Flopping is Good for the NBA

Dwyane Wade’s superhuman right arm mauls Chris Paul to the floor. What strength!

When I was good at basketball way back in middle school I remember my opponent charging down the lane. I was ready for the contact and when he reached me, I flopped. He stopped in time, but the trailing ref gave me the call.

You know the feeling when you tease your little sibling and they retaliate, but they get in trouble, not you?

— Or for the less fortunate, remember the feeling your older sibling got when it was vice-versa?

I felt I deserved the reward because I outsmarted the referee.

Starting this season, the NBA is looking to issue fines or other penalties for “flopping.” In layman’s terms, if I force you to fall over, okay, but don’t pretend the Hulk threw you from the three-point line to the elbow.

I get it, but I’m not a fan of these penalties. Flopping is part of the game.
(Here’s my favorite flop of all time. Skip to :20)

If 5-5, 135 lb. Earl Boykins is charging into the lane, and there’s 6-11, 240 lb. Dwight Howard ready to take the charge, is it flopping if Howard falls over to get the call? Boykins could hit Howard at 10 miles an hour and he may not budge.

**I was curious about this, so my inner nerd did the math: Essentially, if an equal-weight human barreled into Howard at just under six mph, he would probably fall, but you get the point.

Where’s the line drawn?

Howard will want to “flop” to convey the contact denotes a foul, but when should he get fined for doing so?

I think the league is going to have a lot on their plate if this rule is added to the game. Professional players who have sold fouls their whole life now need to change a deeply embedded basketball mindset, forcing them to think, not react.

I would be mad if I’m Dwyane Wade. Flopping is an art, and he’s good at it.

I feel this should be Wade’s stance on flopping: “I’m going to flop. If I get the call, great, if not, then my defender has extra room to work with.”

Why not tell the refs to swallow their whistle more often?

Watch a mid-90s contest between the Bulls and Miami Heat, or Knicks and Pacers. There was much more contact and what I think was a better game.

Granted, with the violence byproduct and today’s emphasis on safety, we won’t see that style of basketball anytime soon. But watch Scottie Pippen and Charles Oakley fight for rebounds and tell me you’re not entertained. I digress.

If the NBA implements penalties, I would hope all flops be reviewed following the game, similar to how the NFL treats illegal hits. I don’t think a majority of fans want a flop to count as a technical foul.

I can’t officially make the argument “These new rules are bad for the NBA” because the flopping rules are still being tweaked, but if the NBA implements a flop-free game, it will cause more problems than it solves.

Kobe Bryant’s Class Gives Kevin Durant Scoring Title

In 1941, Boston Red Sox’ Ted Williams went into the final day of baseball’s regular season batting exactly .400. While he could’ve sat out – Boston was 17 games back of the first place Yankees, Williams understood batting .400 wouldn’t mean as much if put himself before the team. Williams went a combined 6-8 in the doubleheader (Game 1 Game 2) – on his way to the .406 batting average we haven’t seen since.

According to this story on ESPN.com, Bryant will sit out in the final game of the season against the Sacramento Kings tonight, forfeiting a chance to take home his third career scoring title. He needed 38 points to beat out Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant, who played their final game of the regular season last night.

Kobe had the chance to smack ESPN in the face tonight. By scoring 38, he makes an argument he’s the best player in the NBA, not the seventh best according to a preseason rank on NBA on ESPN. Remember, this comes in the same season he had to adjust to a coach not named Phil Jackson and a Scottie Pippen not named Derek Fisher. He has not let his basketball stardom fog his vision of another NBA title – basketball’s ultimate measuring stick.

In today’s story with ESPNLosAngeles, Kobe said, “It’s not a challenge for me to score 38 points, you know? … We know I can go out and score 38 points. The most important thing is sending the right message to the group which is putting a championship above all else. That means rest. That means letting other guys play. That means us getting ready for Sunday (for the playoff opener).”

Yeah…Kobe is exactly right. We do know he can go out and score 38 at whim. He’s the only player in the league that can say that without a backlash of pseudo-news and debate on Twitter. Let me know in the comments if you disagree. LeBron could say it and be truthful, but we love hating LeBron too much to let a comment like that slide.

While Kobe could use father time to school the younger Durant, he didn’t. He showed class. He conveyed he’s not bigger than the game. It was refreshing, and I think it reminded basketball fans how special Kobe is.

When we look back on Kobe’s career, there will be an unofficial asterisk next to Kobe’s amount of scoring titles. In a sports era where asterisks are associated with negativity, this asterisk will reiterate how special Kobe was.

“Yes son, Kobe only won three scoring titles way back when, but he could have had a fourth if he decided to play in the final game of that 2012 season.”

Remember when Jose Reyes voluntarily sat out of last season’s finale to ensure his batting title? Yes he won, but sports fans partner his batting title with, “Yes, but he sat out the last day of the season to ensure he would win,” communicating he put himself before the team.

