In this headline of a story about Yao Ming – Can T-Mac and Yao get over the hump (www.msnbc.msn.com, October 17, 2007) – what does "hump" mean?
"Hump" first reminds one of camel's humps, the two big lumps it carries on its back. The camel is known for surviving days and weeks without food or drink. That's because of the humps. Fatty energy is stored in there, preparing the animals for the leaner days, hence the saying "living off one's hump", being self-sufficient and not relying on help from others.
The word in question here, however, has nothing to do with a camel's humps. In fact what's in question here is not the word "hump", but the phrase "get over the hump" as a whole. One easy way to remember this phrase is to liken "the hump" in "getting over the hump" not to the humps of camels but to the humps of hills and mountains – imagine what it's like to "get over the hump" in mountain climbing. After scaling the mountaintop, the rest of the journey will be going downhill instead of uphill. That will be easy, relatively speaking.
When people are said to have gotten "over the hump", therefore, they are said to have conquered the most difficult part of a given task. The rest, hopefully, will be easier.
In the case of Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming, their "hump", or their biggest obstacle, has been the first round of playoffs. T-Mac has played in the NBA for ten years and Yao Ming five, but neither has advanced past the first round. It is hoped that this season, with a new coach (Rick Adelman) and a new system (that gives players more freedom in offense) in place, T-Mac and Yao can finally "get over the hump" and win a first-round series. By then, they will hopefully have turned the corner – 柳暗花明 – and may go all the way for a championship.
That's that for T-Mac and Yao. I hope by now, you've gotten over your own hump with this very phrase.