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Universal Language


For basketball fans and fanatics, the beauty of the game is in providing a common platform for communication, with no barriers across languages and cultures.

When we step onto the court, communication takes place even without words. Every player knows that look when you are calling for a pick, or the elegant simplicity of the give-and-go play. With its broad, universal appeal, basketball players from all over the world are able to create beauty on the court through the international language of hoops.

Of course, players and fans all over the world have also developed their own unique language for describing the game. Beyond the more straightforward terminology like ‘three-point shot’ and ‘no-look pass’, here are a few of the more unique terms that we might hear on the court.

Bunnies: Generally used to describe a player with major hops, hence the term. The best leapers in basketball show a strong resemblance not just in terms of their vertical leap, but also the quickness of their second jump.

Wet: Associated with shooters who are so accurate that their shots barely even tingle the nets, in a phenomenon also known as ‘splashing the nets’. Their shots are so pure that you hear nothing but the sound of the nylon as they fall through.

Saucin’: Just one in a long line of food-related metaphors in the game, this phrase is apt for the flashy player who has just a little much mustard going on. They cook their defensive match-up in a variety of ways as endless as the condiment table at a good buffet.

Cookies: Used to describe a clean steal from a ball-handler in the open court. This act of thievery is so brazen that it brings to mind the schoolyard bully snatching cookies right out of an innocent child’s hands. 

Iso: Short for isolation, star players like to call this out when they feel like they can take their defender to school. Isolation is never a good feeling, especially when you are stuck on an island with a cold-blooded assassin like LeBron James or Kevin Durant staring you down.

Article written by Wong Chin Yi. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of the NBA.

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