Mail it in? 偷懒耍滑


Reader question:

Please explain "mail it in" in this sentence, a comment on Michael Jordan: "Jordan played every game like it's his last. He always gave it his all. He was never one to mail it in."

My comments:

Michael Jordan, the basketball player, is arguably the best to have ever played the game. He always gave it his all, done his best, left everything on the floor.

Jordan never took a day off, as they say. He never spared any effort. He never went through the motions.

He never mailed it.

To mail it in is literally to write a letter telling, say, your teacher or employer that you're sick and bedridden, that you're probably dying, that you, hence, cannot participate in the planned tree planting exercise, or the 10-kilometer run or any other such strenuous endeavor.

Then you put the letter in an envelope and mail it in - saving yourself even a trip to inform your teacher or employer of your decision in person, face to face.

By skipping the day and refusing to show up - let's face it, both you and probably the teacher or employer know that you're faking an illness, and not for the first time, either - you're allowing yourself to be a quitter.

Well, I'm not mincing any words but I think you can understand.

Anyways, metaphorically speaking, people who mail it in generally don't give any effort in what they do - that is, even if they do show up for work. They go through the motions, so to speak, run the floor (another basketball term), do the work without breaking a sweat or paying attention.

In other words, making only a half-hearted effort.

And that's not what Michael Jordan ever did, or attempted to do. He never stopped giving his best, no matter if he's winning or losing. That's why he's Michael Jordan, having won six championships in his career.

Well, no more ado, here are media examples of the American expression, "mail it in":

1. For some of us, it may have started while he was still in Cleveland. For the rest of us, it may have developed during the summer of 2010.

But I'm sure that we can all say that LeBron James is hated by 90 percent of NBA fans. (the other 10 percent being Heat fans. And I use that term loosely for all those bandwagon jumpers.)

Anyway, in light of LeBron's recent efforts (if you can call it that) in the NBA Finals--I have decided to take my talents to this slideshow and attempt to rank the top 10 reasons why the vast majority of basketball fans hate "The King."

(Although this may come off as an angry fan rant, just seriously consider the points. By no means was this article composed to tarnish LeBron's reputation, but just to highlight why many fans regard him as the league's top villain.)


3) Giving Up on Cleveland

Hey Cleveland, does any of this sound familiar?

"I got a goal, and it's a huge goal, and that's to bring an NBA championship here to Cleveland, and I won't stop until I get it."

If you make that kind of promise to a miserable sports city that hasn't seen a championship since 1964 from the Browns, you have to stick by it. And did LeBron stick by it and fulfill this promise? You guessed it, no.

In perhaps his most disappointing playoff performance in his career, James completely mailed it in against the Boston Celtics. In the last three games of 2010 Eastern Conference Finals, James shot a miserable 33.9 percent from the field, averaged just 21.3 points, and committed 19 turnovers.

Coincidentally, the Cavs lost all three of those games to Boston.

He looked as if he didn't want to play and it translated into his poor performance. James had finally decided to put away with all the pressure, played a weak series, and probably knew, at that exact moment where he was walking off the court, which team he was going to that summer.

- Down with the King: Top 10 Reasons Why We Hate LeBron James, by Anthony Rizzuti,, June 15, 2011.

2. There is one trait in anyone who communicates for a living that is invaluable. It separates stars from those soon to enter the sales end of the business. It is authenticity, and ESPN’s Stuart Scott knew that better than anyone.

Scott died yesterday at the age of 49 because there is a disease or beer truck for each of us – regardless of how hard we battle.

When Scott came to ESPN for the launch of sister network ESPN2, he was exactly the same guy that stood on the stage at the ESPYs six months ago to share his love of life and capacity to refuse to accept defeat as he battled cancer. That was his genius – knowing that his best chance at success was to represent exactly who he was.

No one in media is guaranteed success, even if they are able to condense their image into the true essence other best selves, which is what Scott did during every highlight of every Sportscaster he anchored.

Scott never mailed it in, or failed to deliver on the promise his brand represented. Young viewers loved him and the old hated him. No problem there – the enemy of the media is not in viewers/listeners/readers loathing them, it’s indifference. No one was indifferent about Scott.

- ESPN’s Stuart Scott leaves legacy that will inform young broadcasters forever,, January 5, 2015.

3. Stephon Marbury’s NBA career crashed and burned, leaving him hopeless. He had run out of options and was nearing the end. Thankfully, the Chinese Basketball Association reached out and wanted to give the former star one final chance. Marbury accepted the offer and turned his career and life around through a series of remarkable, seemingly scripted events, all while becoming one of the most beloved people in China. Here’s how Stephon Marbury went from NBA outcast to Chinese legend.

1) The Best of Brooklyn

To understand Stephon Marbury and why, from the outside, he was such a polarizing character, you’d have to make a stop in Coney Island, a section of Brooklyn. An overcrowded urban area, Brooklyn — and New York at large — produces some of the best basketball players in the world. Legends are made on the tough outdoor courts that dot the urban landscape.

Streetball’s roots trace their way to the cracked concrete courts of New York. To stand out and make a name for yourself in these parts, you have to thrive in an environment not conducive to whiners, foul-callers, and complainers. If you can make it in New York, you can make it anywhere. With Stephon Marbury, that adage proved to be true.


22) Putting A Stamp On Success

However, attracting thousands of fans to Beijing to see Marbury’s personal spectacle wasn’t nearly a great enough effort to show China’s appreciation for their unlikely saint. The next honor Marbury received was a custom set of postage stamps that featured Marbury during his playing days for Beijing.

Although some would say that Marbury mailed it in while playing for the Knicks, the meaning took on a totally different meaning in China, where receiving a postage stamp is revered.

After the stamp, where Marbury’s already ubiquitous face could now be seen in even more places, Marbury was dubbed an honorary citizen of Beijing. Following that symbolic gesture, Marbury was then informed that a museum bearing his name would be built in his honor.

- The (Really) Long Road To Glory: Stephon Marbury’s China Redemption,, October 17, 2018.


About the author:

Zhang Xin is Trainer at He has been with China Daily since 1988, when he graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University. Write him at:, or raise a question for potential use in a future column.

(作者:张欣 编辑:丹妮)

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