The Fascinating Reasons Why NBA Players Constantly Look Up During Games

While watching an NBA game, I’m sure you’ve observed players constantly glancing up, leaving you wondering what exactly they’re looking at.

Players like LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant can occasionally be seen tilting their gaze skywards, especially when there’s a break in on-court proceedings.

Well, in this article we’ll be clearing up the uncertainty which surrounds this peculiar behavior.

This will be done by thoroughly addressing the various reasons why players stare up, as well as providing greater insight into what these athletes are often looking at.

As always, we begin with a brief answer summary that addresses the main premise of the article topic…

The most important reasons for an NBA player to glance up during or after a game are to check the game score, or the amount of team and personal fouls.

Reasons why NBA players like to look up during matches

There are five main factors at play here.

Let’s cover each one in turn…

1. Checking the scoreboard

The most crucial factor that determines who wins a game is the score – specifically; the score of each team.

Knowing each team’s score as a player or coach is critical in determining whether you are winning or losing, because that informs team strategy for the following quarters.

More so, if a game is really competitive with the scores close together, looking up at the scoreboard informs the players on how many points would be needed to secure a positive match result.

why NBA players look up - to check the scoreboard

During a basketball game, players must always be mindful of the overall score, especially when the game is closely contested, which is why you’ll see some players raising their heads to have a quick glance at the scoreboard, due to it being located above the court.

The scoreboard in most indoor basketball court arenas is located beneath the Jumbotron – a massive LED display that hangs above the court.

Although apart from the Jumbotron, there are also other LED strips around the arena that display the match results as well as other important stats.

By the way, if you’re in need of a scoreboard for your own personal basketball leisure, then check out our product roundup which reviews the best basketball scoreboards.

In that article, we’ve highlighted the finest options available to prospective buyers.

2. Reading the time and foul count

Apart from being aware of the current score on the court, players also need to be aware of the time and foul counts.

why NBA players look up - to check time and foul count

First of all, when it comes to game time, you’ve got four quarters of twelve minutes each.

NBA players therefore need to look up to keep track of how much time has elapsed in a particular quarter along with making a note of how much time remains within that period of the game.

Additionally, basketball players look upwards to see the shot clock, which ticks down the 24-second time limit for each team when in possession of the ball.

Because a shot must be made before that time period elapses, players gaze upwards to be aware of how many seconds they have to attempt to launch the ball into the opposition team’s basket.

On the other hand, there’s the aspect of foul count.

Since each side is only allowed six fouls before being penalized, every player must be extremely cautious with their game in order to avoid receiving the opponent’s foul reward.

By keeping track of the fouls, NBA players can create counter strategies on the fly in order to be careful when defending or exploit their opponents in a more aggressive way.

3. Keeping track of statistics

As a player, it would be nice to keep track of not just your team’s statistics but also your own to decide how much rigor to put into the game.

That’s why the scoreboards will regularly display player scores as well as other stats.

why NBA players look up - to check player and team statistics

Many players would love to put up triple-doubles, so keeping track of numbers is essential.

They may even be on the verge of breaking an NBA record at times, so they must be informed of their current stats.

NBA players also appreciate knowing their stat line, which may be a buffer if they’re having a horrible game.

Sometimes, players also get very irritated when their coach decides to switch them out in the middle of a game while they are performing well.

James Harden was one of the players who reacted negatively towards his coach for benching him after the player had scored 60 points in 31 minutes against the Atlanta Hawks with a whole fourth quarter left to go.

He was on pace to break Kobe Bryant’s record of 81 points in a single game, or perhaps surpass the 70 point mark.

Harden had 60 points through three quarters, one point shy of his career high of 61.

He also made eight three-pointers on 14 attempts, 20 free throws on 23 tries, and had eight assists.

Check out the video recap of his performance that day:

When you realize you’re only 2 points away from your career high, Harden’s outrage upon being benched is understandable.

These players are clearly not calculating their scores and are instead staring at what is displayed on the scoreboard.

4. Watching replays on the Jumbotron

NBA players also look up to view replays which are usually displayed on the Jumbotron which hangs above the court.

Imagine a player like LeBron James successfully executing a slam dunk to put his Los Angeles Lakers team into the lead before the end of a quarter.

He’d probably want to have a look at how he executed his jump towards the rim by reviewing the replay of that motion.

why NBA players look up - watching replays on the jumbotron

LeBron would only be able to do that by looking at the LED screen above him whilst there’s a break in game proceedings.

On the flip side, basketball certainly isn’t a perfect game.

Bad foul calls happen from time to time in the sport, regardless of league or level of play, and players may receive a call that was not intended to be theirs.

Occasionally, fouls are called on the wrong player, and players who are watching their fouls through the replays can notice that the foul was called on a different player but was incorrectly allocated to them; making this is a useful approach to seeing and correcting the mistake.

5. Viewing other match segments

NBA players may decide to take a glance at the screen in case they want to catch a quick glimpse of which celebrities have come to spectate their game.

why NBA players look up - viewing other match segments

At times, the celebrities in attendance are interviewed, as well as fans sitting courtside who will be given a chance to answer questions about the game or players that they’ve come to watch.

You might not even notice the celebrities until you see them on the big screen.

Basketball players would therefore have a much better better view of the celebrities in question by looking at the LED screen above them, as opposed to squinting their eyes in an attempt to pinpoint the film star in the distance.

Here’s a video showing some serious Hollywood stars in attendance:

The screen also provides players with a look at the halftime entertainment, as well as the different sorts of spectator action taking place in the stands.

NBA players, like spectators, will also look at the screen when there is cheering while the game is not in action.

This could be observed during halftime break highlights, with activities such as the kiss cam and dance-off, as well as competitive games amongst fans for rewards.

Should NBA players look up all the time when competing?

Being aware of what happens during a game is critical.

Coaches and players utilize the easily available information on team and personal statistics to develop a game plan based on these numbers.

All of these data points are crucial when it comes to trying to secure a victory for the team throughout the game.

However, while both players and coaches should look up to check the scores or statistics from time to time, it’s advisable for both of these parties to keep their eyes centered on court proceedings most of the time.

At the NBA level, opponents can be quick to capitalize on lapses in concentration.

Closing thoughts

As you have seen, most NBA players look up for a number of reasons.

The essential one, though, is to know the score line during a game.

Fortunately, LED screens are strategically placed throughout the stadium so that players can easily see their individual and team statistics, and fans may also view the scores and replays from their respective seats.

If you’ve found this post helpful and informative, then have a look through some related content on our blog, such as:

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.