Hard hat
[ 2007-06-08 11:28 ]

Here's a non-basketball term picked up from a basketball story.

In the run-up to the ongoing NBA Finals between San Antonio Spurs and Cleveland Cavaliers, Spurs top defender Bruce Bowen talked about the task he has on hand to stop Cavs young star LeBron James.

While Bowen, one of the best defenders in the NBA for the past decade, acknowledges the great show James put on during their Eastern Conference Finals against the Detroit Pistons, he was unfazed by the prospect of guarding King James.

He said (Bowen Not Daunted By Task of Guarding James, AP, June 5 2007): "I think it was impressive what he (James) did and going through my mind, it's nothing, because I'm not there, I'm not a Detroit Piston, I'm just watching the game as an avid fan.… and it's important for us to come with our hard hats and be ready to play."

Hard hats?

Yes, that's the question I have for you. What does "hard hats" refer to? And what does "come with our hard hats and be ready to play" mean?

Well, the hard hats refer to the helmets construction workers wear at work. Look out your office window, if you're in Beijing, Shanghai or virtually any other big city in China, you'll probably spot some of them wearing those colored hats toiling around - Where I live, hard hats are commonplace what with building for the upcoming Olympics and so forth.

The helmets are made of toughened plastic to protect workers from injuries.

Obviously basketball players don't come to play with helmets, unlike American football or ice hockey players. They don't even play with the soft baseball hats. So why does Bowen talk about coming to play with their hard hats on?

You see, people who work wearing hard hats are usually doing blue-collar jobs, or simple tough work. Bowen was just making a battle cry calling on the Spurs to be prepared to work hard.

It was natural for Bowen to talk about "hard hats" because his primary job is playing defense - staying in front of an offensive player, standing your ground and not giving an inch. And that is considered blue-collar work, or dirty work in hoopspeak, in contrast to the more glamorous jobs of, say, scoring.

Also appropriate is the fact that the Spurs are from Texas, traditionally known for cowboys who wore their own brand of hard-rimmed hats. The cowboys are known as tough guys, brave, relentless and undaunted by difficulties and hardship, all qualities shared by Bowen and the Spurs.

So therefore, when Bowen talks about the hard cap, he was speaking figuratively. It means it's time to get to work and that he's ready to face whatever King James has to throw at him.

Again, figuratively speaking.


About the author:

Zhang Xin is Trainer at chinadaily.com.cn. He has been with China Daily since 1988, when he graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University. Write him at: zhangxin@chinadaily.com.cn, or raise a question for potential use in a future column.

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