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."
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
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.