Why do NBA players look up? | Not What You Think


In the NBA, players seem to always be looking up, and it’s pretty obvious that they are actually not looking at the fans but at the Jumbotron. After a foul call, a player may look up to see the replay shown on the screen of the Jumbotron. But they don’t just look up for replays, there are other reasons why…

Why do NBA players lookup? The most important reasons for a player to look up during the game or after a whistle is for the game score, team, and personal fouls along with replays that are all located on the Jumbotron above them. They will also see the team and personal stats. All these statistics are important factors when it comes to trying to seal the victory for your team during the game.

Being aware of what goes on throughout a game is important, coaches and players use this information that is readily available to create a strategy surrounding these stats. Such as if a player is in foul trouble. These features on the scoreboard are just some of the reasons why players lookup. It’s not just for the replay.

Toronto Raptors Score board in arena.

The Scoreboard aka The Jumbotron

The Jumbotron is also known as the scoreboard and is located hanging from the roof of the stadium, this is where fans can view the large screen above them for videos, stats, and game score. Each major stadium has a Jumbotron and for good reason. This is where you can communicate important information to the spectators this includes advertisements. For a better view of the game, some people like watching the action on the big screen. If they are sitting in a seat where their view of the game is not the greatest, this is an option. Maybe you have retired Yao Ming sitting in front of you.

Is there a screen directly under the players? Yes, most arenas in the NBA have screens directly above the court where a player can look up and see the replay and stats, etc. Other arenas will have a screen strip around the entire arena wall where it broadcasts information, ads, and statistics.

How do NBA players know the score, do they lookup?

The score is shown in a couple of places during an NBA game, on the Jumbotron and behind the shot clock on the arena wall where the spectators sit. This is so the players can recognize what the score is so they don’t have to look directly above them in crucial moments of the game. Usually on the long LCD screen.

Players need to be aware of the score during a basketball game, especially when the game is coming down to the wire. When two teams are tied towards the end of the game, players can easily forget during intense moments. Knowing the difference between a made three or a long 2 is important.

During one of my men’s league basketball game, the game came down to the last 30 seconds. My team was up 3 points, while the opposing team had the ball and ran down the clock to 8 seconds and hit a 3 pointer. I got the inbound dribbled to half and looked up at the scoreboard and saw we were up by in fact 3 points so I expected the team to foul. I dribbled the clock out no player fouled me but was playing tight defense on me. I turned after the buzzer went and saw the game was now tied. Disappointed it was obvious the scorekeeper changed the score really late. The scoreboard above the basketball hoop that the team was shooting on so I wasn’t able to see it properly.

In the end, it’s not the scorekeeper’s fault, had I been keeping track of the score all along in the crucial minutes of the fame, I would have known the score and taken the last shot. I don’t play in the NBA but the score is in view at a glance for players to see at all times.

Keeping Track of Fouls

Bad Foul calls happen in basketball no matter what league or level of play, there will always be mistakes that can result in a player receiving a call that they were not supposed to. Let’s not forget referees are not human.

At any level, players will look at the scoreboard where the fouls are displayed. A player who will commit a few fouls during the game might forget how many fouls he has, yes their coaching staff may tell them but if he sees he has two fouls in the second half, he may realize that he will need to be careful not to get a third. If this happens generally a coach will pull them from the game and then he’s waiting till the second half to return to the game.

Sometimes fouls are called on the wrong player and players who are following their fouls will realize that the foul may have been called on a different player but was added to them, this is a good way to also see and correct the mistake.

Stats Don’t lie

Who doesn’t like stats? More than ever players are aware of their own stats and those of their opposition. Seeing a player with 28 points while still only in the second quarter is alarming to the opposing team. This can let players know who has the hot hand while making the necessary adjustments to deny this player the basketball without the coach needing to tell you.

NBA players love to know their stat line and sometimes this can be a crutch if they’re having a bad game. Seeing yourself going 3 for 12 from the field isn’t fun when you still have half a game left to play. While for some players it may better off not to check your stats at all.

Some players get really upset if they are playing well and the coach subs them out towards the end of the game. Two players, in particular, come to mind, Luka Donic who was one assist away from a triple-double showed that he was visibly upset as he was walking off the court towards the bench as he would sit out the remainder of the game. It is obvious that he knew he only needed one assist as he checked the screen above him.


James Harden was another player who got mad at his coach for subbing him out after having scored 60 points in 31 minutes with still a full quarter left in the game. He was on pace to get close to Kobe Bryant’s record 81, or even reach the seventy mark. It’s obvious these players are not counting their points but being shown on the scoreboard.

Players Examining the Replay

The Replay, some love it some hate it. If you are a basketball player and you are sure the referee made a terrible call you will look up and check the replay. Well, this is completely pointless cause no amount of replays is going to change an official’s mind that they made the wrong call. Most officials will not acknowledge and for good reason. How much trust would you have in an official if they said I made a mistake, they have just opened themselves up to more verbal onslaught.

Basketball referees will not look up at the screen to watch a replay. The call is already made they are not changing it. Most often officials are in fact right, we don’t remember the right calls we focus on the wrong, amplifying the bad call 10 times more than we should especially in key situations when we feel they should have made the right call. Remember you don’t lose a game because of one play.

Regardless a player will look at the giant screen on the Jumbotron and more often than not will realize that they were in fact wrong and did foul. When you’re watching the game pay attention to the ones that complain and you will see when they go to replay that they in fact were in the wrong. Even when the basketball goes out of bounds and off a player’s hand they will argue that it touched their opponent first. Of course, they will say that, whether the ref listens or not is the question, no harm no foul.

Player Injuries

Nothing is worse than a serious injury in basketball, and concern for your own teammate. When an injury happens it’s not in the best interest of the injured player to have other players surrounding them while on the ground. Usually, the physiotherapist comes out and attends to the player.

As you are waiting for the player to get up you may have no idea what happened and are concerned for your teammate. This is where many players will look up to see how their teammate is doing and the extent of the injury that happened when it replays.

Arena Action

Often during an NBA game, there are interviews with famous people sitting courtside that will be interviewed. You may not even realize that they are there until you see them on the big screen. Along with halftime shows and spectator action going on in the stands, you get a better view of the screen.

Just like the fans, NBA players will watch the screen sometimes when there is cheering when the game is not in action. This could be seeing the KISS cam a Dance off and even competitive games between fans to win prizes. 

NBA Jumbotrons according to NBA2k21 Video Game

Some scoreboards may not be totally accurate according to this video. But it is still cool to see what the different arena Jumbotrons look like.

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