Rest up Kobe. A third scoring title doesn’t look as impressive as a sixth championship.

Andrew Bynum is Not a Winner

The Lakers are a better team without Andrew Bynum. Their career 1-8 three-point shooting center has a lot of growing up to do.

With 16 seconds left on the shot clock in Tuesday’s game against the Golden State Warriors, the Lakers’ Andrew Bynum launched a three pointer from the top of the key. He missed by a mile and was benched about a minute later. (I think he would’ve been benched even if he made the shot.)

But making the blatantly poor decision did not bother me as much as his attitude following it. Listen to Bynum’s body language in Tuesday’s post-game interview:

Subjectively, he sounds nonchalant and conveys a care-free persona.

Objectively, Bynum’s response at the 1:06 mark troubles me. “Why did you shoot the three?”

“I made one last night and wanted to take another one.”

“I” wanted to take another one, so “I” did. Bynum indirectly admitted he is a selfish player at times (at best). Bynum knows he belongs nowhere near that three point line, yet consciously chucked it up anyway.

It shows immaturity and an individualistic mindset. It shows Andrew Bynum’s attitude is detrimental to the Lakers’ locker room. Unfortunately, I believe his decision to shoot the three was a way of saying, “Yanno coach…I really don’t care what you think.”

**In my opinion, the Kobe and the Lakers are fed up with head coach Mike Brown. In his defense, replacing arguably the greatest coach in basketball history plus inheriting a veteran franchise is not an easy task.

Still, Brown will catch a lot of heat. Bynum’s interview begs the question, “Coach, do you have control of the locker room (let alone Andrew Bynum)?” Mike D’Antoni didn’t.

Do Bynum’s seven-foot frame and above average basketball skills eclipse the negative baggage his attitude elicits? Yes, the Lakers won two championships with him, but as he gains seniority, will Bynum’s pro/con baggage tilt in the opposite direction? I think within a year or two it will. What is his “negative attitude ceiling?” It doesn’t help he can’t stay healthy.

The Lakers’ biggest win would have been to trade Bynum in a package deal for Orlando’s Dwight Howard, but that’s a rant for another day.

“Intangibles” is the most underrated stat in sports. We drown ourselves in numbers, but give me a stat for locker room presence. Does this individual catalyze or retard the team’s progress?

It’s the one stat the sports world is missing, but at least now I know where Bynum ranges in the category.

Top 10 NBA Player Commercials

I found this great list on Buzzfeed.com of the top 10 commercials featuring NBA players.

Personally, I think they missed this one below. It was the NBA’s opening promo to the 2011-12 NBA season on Christmas Day. How long did this take to edit?

Now is when the NBA lockout hurts

Tonight was supposed to be the opening tip-off of the 2011-12 NBA season. Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavs were set to tip off against Chris Rose and the Chicago Bulls, the Rockets were supposed to take on the Jazz, and a quintessential old school vs. new school match up was set in Los Angeles when one of my new favorite teams, the Oklahoma City Thunder, were to try and convince Kobe and Derek Fisher they’re too old to ball.

The NBA was set to continue riding the sport’s highest popularity since the end of the Jordan era. ARE Kobe and the Lakers too old? Can the Heat win not 5…not 6….not 7…but one NBA championship? Are the Knicks ready to bring basketball back to the newly renovated garden?

As a huge basketball fan, I’m sincerely disappointed I’m not watching basketball right now. While both parties bicker back and forth while simultaneously halting paychecks for all, Mark Cuban knows even if there’s not an NBA season for the next ten years he can light up a cuban of his own – with one of his 10 million $100 bills. Heck even role players like Brad Miller and Antonio Daniels know regardless of what happens their kids can still attend any college they can think of.

But not the arena employees. Not the sanitation worker who works his butt off to make $9 an hour to support his family. The vendor who gives you your $10 beer and $6 hot dog? He’s looking for work. She’s living paycheck to paycheck.

No one wins from this lockout. David Stern said the players are losing 170 million dollars every two weeks of canceled games. The owners are probably losing more, and the fans are losing the right to be fans.

Every year I mark my calendar for opening tip-off. Every year I tell myself, “Hey, maybe they can pull off a miracle.” Being a Knicks fan you have to think that way because we’ve flat out sucked for 10 years. From 2002 until last year, this was the only week I could look at my team and think maybe this game has playoff implications.

But even if the Knicks lose 82 games this season, they’ll be in first place on opening night. It’s the one time of year where everyone is equal. The Timberwolves have the same pride as the Lakers, and the Royals the same as the Yankees. As a basketball fan, I feel I have a right to that sense of pride.

Will there be an opening night this year? I hope so. I hope the two sides can work out a deal soon. I mean really…

Don’t we pay you guys enough already?