Home Features The Largest Sports Fines in NBA, NHL and NFL

The Largest Sports Fines in NBA, NHL and NFL

Inking a contract with a professional sporting league is a big step forward in an athlete's career, and it usually comes with a sizable salary. Fans typically see players' lavish lifestyles through their social media profiles, but they don't necessarily see where their money goes.

Players agree to follow the rules and restrictions established by each league's committee when they place the pen down. Although the rules vary according to each sport, breaking any of the game's principles will have repercussions and significant fines. Over time, critics have begun to wonder whether athletes' behaviour has become more relaxed or whether league standards have become more stringent. In any case, even the most skilled athletes pay a price for their mistakes.

We collected data from sporting league analysts and investigated the total amount of fines that have been paid by NBA, NHL and NFL athletes. If you’d like to learn more about this interesting topic, keep reading.

NBA Fines


For athletes in the Eastern and Western Basketball Conferences, the National Basketball Association has a set of severe restrictions in place. During the 2015-2016 season, the NBA slapped a total of 815 players with fines totalling $2,146,000.

You might be wondering what the league does with all of the money that it collects from its athletes. According to a spokesman for the National Basketball Players Association, Dan Wasserman,  the NBA and the NBPA split the fines equally and send them to their respective charities. The organization has been questioned about the money flow because it does not reveal which charity receives funding in the media.

DeMarcus Cousins, the Sacramento Kings center, does not only lead his club but also the NBA in player penalties. The majority of Boogie's fines originate from technical fouls, but 10-game suspensions have cost him up to $806,956 since the 2012 season. Technical fouls incurred during games are the primary source of all player fines. Carmelo Anthony and Russell Westbrook are two of the most popular players in the NBA. George Hill, the Utah Jazz's newly acquired point guard, has racked up the second-fewest number of fines, with only $28,000 being paid out over the course of his eight-year career.

Team Spirit


While teamwork is a big part of what sporting leagues success depends on, this is not the case when it comes to finances. The NBA’s sporting teams and organizations dole out millions of dollars to lure new and upcoming talents to their respective teams. The money is typically said to go to moral causes but also serves the purpose of investing in the growth and skills of their acquired and interested players.

The Sacramento Kings appear to be leading in two areas: Northern California and league punishments. The Kings have been fined a total of $1,714,287 for on-court and off-court misconduct. The 2013 NBA Finals contenders, the Indiana Pacers, round out the top five highest-fined teams with $1,036,478 in fines. Perhaps these organizations could take a page from the Utah Jazz, who have paid the least amount in fines and penalties with a total of only $107,000.

Checks All Round


It might not come as a surprise to many fans of the NBA, but almost all players, regardless of their position in the team, pay an average of a certain amount of fines for every season. Common knowledge of the game and research have revealed that technical fouls are the main reason that players are fined.

Centers tend to have the highest average fine amount of about $2,941 per fine among the five positions on the court. Due to the amount of time they spend occupying the court space near the basket, this position is likely to be accused of more fouls. Small forwards are known for taking a more aggressive approach to the basket, and they fall in the bottom two by paying an average of $2,256 per fine. Shooting guards are the ones who make the longest shots and pay the fewest average fines of $2,135 on average. It appears that their precise ball-handling talents pay off in more ways than only on the scoreboard!

Paying Up


Between their league contracts and other endorsements, basketball players earn the most money. From the viewpoint of NBA athletes, what may appear to be a large sum of money to the typical consumer is pennies on the dollar.

P.J. Tucker, a small forward for the Phoenix Suns, has paid the largest percentage of his earnings to fines of any current NBA player. Tucker has surrendered 1.91 % of his $2.6 million average annual pay throughout the course of his five seasons in the league. DeMarcus Cousins, aka Boogie, is following closely behind him with 1.66 %. These ballers should reconsider their conduct the next time they're tempted to break the rules.

NFL Fines


The NFL, like other major North American sports leagues, has created an on-field code of conduct that all teams, players,  coaches, and team staff members must adhere to.

Unlike the National Basketball Association, the NFL makes it clear where the money raised from player fines goes: to programs that help former players. All fines will be handled through the NFL Foundation and the Gene Upshaw Player Assistance Trust, according to an agreement reached between the league (NFL) and the Players Association.

