In Basketball What Does Dropping Dimes Mean? Explained

Basketball has no shortage of slang and weird terms. At times, you’ll hear fans and officials mentioning players ‘dropping dimes.’ But what does dropping dimes mean in basketball?

Dropping dimes is a term used to infer a difficult pass. The event needs the player receiving the ball to make a two- or three-point shot. In turn, the seemingly ordinary pass becomes an assist. However, the word ‘dimes’ doesn’t appear in official basketball reference sheets and reports.

Where did the ‘dropping dimes’ term originate? Also, how is this slang used in basketball? Read on to know the answers to these questions. Furthermore, continue reading to know who the best dime-droppers in the NBA are.

basketball dropping dimes

Dropping a dime, or simply a dime means to complete a difficult pass in basketball. The person receiving the ball needs to shoot the ball to score a point. Therefore, the athlete making the difficult pass in the first place will be awarded an assist point. In other words, the basketball player awarded with the assist dropped the dime.

What is the History of the Slang Dropped a Dime?

How did the term ‘assist’ become a ‘dime?’ The origins of this basketball slang have no verifiable source. However, the answer with the best clarity comes from a slang popularized on the East Coast, specifically within Philadelphia.

Here, dropping a dime means calling the police to notify them of an investigation. It’s because payphones in the Philadelphia area need an individual to drop 10 cents or a dime to make the call connect.

Aside from calling the authorities, it could also mean that the caller would drop a 10-cent call on a payphone to call for assistance. For example, an individual drops a dime into a payphone to call the authorities to help a homeless person.

Nonetheless, a common theme exists between these two origin stories and that is the concept of helping. Therefore, if a basketball player is the originator of a successful assist, that athlete dropped a dime.

How is a Dime Used in Basketball?

Basketball announcers and sportscasters are the usual suspects for coining the dime slang. For example, a team’s sportscaster can say, ‘he tried a triple-double but was one dime short of achieving the deed.’ This statement means that the player already has nine assists, but flirted with fate to come up one assist short of achieving a rare triple-double achievement.

Some announcers can also use ‘dime’ in phrases. For example, a sportscaster can announce that the arena is ‘raining dimes.’ If so, one player has been making successful assists throughout the match.

Who are the NBA’s All-Time Assist Leaders?

Many basketball enthusiasts would appreciate any highlight done on the court, and that includes successful passes. Some NBA players have the skill to know when to pass for their teammates to score points. After all, basketball is all about teamwork, and there is no ‘I’ in teamwork.

With that said, here are some of the best NBA players who excel at being assist leaders or ‘dime droppers’ in the league’s history.

1. John Stockton

John Stockton

John Houston Stockton’s debut season was on the 1984 to 1985 playoffs. He ended his NBA career in 2003 at the age of 40, allowing him to pursue and continue his professional basketball job for 19 solid seasons.

Throughout his career, Stockton accumulated many points in blocking as this 6-foot 1-inch point guard for the Utah Jazz became a seven-time league leader in this category. But it’s not only his blocking skills that are commendable as his assist game was on point as well (no pun intended).

The NBA and many basketball fans regard Stockton as the king of assists. His 19-year NBA career allowed him to provide his team with 15,806 successfully dropped dimes. Stockton was also the league leader for assists for nine consecutive seasons from 1987 to 1996.

2. Jason Kidd

Jason Kidd

Born in March 1973, this 48-year-old NBA player started playing in the NBA playoffs at the start of the 1994 to 1995 season. Jason Kidd ended his professional basketball career in 2013, allowing him to rack up more games than Stockton.

Like Stockton, Kidd is also a point guard, although he took on the mantle of a shooting guard before he left the league. But he came up short of dropping more dimes than Stockton.

Nonetheless, Kidd was able to astound the sports world with his amazing feats in providing assists to his teammates. The 12,091 dropped dimes were enough to make basketball fans go wild.

3. Steve Nash

Another point guard that has the habit of making a lot of successfully-dropped dimes is Stephen ‘Steve’ Nash.

Nash played for and with NBA teams for 18 seasons from 1996 to 2014. His two- and three-point scores were quite good, and he was quite the outstanding free-throw shooter. However, his accumulated points were fairly average compared to dedicated three-point shooters like Ray Allen or Stephen Curry.

However, Nash shines the best when he assists. He became the league leader in assists in three consecutive seasons from 2004 to 2007. Nash would also reclaim this title two more times in the 2009 to 2010 and 2010 to 2011 seasons. Nash left the NBA with 10,335 successful assists.

4. Mark Jackson

Mark Jackson

Mark Jackson was a point guard for multiple teams, including the New York Knicks, Indiana Pacers, and Los Angeles Clippers. He is also one assist short of being tied with Nash for the 3rd rank for the best assisters in NBA history. In detail, Jackson was able to make 10,334 successful assists before he quit the league as a player in 2004 but returned as a coach for the Golden State Warriors in 2011.

5. Chris Paul

Chris Paul

Chris Paul, aka ‘The Point God’ and ‘The Skate Instructor,’ is the point guard of teams like the New Orleans Pelicans, Los Angeles Clippers, and Houston Rockets. Paul didn’t stay in the NBA as long as Stockton or Kidd, but he was still able to rack up a considerable amount of dropped dimes. This 6-foot NBA player from North Carolina made 10,169 successful assists during his professional basketball career.

Other Notable NBA Players with Considerable Assists

How to Improve Assists and Reduce Turnovers

Assisting or dropping dimes in basketball seems like the ordinary action of passing the ball from one player to another. However, it’s more than that as assisting in this sport requires a sufficient level of skill. Otherwise, attempting to throw the ball to another teammate might make it land in the hands of an opposing player.

Here are some quick tips to help you improve your assists and reduce turnovers in basketball.

Final Words

The phrase ‘dropping a dime’ can sound strange, especially when used in basketball. However, some fans and announcers like to coin the term to make the successful assist sound better than intended. Also, take note that some NBA players throughout the league’s history are known to drop more dimes than many other athletes in the association. You too can achieve this great achievement by practicing drills to improve assists and reduce turnovers.

Got Sports Questions? Search For In-Depth Answers Below!

Recently Published

Scroll to Top