How many technicals fouls are allowed in the NBA?

There are only 16 technicals allowed in the NBA. In a regular season, a player gets a warning after assessing 10 technical fouls. After committing 16 technical fouls, the player receives one game suspension.

Technical fouls are probably one of the most frustrating things for any NBA player. Under the NBA guidelines, it is specified that an official may give a player a technical foul without prior warning. In this post, we’ll find out what constitutes a technical foul and how many technicals are allowed in the NBA.

What is a technical foul?

technical foul?

A technical foul is a severe penalty given to players on the court, team members on the bench, or the entire team, for unsportsmanlike conduct on an infraction that does not involve physical contact. Basketball players and coaches are always held responsible for what they do on and off the court, saying or doing anything that’s against the league’s rule aren’t tolerated and will be penalized.

Common Fouls and Violations in NBA


Technical fouls can be called on players or coaches on the court. There are 6 distinct categories of technical fouls in the NBA. This includes excessive timeouts, delay of game, conduct and fighting fouls.

Excessive timeouts

If a team runs out of timeouts and still tries to call one, the other team gets a single free throw and possession of the ball.


A technical foul that is rarely called is for a player not subbing into a game properly. Players are required to “check-in” at the scorer’s table located on the sidelines before starting the game. If they do not check-in correctly, they are liable for a technical foul.

Delay of game

If a player or coach prevents the game from continuing, they are given a delay of game initial warning before receiving a technical foul on a second offense. This is usually called when a player touches the ball after their team scores a basket.

Number of players

If a team has less or more than five players on the court, a technical foul is assessed.

Basket ring, backboard or support

If a player hands or grabs onto the rim, backboard, or support to take advantage of other players during the game, a technical foul is assessed. However, there is an exemption in instances where an injury is being prevented and the player must hang in order to avoid contact with another player.


Violations such as misconduct are one of the most common types of technical fouls. These are unsportsmanship like technicals that include swearing or arguing with a refereee. A player that receives two unsportsmanshiplike technical fouls is ejected from the game.       


While fighting is uncommon in today’s NBA, there was a time when it was fairly common. Technical fouls and automatic ejections are issued for players who fight, as well as a fine of up to $50,000.

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How much is the penalty for technical fouls?

technical fouls

What happens when a technical foul is called? The penalty for a technical foul differs from one league to the other. Let’s take a deeper look.

College Basketball

Before, opposing teams used to be given an opportunity to make two free throws on all the fouls committed, however, penalties for “Class A’ and “Class B” technical fouls changed in the 2015-2016 season. A “Class B” technical foul example is, hanging on the rim— the penalty for such a foul is one free throw. On the other hand, two free-throw attempts are awarded to your opponent for any “Class A” technical fouls assessed


In high school, the penalty for all technical fouls is the same. Two free-throw attempts are awarded to your opponents, followed by the possession of the basketball.

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How many technical fouls before a suspension?

Fouls like hanging on the basketball rim, delaying the game and having excessive players on the court are considered to be non-unsportsmanlike. Other fouls such as insulting an official, taunting, and physically abusing an official are unsportsmanlike technical fouls. Such fouls can result in a suspension.

Before getting suspended, a player receives a warning after committing his 10th technical foul. Any player who is assessed with 16 unsportsmanlike technical fouls in a regular league is suspended from playing one game. Committing the 17th foul is followed by a hefty fine of $5,000. A player can also get his second suspension by committing two additional technical fouls after his 16th unsportsmanlike foul.

Playoffs are different— players get suspended after their 7th technical foul and are given a warning on their 5th technical foul. It’s worthwhile to note that suspension and ejection from a game are two different concepts. Ejection happens when a player commits one or two unsportsmanlike technical fouls.

Fighting, participating in a game without permission, and a flagrant foul can result in a player getting ejected from the game.

Who has the most technical fouls in NBA history?

Throughout the NBA and basketball history, we’ve seen so many players committing technical fouls and facing its consequences. Here are some of the players with the most technical fouls in the NBA:

5. Dennis Rodman: 212 technical fouls

technical fouls

From headbutting referees to kicking cameramen, Rodman’s temper often got the best of him on and off the court. His place on the list isn’t surprising at all.

4. Gary Payton: 250 technical fouls

Payton: 250 technical fouls

Gary Payton may be known for his ability to talk as much as he’s known for his ability to throw passes and defend. Whether talking to teammates, opponents, or referees, Payton’s mouth was constantly running. This endeared him to many fans, but it also made him a nuisance for referees.

3. Rasheed Wallace: 317 technical fouls

Rasheed Wallace

Rasheed Wallace may be more synonymous with the technical foul than any player in NBA history. After all, he spurred the rule causing suspensions after 15 technicals when he picked up a mind-blowing 41 technicals during the 2000-01 season.

Wallace’s antics included shouting at referees, screaming “Ball don’t lie,” and in one humorous ejection, staring at a referee. Few players made the art of the technical foul as beautiful as Wallace. He kept it even after spurring the rule-change by the league.

2. Charles Barkley: 329 technical fouls

Charles Barkley

With a deadly combination of Payton’s mouth and Wallace’s complaining, Barkley is the prince of the technical foul. He could have his fair share of humorous run-ins with refs. But his magnum opus might have been a game in 1996 when the new Houston Rocket picked up a technical for bopping referee Jack Nies on the nose.

1. Karl Malone: 332 technical fouls

Malone, more so than any other player on this list, benefits from his two-decade career when it comes to overall technicals. This does not mean he didn’t earn them.

While Malone may not be as synonymous as the other four, his elbows remain infamous as he constantly threw them at other players. When he wasn’t doing that, he was complaining to referees and occasionally talking trash. All of this combined with his longevity made him the overall leader in a record that might be hard to break under current rules.

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Final thoughts

There are many different factors to consider when deciding to give a technical foul. Flow, time and score, language, the number of times a coach has complained, what the coach is complaining about, whether or not the coach wants one are all things that should be given consideration before calling a technical. Some are easy but there are certain situations where excessive technical fouls can result to severe consequences.

Technical fouls, whether during practice or actual game on the court, can change the outcome of the game and get players out of the game. During practice, try to be aware of the foul rules to know when and how to avoid them in the actual game.

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