Basketball has a particular culture that goes along with it and is full of slang and game-specific phrases. This slang can be a barrier to entry for new fans of the sport, but once you get acquainted with the terms, they’re also a huge part of the fun of the game. One such term that is often used by players and fans alike is ‘go hard in the paint’.
So, what does ‘go hard in the paint’ mean in basketball?
Going hard in the paint in basketball refers to driving hard to the basket and going through the painted area beneath the basket. Players often take pride in their ability to go hard in the paint because it requires significant toughness and skill. The phrase also gets used outside of basketball in pop culture.
Ultimately, though, going hard in the paint isn’t just a catchy phrase. It’s also a rallying cry for an effective strategy in the game of basketball – that is, getting close to the rim and scoring from in tight, even through contact. Let’s look at this concept in more detail together.
How Do You Go Hard in the Paint?
Going hard in the paint isn’t something that requires a great deal of strategy. By name, it relies upon effort more than anything else.
The best way to explain the term is to give an example of it.
Imagine a player out on the perimeter, ball in hand, and with his team needing a clutch basket. This player drives towards the rim, fending off defenders with his body and dribbling ability before rising up to take a shot in close against the tallest defenders on the court. He may even get fouled or knocked to the floor in the process. This is the epitome of going hard in the paint.
Other areas of the game of basketball require a lot of effort and toughness as well. Playing defense is physically taxing, as is having to get out or get back in transition.
Unlike those facets of the game, though, going hard in the paint refers specifically to this maximum effort taking place within the paint itself. As a result, the term is applied either when a player drives to the rim (as in the example above) or physically finishes at the rim, like when a big man posts up and gets to the hoop over a defender.
What Is the Paint in Basketball?
We’ve discussed the paint pretty thoroughly so far in this article – but what exactly is the paint?
In basketball, the paint is a rectangular area extending directly under the basket. It measures 15 feet from the baseline to the free-throw line and is 12 feet wide.
The term ‘paint’ extends far beyond the life of actually going hard in the paint. In fact, the area has long been painted a different color than the traditional hardwood of the rest of the basketball court, lending the area its distinctive name.
Hard in the Paint Origin
Going hard in the paint is a term that was born in basketball in the 1980s, but the exact creator or first usage of the term isn’t known. What is known is that over time players and fans grew to accept the term as a common descriptor of tough, physical play on the court. This makes sense, given that the 1980s and 1990s are often seen as the most physical era of professional basketball.
However, the term ‘hard in the paint’ made the leap into the popular culture mainstream due to something that happened off the court. In 2010, rapper Waka Flocka Flame released a single called “Hard in Da Paint” which quickly achieved widespread success. Since then, the term has been used more widely in different contexts to describe a dogged determination to achieve a set goal.
Still, going hard in the paint will always be a basketball term, and will be more at home on the court than anywhere else.