Basketball Idioms

Basketball is a relatively young game. Whereas football and baseball developed gradually from games brought from other countries, basketball was invented in the United States late in the nineteenth century by a Dr. Naismith as a game to be played indoors during the winter. The “basket” in basketball refers to the fruit baskets used for goals in the early days of the game. Other societies, such as the Aztecs, have used balls and rings on walls, but the rules were different.

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Each team in basketball has five players, a center, two guards, and two forwards. The game is played on a rectangular court with two baskets attached to backboards at each end. The object is to score by throwing a rather large ball into a goal or basket, which is mounted ten feet above the floor. Players may “dribble” or bounce the ball with their hand or pass (throw) it to a teammate, but they may not run or walk with the ball unless they are dribbling. Players may not hit, shove or hold other players to prevent them scoring, but they block passes, throws (“shots”) to the basket, and take the ball away while a player is dribbling.

Play is started by possession of a jump ball in center court. When a player walks with the ball or if the ball goes outside the lines of the court (“out of bounds”), the opposing team puts the ball in play by throwing the ball to a teammate on the court.

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IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
A basketball game is started by the referee throwing up the ball between two players who try to tap it to a member of their team. It is also used when two opposing players have joint possession of the ball.
Sentence 1
The referee called for a jump ball because she could not determine which player controlled the ball.
Meaning 2
Control issues: The inability to determine anything.
Sentence 2
It is a jump ball. The two proposals are so close.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
a defensive maneuver where the team closely guards their opponent from baseline to baseline
Sentence 1
The Celtics were behind and put on a full court press hoping to change the course of the game.
Meaning 2
an aggressive defense
Sentence 2
In order to get the contract, we will have to get everyone involved in a full court press on the other company.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to shoot the best one can
Sentence 1
He gave his best shot at the target and made a bull's eye.
Meaning 2
to do one's best
Sentence 2
See what you can do. Give the assignment your best shot.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to defensively try to stop the offense, man to man, as opposed to zone or area defense
Sentence 1
The basketball team's man to man coverage was successful. They won the game.
Meaning 2
to assign one or more men/women to the same number of people in another business
Sentence 2
Remember now, we're in tight man-to-man coverage: one boardroom executive whispers to another as the visiting team of executives arrives.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
a shot made by jumping in the air over the basket and throwing the basketball into the basket
Sentence 1
Michael Jordan slam dunked the ball to win the game for Chicago
Meaning 2
a decisive action which was easy to accomplish
Sentence 2
We got the merger. I slam dunked the deal.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to throw a ball into something; to shoot at something with a gun
Sentence 1
I' ll take a shot at that basket. Take a shot at at that deer.
Meaning 2
to try to do something
Sentence 2
I'll take a shot at taking the murder case, even though it's difficult.