I?d like to start this column off with a few disclaimers.
1. I enjoy watching Manu Ginobili of the San Antonio Spurs. He is Sarunas Marciulionis Version 2.0, except new and improved and a higher skiled player. He is one of the toughest players I have ever seen?on the offensive end (well not entirely, I just now watched a play in which he drove the hole, incurred a touch foul, and flailed his arms in the air as if the world was ending.
2. I love the sport of Soccer, or as the rest of the world calls it, football (for the sake of continuity, I will refer to the sport as Soccer throughout the remainder of this piece). Being that I grew to 6?6? I was more suited for Basketball, however, I enjoy the sport of Soccer and was even part of the bandwagon of US fans who awoke early to see the United States team lose to Germany in the year 2002 World Cup. A very enjoyable match I must say.
With those disclaimers on the record, this column can officially begin.
There has been an anger building up inside of me, a great frustration and annoyance that should not be.
As I write this, there is a disease spreading throughout the NBA and while it has been going on since the league?s conception, it is more prevalent now than ever. I am talking about the infliction known as excessive flopping. Big NBA bodies flying across the hardwood after incidental touches and strong gusts of air. The site of an elbow or any kind of tough grinding play is now sending players sprawling before contact is even made. At the top of my list sits Manu Ginobili of the San Antonio Spurs, my public enemy #1.
My frustration with flopping finally came out in a subdued-quasi-Pabst-filled rage that took place at the end of Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals. The last two minutes of the Phoenix Suns fight for survival saw Manu Ginobili make extremely difficult plays on the offensive end, each drive displaying a toughness that does not seem to fit his smaller body. But on the defensive end it was another story as I was forced to watch Ginobili violently twist his head at weird angles, his hair whipping to and fro, while his body would launch several feet in the air. And this is before the contact.
Anyone watching Game 4 remembers the Amare Stoudemire rebound at the end of the game, a crucial board that was immediately followed by a bear hug from Ginobili which resulted in the well-built youngster clearing the ball, and Ginobili with him. For a regular person with Manu?s build and toughness this act would have launched them back a bit. For this Argentian actor, it sent him sprawling across the key in a flop very reminiscent of the flops seen so frequently in any given soccer match. The only thing Ginobili neglected to do was to hold his knee in agony as if he were about to die. This knee-clutch would then be followed by a quick pop back up to his and a sprint down the court as if nothing ever happened. At least we were spared that.
During the next possession, a loose ball, Ginobili dives for it in a great display of hustle and heart, however in the dive, he manages to commit a foul which was never called, contort his neck awkwardly and wince in pain, as if somehow, the Suns player in front of him had miraculously caused him to fall that way.
Now, in this particular case, I must give credit to the referees. They made the right calls and did not let Ginobili?s acting influence the game?too much. But, the fact remains, Ginobili does get a lot of calls his way after flailing in the air like a dove with broken wings. And this is spreading, because winning is everything, and if flopping helps a player win, he will inevitably do it because if he doesn?t, his opponents will.
To combat this plague, I propose a rule similar to an amendment that was added for the 2002 World Cup making it official that if a player flagrantly flops in an attempt to cause a foul and as a result, land a free-kick, they are given a yellow-card instead.
This new rule wasn?t entirely effective, but it did make the players think a bit. So, the next time Ginobili thinks about contorting his body into a mangled heap to draw a foul, he will have to be pretty sure there will be contact, lest he be given a technical.
This rule would not end flopping in the NBA; however, it would make players aware that if they are too blatant, too often, they will start getting technical?s on a regular basis.
Nice players who often flop would find themselves with more T?s at the end of the year than Rasheed Wallace in his Portland days. Seriously! The most prominent floppers would be on every referee?s hit list and would have to eventually clean up their act.
Just so it does not look like I am picking on Manu Ginobili only, here are just a few others on my NBA?s most wanted list, Floppers Division.
- Seattle Supersonics center Danny Fortson ? How is it that the thickest/strongest guy on the court manages to fall down so easily so often?
- San Antonio Spurs point guard Tony Parker ? His flops are no doubt a result from watching numerous soccer matches while living in France.
- Philadelphia 76ers guard Allen Iverson ? This is a tough one, while I do recognize that he plays harder than anybody in the league while also being one of the most undersized players, there are many times when I see him hit the ground on a drive when there was very minimal contact, if any at all.
- Former Utah Jazz forward Karl Malone ? See Danny Fortson.