Basketball, whether it’s pro, college, or a friendly game in your backyard, is one of the most popular games in the world, but unless you know the right basketball slang terms, your enjoyment of the game might be limited. Or at the very least, you’re going to have no idea what your teammates are saying about you (well, you will, if you miss an easy shot!)
B-ball, as it’s known among urban practitioners of the sport, probably has little if any idea how quaintly this sport began: as a way of keeping kids occupied indoors during rainy days!
It was Dr. James Naismith, a Canadian physical education professor, who came up with the idea of nailing a peach basket on a balcony, and having the students in his class take turns throwing a ball into the “hoop.”
The students were members of the YMCA’s training school. Naismith wanted to come up with a healthful, fun sport where the students would be able to burn off excess energy indoors, and yet have the game be accommodated into the confines of a small gym (which also functioned as an auditorium for YMCA plays and activities.)
It was Naismith who named his new game “basket (for the peach basket) ball,” two words that are hardly basketball slang terms. The game was an immediate hit with the students, and quickly spread to other schools. There was an initial problem, though, with the peach basket: if the scorer managed to land the ball into the basket, the game stopped until they could get someone to free the ball up. The basket, nailed high off the floor, still had the bottom intact!
Naismith and his “basket ball” recruits, though, quickly figured that knocking the bottom out of the basket, and allowing the ball to be returned, bouncing, to the players made the game a lot more interesting.
Afterwards, they also figured out that people watching the game who were sitting in the balcony were unwitting targets in case the ball flew passed the basket. Naismith came up with the idea of using a board behind the basket, to protect spectators. That wooden contrivance, now known as the backboard in basketball, is still in use today.
There are five players on each team in a basketball game, each is intent on throwing the ball through the basket by all the legal means necessary.
A player who is excellent at jumping with the ball can make a name for himself with his “hops” (jumps); if a player is throwing the ball, and it flies the length of the court, but still misses, it’s an “air shot.”
Some players can be annoying, both to the other team and the fans. A guy who stays in one spot without moving (why is he in this game?) is a “parker.” The guy, who, on the other hand, barely gets touched by a ball, but falls down in a fit of exaggerated pain in the hopes of bringing a foul onto the other team, is known as a “flop” (in more ways than one!)
If the opposing team gets the foul, though, the “injured” player who fell down can hardly be said to have “schooled” (taught a lesson) to the competition. It’s just obvious to everyone that the player is faking.
This might be the very player, once he recovers from his “injuries,” who throws what’s called a “brick.” That’s a ball thrown crazily by a player, which almost rightfully misses the basket.
This same guy might also be a “backboard abuser” (a player who relies almost exclusively for rebound shots off the backboard to score.)
This bad player might have quite the reputation as a “doubler.” That’s a b-ball player who walks, then dribbles, then walks the ball (a guy who is guaranteed to annoy a lot of players and fans!)
These are just some of the basketball slang terms in use today, and ones which you’ll almost certainly hear at any basketball gathering.