Politically Correct Sports Terms

Living With Balls put together a list of politically correct sports terms which mainly focuses on football and baseball. I thought I’d add a few that relate to basketball.

Project / Tremendous Upside

A term used in football for a raw quarterback or a player being converted to another position. In basketball, it usually pertains to a player that has very little skill but has all the natural athletic ability to be a star. However, most of the time, projects do not pan out.

The media might say something like: “Hasheem Thabeet is a project, but he’s 7′ 3″ and can play defense and rebound. It may take a while for him to contribute on the NBA level.”

Translation: “This guy can’t play a lick, but he’s SEVEN-FOOT-THREE! Did I mention that he was 7′ 3″? He’s SEVEN-FOOT-THREE! The Grizzlies can coach him up, right?”

Other example(s): Shawn Bradley, Hassan Whiteside, Darko Milicic, Kwame Brown, Robert Swift, Tyrus Thomas, Greg Oden, Anthony Randolph, Jordan Hill; anyone with more physical ability than actual skill

Gym Rat

This is a basketball term, usually used to describe a high school or college player who isn’t very physically gifted but gets by on hours and hours (and hours) of practice. Typically, the player is short, white and possibly the coach’s son. He is a good shooter and is often seen hitting wide open three pointers from the corner because his defender forgets to guard him. He is an excellent free throw shooter.

The media might say something like: “You can’t leave Kevin Kruger open. The kid is a gym rat and you know he and his dad practiced all the time in the backyard.”

Translation: “How is this unathletic white kid taking over this game? All he can do is shoot the three, so don’t let him shoot the three! Force him to dribble, pass…just don’t give him an open three!”

Other example(s): Bryce Drew; Chris Corchiani; Dan Dickau; any short white kid that looks out of place on the court

Defensive Stopper

This is a term used to describe an offensively-challenged player who gets playing time because he is good defensively. He often guards the opposing team’s best offensive player and rarely looks to shoot or score even though the opposing defense leaves him wide open.

The media might say something like: “Bruce Bowen is the Spurs’ defensive stopper, and can really get under the opponent’s skin. He attaches himself to the shooter and forces him out of his comfort zone whenever possible.”

Translation: “Bruce Bowen can play defense and that’s about it. He gets by on hustle, determination and dirty play. Maybe, after years of practice, he’ll turn into a decent spot shooter, but don’t ask him to dribble or do anything creative on the offensive end because he will fail epically.”

Other example(s): Thabo Sefolosha; Luc Mbah a Moute; DeShawn Stevenson; anyone known only for his defense

Character Issues

This term is used throughout all sports, but is often used in basketball to describe a talented player that is a head case. He is usually difficult to coach and often gets into trouble off the court.

The media might say something like: “DeMarcus Cousins is a top two talent in the draft but he has character issues, so he is likely to slip into the mid- to late-lottery.”

Translation: “This guy is a nutcase and there are a lot of teams so worried about his attitude that they won’t touch him with a ten-foot pole. He will never live up to his potential because of all of the other shenanigans.”

Other example(s): Ron Artest, Latrell Sprewell, Zach Randolph, Mike Vick, Rasheed Wallace, Jamaal Tinsley, Ben Roethlisberger; any player with a legitimate rap sheet

Photos from fOTOGLIF

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