It is once again time for the NBA playoffs, and I am glued to the television set. Having my own hometown Denver Nuggets in the mix just adds to the excitement. Why yes, we do happen to have a professional basketball franchise in the Mile High City! For the past few years they have made regular appearances in the postseason too!
Over the course of the past season, I have been observing a troubling trend emerging on the hardwood floor. When I was growing up, players like Abdul Jabbar and Lambeer dragged each other up and down the court. They were not afraid to mix it up under the rim either! Elbows would fly, knees would be driven into thighs, and shoulders crashed against one another as these giants jockeyed for rebound position.
The referees would sit back and let them play the game. Every now and then, somebody would end up facedown on the court and a foul would be called! It was typically the result of two bodies in motion colliding against each other. The felled player would be assisted off the floor by several of his team mates. He would painfully wobble over to the free throw line, try to focus on the rim in front of him, and drop a couple of free throws.
This past season I became painfully aware of a new wrinkle in professional basketball. They simply call it the “flop.” Rather than fight it out on the court, waiting to be physically mugged before drawing a foul; players are now throwing themselves on the floor. They wait for an opposing hoopster to simply graze them in passing and they then flail themselves backwards, crashing onto the hardwood! The referee, not truly having witnessed the “contact” assumes that the player on the floor was viciously fouled!
The flop has now evolved into an art form. I am certain that stuntmen in Hollywood are tuning into NBA games in order to get tips on how to be better at their falls. Sports networks are now including nightly highlights of the best flops from around the league. Commentators will replay the same sequence over and over again to show you that no actual contact was made as one of the players flung himself into the crowd! Then they will chuckle over the fact that the referee had the audacity to blow the whistle!
Yes, I too find it entertaining to watch these Oscar hopefuls dramatize the wrongdoings of their counterparts. However, I can not help but be bothered by the intent. Back in the day, a foul was called because a player actually violated the rules. By flopping, a player is simply trying to get his opponent penalized under false pretenses. A player is supposedly hit so hard that he lies on the floor crying out for the paramedics. The foul is called and miraculously he bounds to his feet, a cheap smirk on his face, and trots to the foul line! It just cheapens the game, and to my way of thinking is one step short of cheating!
Let’s introduce an additional referee who is charged with reviewing the film every time a player hits the floor. If that player is judged to have flopped, then a technical foul should be charged against him! Get caught flopping three times in a game and you get ejected! That should bring an end to this disgraceful practice!
Think about your own life for a moment. How often do each of us over-dramatize the wrongs levied upon us? Do we throw ourselves onto the floor when somebody simply grazes us? It is very tempting to proclaim ourselves victims when we perceive we have been slighted or fouled. Too often we are looking for somebody else to blame when we come up short! We are tempted to get cheap fouls called on somebody else, just so we can better our own position.
Perhaps it is time for us to set up our own individual replay systems. We can then study the action and determine if we were truly fouled or not. In playground basketball games, players are responsible for calling fouls on themselves. From what I have observed, it works fairly well. Remember, there is no replay referee in life. Are you willing to forego the flop and call a foul on yourself when it is the right thing to do?