What Is "Ball Don't Lie?"

Rasheed Wallace
Getty Images


The phrase "ball don't lie" is a general response to any situation where an opponent gets a questionable call but fails to benefit; a way of saying that the basketball gods had reviewed the play on some sort of karmic instant replay and decided to set things right.

Imagine: you're in the midst of a heated basketball game. Your man drives to the basket. You nimbly cut off his progress, time your leap perfectly and slap his shot away from the rim. But what's that? A whistle? Can't be! You got all ball!

Your opponent steps to the free throw line, the beneficiary of a call that is clearly incorrect. He dribbles once... twice... and then his free throw clanks off the front of the rim. His second attempt is closer, but bounces harmlessly off the back rim and you corral the rebound.

There is justice.

Because ball don't lie.

Rasheed Wallace

While the words have been heard on playgrounds across the country for years, "ball don't lie" became much more prominent in basketball circles thanks to Rasheed Wallace, who has made it a sort of trademark catch-phrase dating back to his tenure with the Portland Trail Blazers (1996-2003).

At this point, the phrase is so closely associated with Wallace, several people - including current Knick teammate Carmelo Anthony - have encouraged him to seek a trademark.

Ball Don't Lie in Action

Just over a minute after entering the Knicks' game against the Phoenix Suns on December 2, Wallace delivered a hard hit to Luis Scola and was called for a technical foul. Goran Dragic missed the foul shot, prompting Wallace to shout "Ball don't lie!" The referees responded with a second technical, ejecting Wallace from the game after less than 90 seconds of play.

It's more than possible that Wallace's reputation had something to do with the call. The technical fouls brought Wallace's career total to 317 - most of any active NBA player, and rapidly approaching Karl Malone's all-time record of 332. It was his 31st ejection, most in the league since the 1991-92 season.

Ball Don't Lie the Blog

Ball Don't Lie is also the title of a popular basketball blog, founded in 2007 by Kelly Dwyer (@kdonhoops on Twitter).


"He’s the only guy in the league that gets technical fouls for saying, ‘Ball don’t lie.’” - Carmelo Anthony on teammate Rasheed Wallace

This article was updated by Brian Ethridge on 06/10/2015.