Dion Jordan, a defensive end with the Miami Dolphins, has established himself in the league in some fashion. Jordan is now the NFL player with the highest fine for substance misuse. Jordan received a 22-game suspension and a $6,920,634 fine for violating the NFL's substance-abuse policy. Jordan sits at the top of our list thanks to an additional $7,875 penalty for an aggressive face mask call.

All Together


Despite the fact that NFL teams spend significantly less than their NBA counterparts, they have been fined well over a million dollars.

Given that the highest-penalized athlete in the sport, Dion Jordan, plays for the Miami Dolphins, it's no wonder that they've paid the most fines. After being fined $8,880,091 for violating league rules, competing in paradise must be challenging. The Oakland Raiders, who are trailing the Fins by $6,884,276 in salary, are emptying their coffers. These clubs could learn a thing or two from the 2016 Super Bowl runner-up, the Carolina Panthers, who were fined $459,520 for their transgressions.

Gigantic Gains


It's safe to assume that no one is immune to penalties when the results are split down by position on the field. The average highest- and lowest-charged fines among all positions on the field are attributed to a team's offense.

Among other offenses, such as facemasks or poor sportsmanship,  excessive roughness is among the most common causes of sanctions. Roughness is inevitable when a right tackle's job is to physically drive defensive players back from the quarterback or running back. Every time a right tackle crosses the line, they pay an average of $180,780 in fines (not literally). Defensive ends, who are known for their rough play, pay an average of $124,305 in penalties.

The center has two key responsibilities on the offensive line: snapping the ball and blocking assignments. Centers can also dedicate the largest chunk of their compensation to their bank accounts because they pay the least amount of money each fine at $22,152.

Paying Up to Play


A contract with the NFL is a once-in-a-lifetime chance for football players. It may be tough for some to cope with the real shift that comes with their sudden money. Unfortunately, Martavis Bryant and Trey Watts have both forfeited nearly half of their salary due to substance addiction.

Paying Checks


The NHL is noted for issuing the fewest fines among the three popular American sporting leagues studied. Other considerations, of course, come into play here: due to the violent style of the sport, fewer penalties are called. Despite the fact that numerous players have been penalized, no one has yet to receive a million-dollar fine.

The goal of the fund is clear: to help former athletes and their families who are struggling financially. Coaches, organizations, and staff members are all subject to sanctions if they fail to uphold good behaviour.

Alex Ovechkin, the highly-rated left winger for the Washington Capitals, leads the league in fines. Ovechkin is noted for his high scoring and powerful hitting. After boarding Brian Campell, Chicago Blackhawks defenseman in 2010, the Russian-born skater received the highest fine. Ovie was hit with a two-game ban and a fine of $232,645 for his actions. Penalties don't seem to bother him much, as he and goaltender Braden Holtby guided the Capitals to the most points in the league during the 2015-2016 period season.

Team Effort


When compared to the NBA and NFL, NHL teams pay less than their counterparts in the other sports.

The Toronto Maple Leafs, who are based outside of the United States, are the team that has paid the most fines to the league. Perhaps the players and coaching staff are enraged by their strong Canadian roots and die-hard fans, but losing $801,854 for violating the rules must be devastating. The Leafs could learn a thing or two from their southern rivals in North Carolina, the Carolina Hurricanes, who received the least amount of fines of any team in the NBA, NFL, or NHL, at just $21,074!



The rules of hockey stipulate that a team can only have six active members on the ice at any given time. Left wings, on average, lose the most money each fine ($47,673). The primary reason for this is that For this aggressive position, technical fouls are a typical occurrence. Because Ovechkin has increased his personal number of fines paid, the left-wing distinguishes itself from the other player locations on the ice.

Paying the Piper


Athletes in the NHL have a tendency to save their money. Except for Jonathan Drouin, no player pays more than 4% of their salary in fines. Drouin, a left-winger for the Tampa Bay Lightning, was chosen first overall in the 2013 NHL draft. Sadly, Drouin was suspended indefinitely for failing to report to the AHL during the 2016 season, costing the promising prospect a staggering $225,945, or 12.21%, of his wages. Drouin's ban was eventually lifted, and he was sent back to the Syracuse Crunch AHL for training.


Through 2016, we gathered data from sporting data analysts and providers on all NHL, NFL, and NBA players' cash earnings, position and organization information, fines and suspensions and reasons for fines. Each player's fines were totalled throughout the course of his or her career.

Info Sources

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