I like the NBA so I check any article if I spot them.

Anyway, this article has this line by Trump,

“I think [the kneeling] has been horrible for basketball,” President Donald Trump said on Fox Sports Radio in August. “Look at the basketball ratings. They are down to a very low number. They have enough politics with guys like me. They don’t need more as they are going up for the shot. There was a nastiness about the NBA the way it was done, too. The NBA is in trouble. Big trouble. Bigger trouble than they understand.”

Question 1 : What does Trump say when he says "they don't need XXXX". What is the direct object? Politics?

Question 2 : What does this line mean

as they are going up for the shot.

By the way, even after I was given the answer and I accepted it, I still don't understand what Trump is trying to say.


3 Answers 3


It's Trump. His English is at best semi-grammatical at the best of times.

They [The NBA, or the players in the NBA]

don't need any more [politics]

as they are going up for the shot. [ as they are approaching the basket to make a shot]

But please don't use this man as an example of how natural English should be spoken. There is casual English, and there is bad English. Trump speaks very badly.

  • 1
    Not using him as an example might be good advice in general, but this particular example sentence is perfectly grammatical.
    – PC Luddite
    Oct 12, 2020 at 19:27
  • 3
    @PCLuddite I think that there are two issues: 1. This particular sentence is a bit hard to glean meaning from, whether grammatical or not. Understanding the grammar may be useful to a student of English, but is often secondary to understanding what information the sentence was meant to convey, and 2. Making an assumption that a Trump statement has correct grammar, and a student just needs to invest effort to understand why that is the case, is a poor assumption likely to cause problems for English language learners.
    – Upper_Case
    Oct 12, 2020 at 20:50
  • @Upper_Case it's both grammatical in an academic sense, but to your point about this being a learner's site, it's also idiomatic. The phrase "going up for the shot" is pretty much a staple phrase in basketball and has some use outside it. Maybe the sentence is hard to glean when written, especially if you're unfamiliar with that phrase, but common idioms are necessary for functional use of any language, and this one's especially useful if the OP is a fan of the NBA. The omission of the direct object (politics) is also a common feature of both written and spoken English.
    – PC Luddite
    Sep 12, 2023 at 0:45

As already mentioned, "they don't need more" is referring to politics.

"Going up for the shot" sounds strange, but I would assume the intended meaning is one of the following:

  • Figurative: they "go up" to the basket in the same way you would "go up" to a stage or to the front of a class. This is often used for something that's elevated (i.e. a literal meaning), but the expression wouldn't sound out of place to me if it's referring to something that's not elevated. I would understand it roughly as referring to a focal point for observers where the important things happen. This might make sense for a free throw more so than just while playing the game in general.

    This is the meaning that makes the most sense to me.

  • Literal: they go up, i.e. jump, in order to reach the basket and take the shot to score. Although I'm not sure that's actually called "taking the shot" in basketball. On the other hand, I'm far from an expert on that. A similar meaning would be them going up from where they're standing (i.e. standing up straight or jumping) to take the shot from there.

  • Idiomatic: it's a variant of "going in for the kill" applied to basketball.

All of the above mean roughly the same thing here though: they try to score.

So overall it just seems like a strange way to say: they don't need more politics distracting or bothering them (presumably) while they're playing the game.

The different instances of "they" seem to be referring to the ratings, the viewers and also the players, if not also basketball as a whole. It's not clear which one (or ones) he's saying doesn't need more politics.

  • 1
    A google search shows that the phrase "going up for the shot" does have some usage, mainly associated with basketball.
    – Herohtar
    Oct 11, 2020 at 6:30
  • Unfortunately i do not see the point of this answer, which basically says: "I have no clue what it means." "Going up for the shot" is a completely commonplace idiom, meaning (obviously) "finishing off a job, the last stages of something". Obviously, the basketball finals are finishing off. (Actually - they finished last night!)
    – Fattie
    Oct 12, 2020 at 15:53
  • 1
    @Fattie Language is often ambiguous. When something can mean multiple things, it would be close-minded to assume one and only one of those interpretations are correct and an answer that only presents one of those would be incomplete. Given the upvotes on this answer and that the 42-score answer posted by a high-rep user 3 days ago doesn't seem to acknowledge that meaning at all, I strongly doubt the meaning is as obvious and commonly used as you seem to think. As a side note, your uses of "completely" and "obviously" comes across as quite condescending (but then so does a lot of what you say).
    – NotThatGuy
    Oct 12, 2020 at 16:02
  • TBC @NotThatGuy I surely love most of your answers. I'm afraid in this one you're basically saying "you're not sure, but I'll write an answer anyway!" :) :) Your 3rd guess ("idiomatic") is closest, but wrong. It's a totally commonplace idiom that just means (pretty obviously) "last stage, finishing off, near the end". Regarding your comment that I sound condescending - well ... essentially, I'm sorry and I'll try to be, well, less like that.
    – Fattie
    Oct 12, 2020 at 16:19
  • Regarding voting on this site (and ELU) it is famously totally irrational, and often just velocity based. Note that the highly rated answer here is very poor and should probably just be deleted. (Astonishingly this IS NOT an example of a "Trumpism" !! - very poor grammar etc. It's an absolutely, perfectly, completely clear sentence.)
    – Fattie
    Oct 12, 2020 at 16:21

It couldn't be simpler.

"going up for the shot" means you are in the last stage of something.

(For example, say you are about to finally finish a long project at work, it's the last week, you are finally about to send it to the client, so you are finally "going up for the shot".)

Quite simply as you probably know the basketball season is just about to finish. That's all it means - simple.

"[Politics has been bad for their ratings, and] They don't need even more politics, since, the season's coming to a close."

Couldn't be simpler.

  • 1
    I'm sorry I don't think so. Trump wanted to say "The NBA do not need to do their politics because their main job is to shoot to score to win the game". I stumbled on the conjunction "as".
    – user17814
    Oct 12, 2020 at 17:32
  • Hmm. I've written and edited native English for decades and (coincidentally!) worked for some of the world's biggest sports teams in other fields. Also, having worked in TV advertising for so long, I'm very familiar with sloppy, colloquial language :-) :-) It is splitting hairs, but I don't really see a "main job is..." sense there. But sure, the sense is something like "they don't need more politics 'during the game/season'"
    – Fattie
    Oct 12, 2020 at 17:41

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