We got five but white shorts has two down if you wanna run…  –jargon often heard on the basketball court.

Tweet me questions you have about on-court slang or issues you have with any of the terms listed here and I’ll add them  @olmansju

1sN2s to 15: Keeping score giving one point for made baskets inside the arc and two points for made baskets outside the arc with the first team to score 15 points winning.

2sN3s to 21: Keeping score giving two points for made baskets inside the arc and three points for made baskets outside the arc with the first team to score 21 points winning.

2 Down: Two games after the game that is currently underway (the game after next).

3 Down: Three games after the game that is currently underway (two games after next).

5s: Full court, five on five.

And One: What a player says after they shoot in anticipation of scoring despite a foul. On most courts where fouls negate a made basket, yelling ‘and one’ does not negate the basket–just as saying ‘and one’ is not the same as calling a foul.

Alpha-Baller: the best player on the court, often a regular who is known, respected/feared by the other players, who exerts some leadership and influence over the players on both teams.

Ball or Ball in: what a defender will shout just before the ball is checked.

Baller: someone who plays basketball with regularity and/or passion and/or skill.

Buddy-Ball: when two or three friends on a team only pass to each other.

Check: to throw the ball in from the top of the key, often the ball is checked after a foul, after a violation, or after a dispute over the score is settled (in South America the ball is often checked from the sideline).

Dirty: a player who acts in a way that puts other players’ safety in jeopardy.

Fives: full court, five on five

Got one: another way to state that there was a foul (short for: ‘I got fouled’).

Lone wolf: a pickup baller who comes to play without bringing a bunch of friends with him or coordinating with friends beforehand.

My bad: said after a turnover, missed defensive assignment, for blown layup by the person who is taking responsibility.

Next: The next game after the game that is currently underway.

Noon Game / Noon Gamer: a game played at noon usually played by people who are slightly older, have 9-to-5 jobs, and significant responsibilities like spouses and kids–leaving them little choice but to play ball over their lunch break.

One-and-Done: a situation where a team loses the first game they play and decide to stop playing due to how badly they lost or how long they would have to wait to play again

Own the Court: to win four or more games in a row on the same court

Pickup: (a) playing a game of 5s (b) an invitation to play 5s on a particular team (‘you wanna pickup?’)

Run:Play basketball.

Shoot for it: a way of settling a dispute over if there was or was not a foul, or if the ball did or did not go out of bounds, one person involved in the dispute shoots an uncontested jumper from behind the arc, if it goes in then his team wins the dispute, it it misses then the other team wins the dispute (ball don’t lie).

Silverback: an older alpha-baller with gray hair (which might extend to the chest and back)

Wolf: a work of caution alerting a teammate with the ball that a defender is about to come up behind them and attempt to steal the ball (used as a single-syllable alternative for shouting ‘Watch out behind you!’).


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