Last month the N.B.A. issued 21 fines and suspensions — a punitive spree that amounted to about $602,882. If all those penalties raised some eyebrows, it was for good reason. The number of punishments in November matched the total from the first full calendar month of the previous three N.B.A. seasons combined.

And that sum did not include fines for the 343 technical fouls and 21 flagrant fouls called in games last month. Those infractions bring automatic fines of $2,000 each.

“Normally, you don’t have that many early in the season, then around the holiday season, you get more, then as you get down near the playoffs, you get more,” said Rod Thorn, the N.B.A.’s president for basketball operations. “This year, it’s started early.”

The league’s disciplinary binge reflected what appears to be a growing impulse in the N.B.A. and the other sports leagues. Fines in American sports have become a fact of life, like a charge at a tollbooth.

Jason Terry, a Nets guard, noted that there were just more ways to get in trouble now than when he entered the N.B.A. 14 years ago.

“Social media, dress code, standing up during the game, uniform regulations — it’s the letter of the law around here, and we don’t have much say in it,” he said.

There is a debate about how much fines affect players. A $5,000 fine for a player making $2,690,875, the median N.B.A. salary this season, would be roughly proportional to a $95 penalty for someone making $50,895, the median New York City household income last year.

The city issues a $95 fine for illegally parking your car in a truck-loading zone — enough money to spoil a morning but probably not an entire day.

Still, Thorn said, the results speak for themselves. He rejoined the league this season — after over a decade working in team front offices — to be its chief disciplinarian. He held the same job from 1986 to 2000. He said that fighting had decreased drastically since his first time and that every rule adopted in his absence had seemed to take hold.

“No one likes to lose money,” Thorn said.

The N.B.A. instituted a rule last season that results in a $5,000 fine the second time a player is caught flopping, or faking contact to draw a foul. The rule has snared some of the biggest stars, including LeBron James of the Miami Heat and James Harden of the Houston Rockets, who was given a $5,000 fine last month. It has not been popular among players, to say the least.

“Fine somebody $5,000 for jaywalking or something,” Terry said. “Five thousand for something on a basketball court? That’s a little much to me.”

Terry may not know that New Yorkers view jaywalking as an inalienable human right. But his sentiment stands, reflecting that players do care about the fines.

Two players were fined $25,000 last month for inappropriate Twitter messages. Mike Woodson, the Knicks’ coach, was fined the same amount for criticizing referees during a radio interview. Two players were fined $15,000 early in November for a popular celebration that has been deemed obscene by the league. Another was fined $10,000 for cursing in a postgame interview.

Some players think these amounts should correspond more closely with individual salaries. A rookie making the minimum, $490,180, is affected differently from Kobe Bryant, who has a league-high $30,453,000 salary this season. (A player does lose a 110th of his salary for each game he is suspended.)

Fines issued during the season are withdrawn directly from a player’s paycheck. For fines issued in the off-season, players are asked to write a check to the league. Once collected, the money is divided between the league and the players union, and the two organizations donate their shares to charitable causes.