This has been going on for years: a star player charges headlong toward the basket and then either flails his arms or drops to the floor like a lead brick. Tweet! Foul. The San Antonio Spurs -- specifically Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and especially Manu Ginobili -- have become the undisputed ninja masters of this tactic, and they used it last night to con the referees into an endless litany of freethrows en route to a 41-20 advantage from the line and a 91-79 victory.
By games end, the Spurs had more freethrows (30) than field goals (28), which was a staple of basketball in the 1940s but is generally looked down upon these days. Jerry Sloan and Derek Fisher became so riled up after a late-game Ginobili flop that they got themselves ejected, which led to even more Spurs freethrows and effectively ended the game. The Energy Solutions Arena crowd, which usually doesn't do anything more controversial than boo really loudly, threw lip balm at the retreating Spurs after the game.
It's just another example of lousy NBA officiating. I have two requests for David Stern:
1. Please, for the sake of all that's holy, do something about flopping. It's a throbbing hemorrhoid on the tender butt cheeks of professional basketball. Every player hates flopping, yet every player does it...even Shaq, the loudest anti-flop complainer of them all. And the fans hate it too. It's not fun to watch. There isn't a single redeeming quality to the flop. It's a cheap and cowardly play. The players obviously aren't going to police themselves on this, because it provides an obvious competitive advantage. The league has to step in because it's getting worse by the year.
2. Adopt a "challenge" policy similar to the NFL. Allow NBA coaches to challege two (or more?) calls a game. Make the referees review some of their crummy decisions on the spot. If it is indeed a bad call, it should be overturned; maybe that would embarrass the officials into making the right call next time. If it was the right call, then the challenging team should lose a timeout, or maybe the opposing team should be awarded a technical freethrow. Whatever. But at least it would provide some measure of justice and relief against the obvious and egregious bad officiating.
Is this post a bunch of sour grapes? Maybe. But that doesn't mean that flopping and flailing isn't ridiculous. Imagine if guys started flopping in your pickup league. How well do you suppose that would go over? Take a look at this hilarious YouTube clip and then you be the judge: