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This is an expression that I don't really know the meaning of when applied to basketball playing: "Plays with a lot of flair"

Can anyone elucidate the meaning for me?

EDIT: after reading a couple of answers, I still don't know if people will usually refer to enthusiasm or to skills/ability/elegance. There are sports where one and the other don't mean the same. In actual fact, in many sports, people who are highly-skilled and elegant don't usually play very enthusiastically...

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what part of it do you not understand? Do you, for example, understand the phrase "he talked with a lot of enthusiasm"? The definitions for flair –  Matt Эллен Mar 4 '12 at 12:48
    
Or similarly "she runs with a lot of speed"? –  Matt Эллен Mar 4 '12 at 13:24
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4 Answers 4

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In the context of basketball, I think "flair" refers to style of play. Some players thrill the specatators with pizazz and flourishes; others have an effective but much less flashy style.

Perhaps the easiest way to comprehend it is to see it.

John Stockton and Bob Cousy were both diminutive point guards with prolific careers. Both were regarded as among the best players at their position during their era, yet their style of play was markedly different.

Stockton played with solid fundamentals; in all likelihood, any youth coach would love to have a middle-school point guard who idolized John Stockton, and strove to emulate him.

Cousy, on the other hand, had an thrilling and unorthodox style that electrified the home crowd, with behind-the-back passes and eye-popping impromptu ball movement.

In other words, they both played great, but Cousy played with more flair than Stockton.

That said, don't just take my word for it:

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I agree; in this context 'flair' means 'style'. This may be less obvious to those who don't follow the sport. –  Mark Beadles Mar 4 '12 at 19:49
    
Brilliant! Thanks! –  130490868091234 Mar 5 '12 at 8:38
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If you knew the meaning of the word "flair", you'd understand "Plays with a lot of flair" immediately. Flair means a natural talent and elegance that is distinctive and stylish.

Wish this would help.

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I still don't know if people will usually refer to enthusiasm or to skills/ability/elegance.

There is no "usually". Flair has a lot of different meanings and it can be hard to tell without context.

  1. Talent/knack
  2. A tendency to do something.
  3. Distinctive/appealing style, panache, pizzaz
  4. Enthusiasm/oomph/verve.

However, the context can usually help.

  • Has a flair for (something) = usually means definition #1 or #2
  • (Does something) with flair = usually means #3 or #4

Still, these are just generalities and you often can't tell for sure without additional context. Consider:

He has a flair for basketball. Even from a young age, he was setting high scoring records. (talent for play)

He has a flair for shooting, even when his teammates are open and waving for the ball. (tendency for shooting over passing)

He shoots the ball with flair, especially his outlandish jump shots. (panache)

He plays with flair, displaying a palpable energy throughout the entire game. (enthusiasm)

(Forgive my contrived basketball examples, as I was trying to maintain the sports theme.)

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Flair can mean either aptitude or enthusiasm, and its use is not restricted to sport.

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I still don't know if people will usually refer to enthusiasm or to skills/ability/elegance. There are sports where one and the other don't mean the same. In actual fact, in many sports, people who are highly-skilled and elegant don't usually play very enthusiastically... –  130490868091234 Mar 4 '12 at 14:13
    
I'm not familiar with the idea that flair means enthusiasm - it only ever means impressively stylish talent to me. –  FumbleFingers Mar 4 '12 at 17:40
    
OED (again!): ‘Power of “scent”, sagacious perceptiveness, instinctive discernment. Also in weakened senses: (a) special aptitude or ability; (b) liking, taste, enthusiasm.’ –  Barrie England Mar 4 '12 at 18:10
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