Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Simmons and Flopping

In an epic rant about the suspensions and 'what's wrong with the NBA', Simmons touches on something that I've been meaning to write about for awhile (but haven't found the right words):
The single most disgusting NBA development of the past few years? The flopping. Slowly, regretfully, inexplicably, the sport is morphing into soccer -- as exemplified by Kirilenko's swan dive near the end of Tuesday's Jazz-Warriors game that fouled out Matt Barnes, or Kirk Hinrich's perfectly designed flopparoo to draw Chauncey Billups' fourth foul in Detroit Tuesday. I blame the influx of European players for this trend because flopping has always been an acceptable part of soccer; they grew up watching that crap and understood that it could work in basketball as well, especially if you have a group of largely incompetent referees calling the action. So it started a few years ago, it's gotten worse and worse, and now, it's affecting the overall competitiveness of these games.

Here's the problem: Because we don't have any anti-flopping rules, it behooves defenders to fall backward every time a low-post player lowers his shoulder, and it behooves them to slide under airborne players and plant their feet for a charge (even if they might end up breaking the guy's neck in the process). Not to keep bringing up the pickup basketball analogy, but geez ... can you imagine if somebody pulled this crap during a game among friends? The prevailing reactions would be, "What the hell are you doing?" and "If you do that again, I'm gonna sock you." But because the NBA refuses to do anything about the flopping, it's evolved into a savvy defensive maneuver.


Look, I like Anderson Varejao as much as anybody, but if it wasn't for his his penchant for drawing charges, he'd be basically worthless (and I know he's a good energy guy and rebounder).

Simmons' pick up game example is spot on (and this is what I've been mulling over for awhile). The reason the charge is there is to stop players from running people over. It's not to allow guys to undercut the ball handler in mid-air just because "he got there first".

This really bugged me last season during the first round of the playoffs. Both Gilbert Arenas and LeBron would drive the hole, but guys would simply get in LeBron's way to draw charge (and since he's huge, they flopped and drew them). Arenas would drive recklessly to the hoop, literally jump into defenders and draw a block (D.Wade does this too).

Taking a charge isn't a good basketball play, it's a good way to win a basketball game. When you take a charge you aren't going for the ball or to make a play, you do it for the sole reason of making the ref call a charge.

There's been talk of making a flopping rule or calling a foul on the flopper, but that is stupid. That'll just slow the game down and lead to more foul shots. You want to curtail flopping? Stop letting them get away with it.

If Varejao is guarding Tim Duncan in the post, flops when Duncan makes his move and the Duncan gets an easy dunk because Varejao is on is ass... guess what? Varejao might stay on his feet more often.

And to make things easlier, how about instead of letting old men ref games played by world class athletes, we hire young men to do it. You know, people with good motor skills and reaction times. This could solve a lot of problems.

I will say that I disagree with Simmons on one point. He says that flopping has become popular due to the influx of European players into the league. I disagree.

I blame Charles Oakley.

I may not be able to prove this or find any video, but Oakley was the first player that I remember who would run to a spot, cover his groin like he's setting a pick and simply stand there waiting for contact. And he'd get away with it. He made it easy for refs to see that he wasn't moving and he was in position for the charge. Again, was he making a basketball play? Nope. But it worked. Now everyone does this.

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