One of the hottest topics of controversy throughout this past season in the NBA, brought to the surface in part thanks to Jeff Van Gundy’s regular tirades, was the flop.
With everyone beginning to take notice of the seemingly excessive flopping by NBA players, fans have started to blame specific players, officials, and even commissioner David Stern, claiming it hurts the integrity of the game.
But I ask, why all the commotion?
Was flopping that much more noticeable this season than in years past? Or was it just because a former NBA coach and now analyst brought it to the attention of millions of viewers?
I’m going with option number two.
Despite all the recent negative attention towards this aspect of the game, I am going to break the subject of flopping into four categories, explaining why fans should not be up in arms.
1. Flopping is a legitimate aspect of the game
One thing that drives me nuts is when fans start pointing the finger at a specific player (Manu Ginobili, James Harden, Dwyane Wade) and say they are challenging the integrity of the game of basketball because they take flopping to the “extreme.”
The fact is, these guys are trying to take advantage of an aspect of the game. If the official is going to give you the call, why wouldn’t you flop?
All that matters in a professional sport is winning, is it not?
If an umpire rules that a batter was hit by the pitch in baseball game when actually it just missed the stitches on his jersey, do fans throw a fit when the batter heads towards first base rather than say, “Hey blue, that just missed me. No need to award me with a free base”?
Every sport has its gray areas. Why blame players who try to take advantage of those areas?
It seems foolish to me.
2. David Stern can’t actually enforce a “No Flop” policy
Despite even his best efforts, there is no feasible way Stern could enforce a “no flop” policy.
How would you?
Flopping isn’t a form of cheating, nor is it as obvious as someone trying to throw a punch. It would fall under another gray area (similar to the flagrant one and flagrant two fouls) that would have to be reviewed repeatedly. Even at that, there is no guarantee that NBA officials would be consistent in their calls regarding flops, which is the most important aspect of the game.
Stern could tell his officials to stop rewarding flops, but not many officials are doing that at the moment any way. There are few floppers who regularly receive calls when they aren’t actually fouled.
I’m sure there are many instances when flops get rewarded, but it’s more the exception than the rule.
In any case, a flop usually takes place on the defensive end. If a player chooses to fake a foul, he leaves his opponent with a wide open lane to the basket or jump shot. That is something his teammates and coaches should address, not an official and not the league office.
3. A “No Flop” policy only affects average players
Let’s face it: superstars like Kevin Durant, Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, and Derrick Rose are always going to get those close calls, whether they are flopping or not.
Addressing the issue and making it illegal to flop would only affect players like David Lee, Reggie Evans, and Jarrett Jack.
The superstars get the calls that everyday players don’t. That will never change, no matter what rule you enforce.
4. Flopping doesn’t actually take away from the game
Van Gundy’s biggest argument is that flopping “takes away from the game.”
I find this argument asinine, quite frankly.
Again, it is an aspect of the game. Players in any sport will try to gain the upper hand by taking advantage of specifics areas.
Nobody is flipping off their television when someone takes a flop, nor is anyone talking about all the flops they saw in last night’s game. It’s part of the game.
If there was really that much of an issue with flopping, fans and basketball enthusiasts would have been talking about it 20 years ago when Reggie Miller, the king of flopping, was acting like he got hit by a freight train on a regular basis.
Now you have my explanations for why flopping is a topic that should be dropped. Just because Jeff Van Gundy points something out that is noticeable doesn’t mean you should boycott the NBA until the issue is settled.
Basketball is a game with many gray areas. It involves officials making calls in the blink of an eye. Let’s not make the league’s or an official’s job more difficult by trying to modify the rules towards an aspect of the game that is nearly irrelevant.
And please, stop blaming the players. If you knew a way to gain an advantage in a contest, you’d do the same thing.