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News » Saying goodbye to a postseason full of flops 2008-05-30

Saying goodbye to a postseason full of flops 2008-05-30

Saying goodbye to a postseason full of flops 2008-05-30
Manu Ginobili just had the most brutal day of his career.

He's had worse games than his 9-point, 7-rebound effort against the Lakers as the Spurs were bounced out of the playoffs Thursday night. But that was nothing compared to the bitter blow he received earlier in the day when the NBA announced that next year it would begin fining floppers for their pantomime antics.

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The news so totally depressed Ginobili he couldn't even bring himself to give us one farewell rendering of his signature whiplash, I've-been-mortally-wounded performance art pieces.

After enduring yet another postseason of its officials being subjected to comedy pratfalls straight out of a Buster Keaton movie, the league has finally decided too much is enough.

Word that the most flagrant fakers would be fined must have been a welcome development for fledgling NBA fan spokesperson Rasheed Wallace. Sheed spoke for all of us when he eloquently summed up our anti-flopping position after the Pistons' Game 5 loss to the Celtics.

"All that bull(expletive)-ass calls they had out there. With Mike (Callahan) and Kenny (Mauer) -- you've all seen that (expletive)," Wallace said. "You saw them calls. The cats are flopping all over the floor and they're calling that (expletive). That (expletive) ain't basketball out there. It's all (expletive) entertainment. You all should know that (expletive). It's all (expletive) entertainment."

That colorful cri de coeur cost Wallace $25,000. A small price to pay for speaking truth to power. Even as the league was levying the fine, it was, with its new mandate, admitting it had a problem.

Night after night in these playoffs the most incidental contact has been followed by the wild windmilling of arms and an exaggerated butt slide across the floor.

Why? Because it works. Over and over again NBA officials have been hoodwinked by acting jobs that upon further review were truly laughable.

The NBA brought the flopping epidemic on itself by rewarding such unethical behavior (see: San Antonio Spurs) with championship rings. As the league has countenanced the fakery, certain flops have evolved and been perfected over time.

Years ago all we had was "the Vlade" (also known as "the Laimbeer"). On this familiar play the defender commits a blocking violation by sliding into the path of a goal-bound opponent while A) exaggerating his verticality and B) launching himself backward upon contact. This has worked for decades despite replays that often would show a mere grazing of jerseys as the supposed force compelling the 280-pound center to the ground.

This playoff season has seen the rise of two more sinister flops. We'll call the first the Screen Role and the second the Klitschko.

On the Screen Role (not to be confused with the screen and roll), the role of flopper is played by a defender about to be screened. The moving screen is to basketball what offensive holding is to football; it often seems like the refs could call it on every play. But one way to bait a ref into the call is to anticipate the screen, throw yourself into the screener before he's set and then bounce off with a maximum of histrionics, preferably landing at the official's feet. Nobody can make a screen look like a 2-by-4 to the ribcage like Ginobili.

The Klitschko begins by crowding a ballhandler as he brings the ball upcourt. When the dribbler extends his off arm to protect the ball, the defender then launches himself across the court, arms flailing, as if he's been punched by Wladimir Klitschko.

Ginobili teammate Bruce Bowen has mastered this move and executed it to perfection on Chris Paul during a critical stretch in the third quarter of Game 6 in the conference semis. Bowen was running alongside Paul when the 175-pound point guard lifted his right arm and set it on Bowen's left hip. Upon feeling contact five feet beyond the 3-point line, Bowen flung himself so far and so convincingly he suckered an official into whistling Paul for his fourth foul with 9:50 to play in the third quarter.

Despite minimal contact 30 feet from the basket, Bowen did not conclude his performance until he had run beyond the baseline, as if it took him that long to regain his balance after receiving this crunching hit. (Ben Wallace also grifted the refs with this move in the Eastern Conference semis, convincing them that a flick of Paul Pierce's left wrist at midcourt had sent his chiseled frame sprawling.)


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Author: Fox Sports
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Added: May 30, 2008


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