The playoffs are among us. LeBron is dominating, Kevin Garnett’s brawling, and the Suns aren’t playing defense (in fact, the rim played better defense on Marcus Camby’s dunk attempt than any actual person did any other time). But that’s not all that’s the same. Phil Jackson complained last week about how Kevin Durant gets way too many foul calls. Sure, he gets a lot of calls. He made the most free throws in a season this year since Michael Jordan. But …
HELLO? A Mister Kobe Bryant is on your team, right? How can you accuse any other player of getting beneficial calls from the refs when your star player is so pampered he might as well be shoving 20s into Joey Crawford, Bennett Salvatore, and the others’ pockets after the game?
In the end, though, I agree with your assertion, Phil. Durantula — whose nickname misrepresents his newborn-yellow-labrador fearsomeness — gets the whistle all the time. But it’s not fair to point the proverbial finger only in his direction. Instead, let’s throw the blame around everywhere! Let’s pay homage to the the biggest floppers in the NBA. The finest actors in the league. The guys who make us laugh, cry, and remind us why we don’t watch soccer.
Here are a couple parameters: (1) These aren’t purely the top floppers — I’ve painfully brainstormed seven categories in which flopping is most apparent; and (2) In the spirit of the exhuasting, over-two-month-long season, I’ve chosen only members of playoff teams (That says something about the success of manipulating the officials, to be honest).
(A) The Throw-Your-Hands-in-the-Air-Like-You-Just-Don’t-Care Flop — Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant
Yeah. One of those.
Bryant and Durant get their share of hard fouls and intimate moments with the hardwood. But that’s not how they get to the line, for the most part. These are the leaders of the Cookie Jar Police. They catch the ball 20 feet from the hoop, get in to a nice mind game with their counterparts — rife with pump fakes and stone-cold stares — and just when that defenders decide to reach in to get a taste …
Up they go, flailing their arms wildly with the negligible contact. Whistle. And they go to the charity stripe. And there’s the other guy, with a mean-spirited “F*** You” written all over his face.
It’s like when you bid $1400 for the dinette set on The Price is Right and the woman next to you bids $1401.
The cookie-jar bodyguards will exists for as long as the league does. And as Durant asserts himself as Kobe’s successor in the category, it looks like we’re in for a long, long period with another great one. But someone needs to butter up the NBA’s newest refs, right? Kobe hasn’t already paid them off, right?
(B) The Come-Back-with-Your-Shield-or-on-it Flop — Manu Ginobili
Manu Ginobili, widely regarded as the league’s most egregious flopper, certainly deserves a place on this list. While being a warrior in the NBA is definitely an admirable quality and all too rare (though I’m sure Manu’s withered knees are getting ready to cash in on their well-deserved pensions), looking foolish is not.
Ginobili’s the guy who heads to the rack and fully expects the hoop, the harm, or both. He gets fouled every time. No exceptions. Or at least that’s how he sees it. So forgive me if I chuckle when he looks up at refs, seemingly pleading, “Hey, ref! Leggo my Eggo!”
Maybe he should worry a bit more about actually leaving the ground on his jumper and less about the waffle robbing of the officials, because his whining is more transparent than Sammy Sosa’s skin.
(C) The You-Can-Do-it-Put-Your-Back-Into-it Flop — Dirk Nowitzki
"That's the most important meal of the day you just stole from me."
I love Dirk’s primal roars after he gets fouled while hitting a jumper with more fade than Brandon Jennings’s hair. But that’s not why the German Shepherd (I just made that up.) makes an appearance on this list.
His condemnation is a penalty for his penchant to draw the off-ball foul. Everyone knows Dirk is so soft a 6-year-old that just drank four Red Bulls could fall asleep on him. So he roams around the elbow, hoping to make a ridiculous contested jumper for two points.
But he has to get the ball first. And that comes by way of entry pass from one of those J players — Jason Kidd, Jason Terry, J.J. Barea — or whichever other player doesn’t want to touch the ball for the rest of the possession (Dirk’s passing out of double-teams is laughable, at best.).
And when Dirk’s defender is doing a good job of denying him the ball, that’s when he gets restless.
Tossing and turning like he’s dreaming about having lost a drinking contest to an Irishman, he reacts to pushes from the defender like they’re those flaming battering rams from Lord of the Rings. And the sad thing about it? He usually gets the call.
To be truthful, the refs, in all likelihood, justifiably think that a soft push to the lower back is enough to send Nowitzki to the Emergency Room.
