Do NBA Players Really Get Arrested More Than Usual? (No, Stop This)

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Because this is an enormous waste of everyone's time and brain energy, but also because you should have at least a functional grasp of how stupid it is, here is a very quick rundown on how often NBA players are arrested, compared to the rest of the country.

U.S. Population

To recap: Minnesota state representative Pat Garofalo tweeted, "Let's be honest, 70% of teams in NBA could fold tomorrow + nobody would notice a difference w/ possible exception of increase in streetcrime." He later clarified himself, saying, "I was talking about the NBA's high arrest rate and that their punishment for positive drugs tests are weaker than other leagues. No intent beyond that." So we thought we would see how high they really are.


As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 308,745,538 people in the country. For concurrency's sake, we pulled the arrest accounting for 2010. There were 13,122,110 total arrests that year. Disregarding anyone who was arrested twice, this is 4.25 percent of the population. Minnesota fares a bit better. As of 2011, Minnesota had a population of 5,303,925 reported, which accounted for 178,469 arrests, for a 3.36 percent arrest rate.

This is, however, a comparison against the entire population. Maybe NBA players are actually more violent than males in their age group, which we'll define here because that's how the census presents it. By those data, there were 29,808,343 males 20-34 in the U.S. in 2010. In that same year, 3,928,463 males in that age range were arrested, for 13.18 percent. We will not get too far into black arrest rates (27.86 percent; again, higher for young males) more than doubling that of their representation in the population (12.6 percent), but believe this is relevant to whatever point Pat Garofalo was trying to dislodge from his ass.



According to, 469 NBA players appeared in games in 2013-2014. This number does not include players who were rostered, but never saw the floor, and because this exercise is idiotic, and I can actually feel my will to live fading with every keystroke, I am not going to bother to dig up the other, much larger number. Anyway, there were 469 active—well, "super-active," I guess—against nine arrests for NBA players in 2013, according to Arrest Nation. This includes a citation, not an arrest, for Michael Beasley, Ty Lawson showing up twice, and Boobie Gibson taking a second-degree battery charge, even though he was not on an NBA roster at the time. As a point of accuracy, Gibson was the only instance of what could be called "street crime"—though this shouldn't diminish the incidence of domestic violence in the other arrests.


That is 1.92 percent, and obviously high because we didn't bother to dig out players who did not appear in games, or to sift through any who appeared in the latter half of the 2012-2013 season. Garofalo also alluded to players acting as though they are above the law, but we do not have data on how often they—or other wealthy Americans—are given a pass by police.

So, no, this is not a difference of opinion, or an agree-to-disagree kind of thing. If anyone would like to run a more thorough examination on the matter, please go right ahead.


Chart/illustration by Tommy Craggs