SI Player Poll: Varejao, Ginobili top floppers

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Sports Illustrated’s latest anonymous poll of players is out, and the subject is the biggest floppers in the league. The top guys will not surprise you. Here’s the top 5:

  1. Anderson Varejao
  2. Manu Ginobili
  3. Luis Scola
  4. Derek Fisher
  5. Kevin Martin

Kobe Bryant, Paul Pierce, and Shane Battier all make appearances in the top 15 as well. It’s interesting that the top three players are from South America. Is it something in the water down there? Is flopping taught as a fundamental like dribbling or moving your feet on defense?

But what’s probably the most interesting thing about this list is that it could have been the same list from four years ago. The league has put in rule changes to discourage flopping, and still the same players are always on these lists of floppers. To be fair, since that rule change, there has been a dramatic decrease in flops (from my perspective, it’s kind of hard to quantify flops vs. normal reactions to fouls).  But these guys are still the main culprits. It’s part of their game, and it’s remained so. You’d think at some point the league would look to make examples out of a few to make it apparent that the game shouldn’t be played that way. But considering some of the star power on the list, maybe that’s unrealistic.

It’s also interesting that you have different kinds of floppers. Pierce and Bryant, for example, are more likely to flop on the offensive end, looking for a call off a pump-fake, while Fisher and Scola of course are more the kind to body up their man on defense, then go skidding across the floor when contact comes. Kevin Martin may be the most prolific offensive flopper on the list, even more so than Ginobili. Martin’s best offensive skill is drawing contact and accentuating it. When he pump faked a Spurs defender in the Rockets’ win over San Antonio Friday night, then flailed to the floor, I actually assumed prior to replay it was a flop. Not based off of visual evidence, but what I’ve seen of Martin before. It was actually a legit foul.

But of course, Martin still flopped to sell it.

In reality, flops are not just part of the game, but being good at it is a crucial skill. Players who try and play without it may be valiant in our eyes, but they’re less effective. Until changes are made by the NBA to try and eliminate it all together (don’t hold your breath), being on this list isn’t a bad thing.

(HT: Red’s Army)

Jeopardy uses “crying Jordan” meme for question

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You know a meme has jumped the shark when it appears on Jeopardy. (Also, the phrase “jump the shark” has jumped the shark.)

The “crying Jordan” meme reached that level this week when Alex Trebek asked a question about it.

This in no way means we should stop using the crying Jordan meme — even if it bothers MJ himself, and it does — because it’s still funny.

Charles Barkley on new schedule: “These poor babies can’t play back-to-back games”

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Training camp hasn’t even opened yet, but Charles Barkley is already in midseason “get off my lawn” form.

Barkley — the man who can’t stand jump shooting teams, or analytics, or LeBron James asking for better players, or your newfangled technology — went off on another tedious rant at an SMU event Wednesday, this time about the NBA’s decision to start the season a little earlier and have fewer back-to-backs and eliminate four-games-in-five-nights.

Ugh. Like a lot of former players — and a lot of non-athletes, for that matter — Barkley is convinced his peak as a player coincided with the greatest era of basketball ever. Things were never better than the way they did it in his day.

Which means facts — like pointing to the studies that show players both are less likely to be injured and play better and more efficiently when rested — don’t matter. Barkley did it, so players now should have to do it. Who cares if all these packed in games can shorten their careers?

Then again, maybe a few days off would have helped Barkley in the second half of his career.

B.J. Armstrong, former Jordan-era Bull turned agent, told me last year that if teams and players knew in his day what they know now about rest and injury, you would have seen stars like MJ rest. Over time we learn more information, and the smart people and organizations adjust.

Barkley will make far more headlines over the course of the season, he gets paid to be brash, say whatever pops into head, and be generally draw attention to himself. It makes him entertaining, and that’s what Inside the NBA is about. But I will defer to Steve Kerr’s comments from last playoffs on all these old “get off my lawn” players.

“The game gets worse as time goes on. Players are less talented than they used to be. The guys in the 50s would’ve destroyed everybody. It’s weird how human evolution goes in reverse in sports. Players get weaker, smaller, less skilled. I don’t know. I can’t explain it.”

For a couple grand, Warriors fans can have Larry O’Brien Trophy visit their suite

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There’s so much money floating around the Bay Area right now thanks to another tech boom, this price almost seems low.

If you have a suite for the Golden State Warriors home games this season — and those are pretty much sold out, the Warriors draw big from the Silicon Valley crowd — you can have the NBA championship Larry O’Brien Trophy visit your suite. All for just a couple grand. From Gilbert Lee, via ESPN’s Darren Rovell.

The best part is it includes champagne… do you get to spray each other with it as you hold up the trophy? Now that would be perfect (goggles included, of course).

Have an issue with this? Why? To the victor goes the spoils. The Warriors may be able to sell this package for years.

Sixers new “Spirit of 76” court is fire

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First, the Sixers nailed the Nike “statement” jersey.

Now, they have announced a new “Spirit of 76” promotion, with seven tribute nights this season honoring the history of the franchise and of the Philadelphia area (and there is plenty of history to honor).

The best part — the “Spirit of 76” court with the bell logo.

Here is the promo vid

I just hope the Sixers team can live up to all the hype.