avoided due to the possibilities of damaging court equipment and receiving a technical foul for breaking the rules.

For more related content on things that players can or can’t do in the sport of basketball, check out the following blog posts:

About Samuel Waihenya

Samuel is an avid fan of basketball and has been following the sport for over 10 years. He now intends to dedicate his time to produce great content for his own little basketball blog that aims to help its readership with whatever basketball-related topic they can think of. Have a read through Samuel Waihenya's author bio page here.