Getting pissed off at guys like Manu Ginobili or Anderson Varejao for flopping is de rigeur in the blog world. We're supposed to get all haughty and make fun of how they look like they were shot by a sniper.
But not me. I say leave the floppers alone.
This conversation is hot today because Andrei Kirilenko obviously flopped at the end of the Jazz-Rockets game… and got a call that negated a huge, late basket… and ultimately led to the Jazz winning the game. Rick Adelman was fuming at the refs afterwards (although he should be fuming at Tracy McGrady. 1 4th quarter point in games 1 and 2 combined? Really TMac??)
Walk into any high school practice or summer basketball camp, and there's a good chance you'll, at some point, find kids going through the "offensive foul" drill. It's simple. Someone comes at you… you cup your hands over your jewels… you pick your toes up slightly off the floor (so you're weight is on your heels… its easier to fall that way)… and when you get hit… you let out a LOUD grunt…. and you slide as you hit the ground. Simple drill aimed at getting a simple result: Drawing the offensive foul at the slightest contact.
We're taught to flop.
It takes some perfecting over time. You've got to work the offensive player. You've got to take a couple of hits first. You've got to make it look like each bump is getting progressively more violent. You're baiting him into thinking you'll bang with him… and then you go down. Eventually… you get to be very good at it… and it becomes part of your strategy.
Every coach is trying to find a way to get the other team's star player on the bench. The obvious way to do it is to get him in foul trouble. Draw a couple of good 'flop' charges on him (like Pau Gasol did to Dwight Howard in this clip) and you've not only sent him to the bench… you've won the mental battle. He's pissed off at you… and you've gotten him out of the flow of the offense. I mean… what's a soft guy like Gasol supposed to do… stay on his feet and get torched for 40?
Yes, it gets annoying. And yes, its the equivalent of trying to kick someone in the nuts or scratching at the eyes during a fight. But wouldn't you do it if it meant winning? And tell me this: How different is it than an outfielder trapping the ball when he dives for a liner… but then holding the ball up like he caught it? Isn't he trying to steal a call too?
Which brings me to who you should really get pissed at: The referees.
For the flop to be effective… you've got to get the call (duh). People today have been saying you should make the flop a foul too… or maybe a tech. I've got a better idea: don't call it. For some reason, the 'no call' is becoming a lost element in the NBA. Why slow down the game by forcing the ref to make some kind of call every time there is contact? Why put someone at risk of getting kicked out because he's trying to get a call… like he's been taught to do all his life?
Floppers know the risks. They know they're trying to steal a call… so they know they might not get it. Its up the referees to determine whether the guy flopped or not. If its a flop… then there's no foul. If Gasol goes down against Howard and the ref determines that its a flop… you don't want him blowing the whistle and sending Howard to the line. Punish the flopper by not making a call… leaving a wide open path to the hoop for Howard. A few trips down the floor looking up inside Dwight's shorts while he does chin ups on the rim will discourage the flopping.
So referees… have some sack and swallow the whistle when you see a flopper blatantly hit the deck (or in Allen Iverson's case… when he flops while he's got the ball. Don't call it… let him turn the ball over). That's the best lesson they can learn. Until then… we're going to see a lot more of Manu, Varejao and other flopping around like they were hit by snipers.
And I'm OK with that.