NBA bans Butler from chewing straws

DALLAS -- One of the first things many people noticed about Caron Butler after his arrival to the Dallas Mavericks is that the guard likes to chew straws during games.

The NBA obviously took notice as well.

NBA executive vice president Stu Jackson phoned Butler on Tuesday and told him to leave his straws at home. Butler did not play against the Los Angeles Lakers due to a reaction to medication, so he was unavailable for comment.

But the Mavs confirmed that the league is serious about outlawing straw chewing.

"It's against the rules," Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said.

"It's a safety issue, period," NBA senior vice president for basketball communications Tim Frank said Thursday.

A local radio sports talk show host encouraged fans to come to Wednesday night's game against the Lakers bearing straws to show their support for Butler, who came to the Mavericks as part of a seven-player trade with the Washington Wizards on Feb. 13.

His Mavericks teammates, including Dirk Nowitzki, poked fun at their teammate by chewing straws during warm-ups earlier this week.

The habit is not new to Butler, who reportedly has chewed plastic straws at a rate of 12 per game for years. He disclosed in a chat on NBA.com in March 2009 that he started chewing straws in games as a teenager.

"It calmed me down," he said in the chat. "Then it became one of those things you keep doing."

It won't be the first interesting habit that Butler has had to kick.

In summer 2009, Butler blogged on NBA.com that he had lost 11 pounds just by giving up his daily "addiction" of drinking at least six 12-ounce bottles of Mountain Dew.

"I was going through withdrawals," Butler said on NBA.com. "... Honestly, those first two weeks without the Dew [were] the roughest two weeks of my life. I'm talking headaches, sweats and everything."

Butler said he used to drink the caffeinated soda before Wizards practice and would "knock back two" before games.

Jeff Caplan of ESPNDallas.com contributed to this story.