Nothing But Net: NBA Fan Tips For The Best Game Experience

Photo: Gregory Shamus / Staff (Getty)

Tipoff is set for the 2018-19 NBA regular season on Tuesday, October 16, and it’s shaking (and baking) up to be an epic one if big crossovers like LeBron heading to the Lakers have anything to say about it. There’s likely to be plenty of new fans attending their first pro basketball game so we’re lobbing up some major life hacks, starting with these 10 tips below for attending your first NBA experience!

Using Ticket Resale Sites

The early bird gets the affordable ticket. If you’re looking to save money, there are sites, such as StubHub, that offer resale tickets and have a tendency to sell lower as the game date looms closer. There’s a reason why ticket reseller sites are so popular, and sometimes those tickets can give your wallet a break or land you better seats.

Coming Prepared

Finding that favorite team to cheer on is kind of a given when becoming an NBA fan, and sports apps like NBA Game Time and ESPN are must-haves if you want to stay updated on the latest news. Now that you know who’s injured, each team’s current stats and what’s at stake, you’re ready to head out. You don’t want to show up in Cleveland and be disappointed to find out everybody hates Lebron again.

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Gearing Up 

Before walking out the door, make sure you’re ready to rep. You can pick up new, customized or discounted jerseys at the official NBA store website. You don’t have to settle for expensive jerseys to get your team spirit up. Whatever you feel like rocking — shirts, shoes, hats, pants, bling, socks, a little team flag or hand towel to wave around — now’s the time to get your gear game on fleek. People still say that, right?


Parking costs usually fluctuate depending on ticket price, team, and venue, but sometimes they’re more than the actual price of admission itself. Budgeting around $25 should be a safe bet. Like any event, arriving earlier will give you a better chance of finding ideal parking spots, and you can always check out the area beforehand to see who will be offering spots closest to the arena.


Dominating the Concessions

Food and alcohol at basketball games usually aren’t horrifically expensive, but there are ways to avoid spending. I usually try to eat right before especially to avoid having to miss part of the game (and soak up those early beers), but that doesn’t work for everyone. And some people are there just for the beer.

You can always try to sneak in food, as some venues will even let you bring your own (unlikely though) so do your homework. As far as BYOB goes, you can pregame and taxi or flask in the jacket. Or maybe just don’t be that token belligerent fan slurring at the refs.

Timing Your Breaks

If you do end up grabbing refreshments in the arena or need a bathroom break, make sure you time it well. Going at halftime will be a bitch because that’s when the majority of the crowd goes, but once the players hit the court it’s the best way to avoid missing the action. Try to prepare as much as possible before tip-off, or at the very least only leave your seat during the first half.

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Knowing When to Leave

We get it, you want to beat the foot and car traffic. Who doesn’t? But the Earth is overpopulated so there will always be a crowd, and there’s always going to be traffic. You paid good money for the chance to watch your team in person so stick around for the full experience. We’ve seen people walk out not realizing that they just missed one of the craziest comebacks in their team’s season. Do you really want to carry around that kind of regret?

Avoid Being A Dick

Remember that alcohol will be permeating the air and there’s always a chance some jerk is going to take their frustrations out through belligerent yelling. Don’t be that asshole who kills the mood, but don’t be the other asshole who eggs him on. One of the worst memories I have from my last sporting event was a guy a couple rows back screaming relentless bullshit at one of the players who couldn’t even hear him anyway. That’s definitely not the experience anyone paid to see.

Limiting Your Social Media

People will tell you to keep your face out of your phone, but let’s be realistic. The best advice we can give is to attempt limiting the amount of time spent on your device during the game. Grab a couple pics and videos early on, post some updates, then risk back and relax (or stand up and cheer) without the risk of missing something you wish you had seen with your own two eyes, instead of through a filter.

Budgeting For Souvenirs   

When your team wins the big game and your adrenaline is running high, it’s hard to stop yourself from dropping big bucks on souvenirs on your way out. Why do you think they put those tables by the door? We certainly understand the temptation, but to avoid the inflated costs keep in mind that you can grab awesome gear and merchandise elsewhere if you would rather save some money.

Save that money for the dry cleaner when you (probably) puke on yourself in the ride-share home.