I’ve come a long way on flopping. The natural human instinct towards flopping is to treat it with bile-ridden disgust, turning to effusive outrage in egregious cases. Fans complicate this. Your guy flops and it’s a “savvy, veteran move.” The other guy does it and he’s a “stinking cheater who flops like a (European).” In reality, flopping plays a very integral part of the NBA. Contact is so common and so fast in the NBA that players need to exaggerate it in order to ensure that they get the call they deserve. No one does this better than the San Antonio Spurs. The Spurs aren’t inventing contact on offense, they’re just making it extremely hard on the official to not call the foul. Defensively is another issue, that’s trying to manipulate the system to change the rules of the game. And whether you like it or not, that’s effective.
The more you watch the league the more okay you become with it. If you really start to notice how much contact NBA players, especially the good ones, absorb, you start to sympathize with the idea that you have to do something to get the officials to make the call you need them to make. After all, we always talk about the respect we have for players who will do anything to win. Egregious flopping is just the pride-surrendering extension of that ideal.
But there’s got to be a line, right? There has to be a point where a player is just acting to try and influence the game. Especially if it’s drawing technical fouls after a play. A prime example of that is the sad and pathetic display James Harden put on in Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals as his Thunder were getting blown out of the water.
Van Gundy’s got a point. There has to be a point where the league reviews these plays and some level of adequate punishment is assessed. Flopping may be a necessary evil in today’s NBA. But influencing the outcome of games by fabricating contact does a disservice to every player who’s made a tough and-one while getting hammered.
And Harden? To channel possible future Warriors coach Mark Jackson? “You’re better than that.”
Harden had seven points on 2-9 shooting Saturday night with one assist and two turnovers in a six point loss to the Mavericks in a game where Oklahoma City held a 36-18 free throw advantage.