In the vast spectrum that is human entertainment, there are assortments of players that have been around seemingly since the dawn of civilization. For instance, the Ancient Greeks and Romans both placed a great deal of importance on drama and athletics for their entertainment needs. After all, what better way to pass the “downtime” of Democracy engineering and military “strategery” than taking in some theatre or partaking in a naked pentathlon? Many of the plays we perform and sports we play today are the brood of our ancient ancestors, The Vagina Monologues and Slamball aside. While I do not know the versatility of such entertainers from centuries past, it seems that these days the line between actors and athletes is increasingly thinning. I’m not even talking about athletes in movies, because I can’t imagine “Dumb and Dumber” without hockey great Cam Neely’s portrayal of Seabass, Kareem in “Airplane”, or a “Firestorm” sans Howie Long. No, I’m talking about the thespian nature of today’s athletes on the playing field, or in this instance, the court.
If you’ve been watching the NBA Playoffs, or at least the final five minutes of each game like I have, chances are you’ve noticed the current “flopping” epidemic threatening the integrity of the game. Like when Manu Ginobli, the Tom Hanks of the flop, plummets to the floor in a heap of agony after being grazed by an index finger; or, when Rasheed Wallace goes careening five feet backward after a text-book box out from a guard. This would be a moot point if their theatrics weren’t being rewarded by officials…except they are. Come on zebras, these are world class athletes and this is the Playoffs; if Tim Duncan flails to the court after a nudge from Derek Fisher, use a little common sense. And for crying out loud players, are you not aware of the current technology that can dissect the absurdity of your flop from every angle for the world to see? Now, I know this is nothing new, for as long as there’s been refereed competition, there’s been gamesmanship. But this is why I despised Reggie Miller during his playing days, and is the only reason I don’t respect soccer.
The NBA has to do something to thwart this shoddy behavior, before it’s too late…or is it already? Coaches have been teaching the flop for years on all levels, with Coach K (we’ll label him Spielberg) leading the charge. Do something NBA, and set a precedent for the sport–and while you’re at it, stop awarding free-throws to players that jump into the defender. The League is in danger of becoming a marshmallow-like Euro game, and the veracity of the sport is in jeopardy. Even though the refs might not catch a flop in the heat of action, penalize them for it afterwards. Let them sit for a game with their thumb in their mouths and their blankey on their lap to think about what they’ve done. Let coaches challenge a foul ala the NFL and give the refs a chance to let technology tell the truth. Or, just get up, shut up, and play basketball…and watch this video: