I read a lot about basketball. You read a lot about basketball. We all read a lot about basketball. So we should all be familiar with the excess metaphors or slang words/phrases that make up a very large part of our ballin' diction. Granted, I like many of these phrases. "Hombre" is good. "Three point land" has a nice whimsical feel to it. "Swish" is a high point in the annals of onomatopoeia. "Called for steps" is just about perfect, and "traveling" itself is great. But many more of these words/phrases I do not particularly like. Put another way: I @#@%@#%@# hate them. They are (in no particular order)
1. Playoff Basketball - This may be the worst of them all. It breaks my fundamental rule that slang phrases are not allowed to be exactly the same as a useful non-slang phrase, because that means I have to say the slang phrase in a different (and likely stupid) way. To explain: I can't just say "that's playoff basketball," because then I'm just stating what's on TV in May. Instead, I have to say "PLAAYOFF Bassketball" and nod my head and wear my hat backwards to show my appreciation of Robert Horry piledriving a mascot. I'm not a fan of that. Also, this phrase is too easily confused with "playoff defense," which means good but non-violent defense, and a "playoff foul," which apparently is just "playoff basketball" after you get caught.
2. Hack-a-______ - I didn't like this phrase when it was "Hack-a-Shaq," but at least I understood the novelty because it rhymed and people like that. But when you start hearing "Hack-a-Skinner" or even worse "Hack-a-Biedrins," then the phrase should be taken behind the outhouse and dealt with properly. It's suffering. Stop the suffering. It's like how people attach the word "gate" to every scandal. Of course, "Hack-a-______" does always leave me hope that Jason Kidd will get suddenly get horrible at free throws, so we'll get to hear "Hack-a-Kidd." That would be nice. James White would work as well.
3. Closer - I swear to a Higher Being that this phrase became popular in a basketball context around the same time TNT was pushing the first season of The Closer, which makes it horrible by itself. I mean, it's verbal product placement. It's TV in my mouth. It's Kenny Smith in my mouth. That's disgusting. Also, it doesn't make any sense because the guys who are "closers" are also "starters," which means they've ruined a perfectly good baseball term. Last, I tried to explain to my extremely non-sports oriented friend the difference between being a good "closer" in basketball and a good "finisher"; He didn't even have to tell me "that's idiotic." I just stopped.
4. Run and Gun - Like "Hack-a-Chamberlain," this is a phrase that could only be popular because it rhymes. It doesn't make any sense. Every team "guns." All that "gun" means is "shoot." That's why there aren't any other variations of this. There are no "Run and Dart" or "Run and Hammer" teams. "Gun" is the only option. This means all that people are talking about is a running offense, which is already a phrase and a good one at that. Alternatively, you could just say fast break offense.
5. Banger - It's just dirty. Also, it does not pass another one of my tests: is this a phrase I should use when describing the WNBA? (The answer is "no" if you're crude).
6. Facial - See "Banger."
7. Entry Pass - My ticket is an entry pass. Often, it actually says "entry pass" on it in black light letters. So "entry pass" fails the "uses the exact same words as a useful non-slang phrase" test. Actually, it double fails the test because you would think there would be some kind of metaphorical relationship here, but there isn't. An entry pass is what you use to get inside the stadium. A basketball "entry pass" is what you give to someone who is already inside. So the metaphor is I'm giving somebody inside my ticket? Am I the ticket? Is Dwight Howard the show? No sense there. None at all. Therefore, new phrase needed. I recommend: "Setup pass" or "post pass" or just "pass" as it probably doesn't need a special name at all.
8. Role player - "Star" is a role. "Bench warmer" is a role, "Stephon Marbury" is a role, and apparently "role player" is a role. Yes, that's right. In basketball we have the "role player" role, which is basketball's most redundant phrase since "slam dunk." I vote for just using a more honest system that has three classes: "good" players, "all right" players, and "We have the best job in the world" players. You could also still add "Stephon Marbury" if necessary (but let's hope not).
9. Man's Game - This phrase is fun. It's means pretty much the same thing as "playoff basketball" but comes with the added bonus of a gender stereotype. And apparently here being a "man" means losing your temper when playing a sport (as I know we all hope our sons will one day do). Also, I'd like to point out that's there's something deliciously funny about calling basketball a "man's game." It would be like saying that tetherball or Chutes and Ladders would be a "man's game" if you got pissed and punched the other guy sometimes. Sports aren't "men's games." They're children's games that men play. Finance is a man's game. Or bear hunting. With a knife.
Also note that "man's game" fails the "should I use this phrase to describe the WNBA" test (is that a "woman's game?").
10. Charity Stripe - I actually kind of do like this phrase because it sounds like a seasonal beer. But it's also horribly inaccurate. Free throws aren't charity. They aren't free. There's no such thing as a free free throw. The player taking the shots paid a price (and sometimes a steep one in this "man's game" and especially if it was "PLAAYOFF Bassketball"). So for honesty's sake I nominate a new, more accurate phrase: the Compensation Stripe. Alternatively, we could also just use the phrase "Payback Bar" because it means more or less the same thing and sounds badass.
And that's all I have. Feel free to comment on your shared hatred of these phrases. Or talk about others you hate. It's a lot of fun. Seriously.