NBA Basketball Betting–Pregame Ceremonies


All college and professional sports love ceremonies. Oddly enough, they have more special tributes and ceremonies in professional sports than they do in college sports. There are a variety of ceremony types and they can actually impact the handicapping of a game. What’s nice about this type of situation is that ceremonies aren’t necessarily reflected in the betting line. In some cases, it could result in the line being shaded in the wrong direction due to the ‘public’s’ misconception about certain ceremonies.


Depending on the situation, you can use pregame or halftime ceremonies as a component of handicapping. There’s a reason for that—sports ceremonies have a certain hierarchy based on their significance and the pregame and halftime ceremonies are the only ones that have any significance. At the bottom rung is the ‘in game’ recognition which usually honors a local celebrity, retired journeyman player, or some other person worthy of a quick recognition. They’ll get a shoutout from the public address announcer, sometimes they’ll stand up and wave and life goes on.

The halftime ceremony is usually nothing special. Different teams use it for different things. Some teams use it to highlight local charities, some feature local entertainment while others just throw t-shirts in the crowd and have their mascot dance around. These have no bearing on the handicap of the game whatsoever. Occasionally, a player will have their number retired or otherwise honored at halftime. We’ll talk more about this below.

The most significant honor is the pregame ceremony. Depending on the nature and circumstances of these ceremonies they can definitely have an emotional impact on the teams and players involved. All ceremonies aren’t created equally so here’s some of the types of tributes you’ll run into and how they influence your basketball handicapping.


–HONORING A RETIRED OR RETIRING PLAYER: These ceremonies may be before the game or at halftime. The significance and impact of this type of ceremony will vary with the player being honored. You’ll have to do a little bit of analysis to figure out a) how much the ceremony will impact the emotional energy of the teams/players and b) in what way. Here’s a few examples that should help you understand what we’re talking about.

The Farewell Tour: We recently saw Kobe Bryant’s ‘farewell tour’ as he made his way around the league prior to his retirement. For a player of Kobe’s stature these events serve as motivators for the home team. Kobe has the respect of his peers and in most cases when the Lakers were in town they went out and played hard. This reached an extreme when the Utah Jazz beat the Lakers by 48 points as Kobe made his final trip to Salt Lake City.

Retired Number: You can lump similar tributes under this category. A former great is being honored by his team and having his number retired. In most cases, these are of little relevance to the current team players. When the Utah Jazz retired Pete Maravich’s number it was a nice honor but since ‘Pistol Pete’ never really played in Salt Lake City after the team moved from New Orleans it wasn’t exactly ’emotional’. There are exceptions—back to the Utah Jazz, the number retirement of former head coach Jerry Sloan was very emotional.

–RECOGNIZING A TRAGEDY: In most cases, these are major events—terrorist attacks, natural disasters, etc.–and teams feel a responsibility to recognize the loss before moving on. In most cases, they have minimal impact on the handicap of the game or the emotional state of the players. The mainstream sports media loves to hype these type of situations but the multimillionaire players are so insulated from ‘reality’ that even the most brutal tragedy seldom resonates.

–HONORING A CHAMPIONSHIP TEAM: This is the best situation for any ‘ceremony’ handicapper. Here’s how it works: every year the championship team from the year before gets honored, usually before their first home game. There’s usually a hype video or two, a couple of dignitaries like the team owner speak and then the players receive their championship ring or some other memento. The fans cheer and after a half hour or so the game gets underway.

The home team is usually in no emotional shape to play basketball. They’ve just heard how wonderful they are for the past thirty minutes and they’re feeling very smug and self satisfied having reached the pinnacle of their sport. The visiting team, meanwhile, is seething. At one point, visiting teams stood on the court and watched the spectacle up close. Now they usually stay in the locker room but the emotional impact is the same. They’re fired up wanting to prove that they’re on a championship level.

Making this even better is the way the betting public misreads this dynamic. They’re typically of the opinion that the home team will be extra motivated to go out and win one for the fans, their city, the franchise or whatever. It never works out that way—the home team is invariably emotionally drained and the road team is ready to play hard from the opening tip. Sports betting experts know how to use little factors like ceremonies to their advantage and it’s a valuable concept for you to learn as well.