(D) The Bruce-Willis-is-Actually-Dead Flop — Jamal Crawford
I considered naming this category after the twist in The Game, but all of you who haven’t seen it yet would have come after me angry-mob style for ruining such a great movie if I had (Read: See The Game). I figured everyone knew the Sixth Sense twist. If you didn’t, you were behind the times, so you should be thanking me for catching you up.
Anyway, one of the most unspeakable acts in basketball is fouling a jump shooter. One of the even more unspeakable acts in basketball is fouling a 3-point jump shooter. And Jamal Crawford has more 4-point plays than Lane Kiffin has enemies in Tennessee.
To be honest, though, Crawford milks a lot more out of those ticky-tack elbow fouls than the cow’s willing to give. So when the defender gives him a friendly bump after he goes up for the chuck, he goes down to the floor like somebody’s shooting. And the refs really fall for it more often than not.
Here’s one from his glory days in New York.
I’m waiting for the day he does this with no defender near him and he gets the call.
(E) The “Please! Let me in! That’s my wife!” Flop — Anderson Varejao
Anderson Varejao is only in this league because of his effort. That and his hair, actually (How cool is that mop?). But now that he’s here, he sure knows how to manipulate the guys in gray.
The Civilian Brazilian is probably the most hair-raising (Ha.) player in the NBA, and most of that frustration for other guys comes on the board. Varejao could be getting his leg taped in the locker room when a shot goes up, then run back to the court, check in, and be a viable competitor for the ball. He’s that energetic. And he uses his invasiveness to his advantage with the refs.
He’s jockeying for position to get an offensive rebound behind, say, Dwight Howard. He knows he’s not going to get the board. But he feels Dwight’s elbow lightly graze his chest and he reacts like he just got whacked with a frying pan. Whistle. Loose-ball foul. Dwight Howard picks up his sixth personal foul.
Sounds pretty reasonable, doesn’t it? That’s because it is. And if the Cavaliers play the Magic again this postseason, just keep an eye on the giant brown springy thing. You’ll see exactly what I’m talking about.
(F) The “I’m taking one for the team, right?” Flop — Derek Fisher
Everyone has his opinion about drawing charges in the league. Some love it, and some want to burn David Stern for it. Notwithstanding its divisive nature, it’s one of the most prominent vehicles for flopping.
And Derek Fisher, who is somehow clinging to his never-actually-that-impressive career, is still attached to the offensive foul like it’s his conjoined twin.
Sure, there are times when a charge is appropriate. Like if Robert Traylor were trucking down the lane and sent a stationary Earl Boykins flying like he was 5’5″ or something. But let’s be realistic. There are no guys that short in the NBA.
For the most part, though, it’s just a backward swan dive to coerce a turnover and foul. But I feel for Derek Fisher.
After seeing Russell Westbrook break Fisher’s ankles, knees, and mental fortitude in his unrestricted assaults to the rim on Sunday, I now know that Fisher has no other recourse on defense. He’s simply too small and too slow to defend even the measliest NBA point guard anymore. So just stand in people’s way and don’t do anything else. That’s the right idea, Derek.
(G) The “Oh, the humanity!” Flop — Paul Pierce
"Oh, you've failed me, Rasheed!"
There’s nothing worse than the guy who sprawls out on the floor in agony like his dog died or something. It almost makes me want to change the channel to that Major League Soccer game. Almost. Really, I’m not interested in watching the fake pain.
Unfortunately, it still happens. And Paul Pierce is the most prominent culprit. Then again, I kind of understand. Heck, I’d be crying, too, if my team was crowned the League’s Most Likely to Crash and Burn like this year’s Celtics was (figuratively, of course).
Hopefully Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen, the only two sane players left on that entire roster (No, Brian Scalabrine doesn’t qualify. I swear every shot he takes is a 3-pointer for the crowd.), can get them to focus and not wallow in the misery that will be this postseason.
Paints a pretty ugly picture of the league, doesn’t it? Well, that’s the reality. We’re living among a bunch of babies paid astronomical quantities of money to play basketball.
So Phil, when you decide to criticize Kevin Durant for getting fouled too much, please have some respect, for they’re all flopping. Just because Oklahoma City’s star is volumes better than yours doesn’t mean you have to be bitter about it. Spread the flopping wealth around a little bit, huh?
Questions? Comments? Criticisms? Suggestions? Anything else? Send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.