The internet went crazy a few nights ago when Lebron James flopped to draw a loose ball foul against the Grizzlies.
As an aside, the great irony of that, of course, is the guy who got called for the foul was Dillon Brooks, architect of perhaps the greatest flop in the history of basketball.
And no one loves to pin a flop on anyone as much as Lebron loves to pin one on Dillon Brooks.
Lebron HAS to be trolling Brooks right? There is no way this is a coincidence. I think he watched a lot of Pac12 hoops and was like, I am going to repay the favor every time he guards me.
In the same game, Koooozz decided to do his best Lebron imitation (which to be certain, like all things he tries to copy from Lebron, is not very good):
This both happened in ONE GAME (both of them got warned by the league by the way).
All of this illustrates a disturbing trend. This year, flopping is at an all-time high on both sides of the ball.
Everyone flops, and it sucks. I fucking hate it. And so does everyone else.
The first instance this year that gained national attention was when the Hawks played the Nets early in the season- Trae Young went around a screen, stopped short and drew a foul, causing Steve Nash to look at the ref and say “that’s not basketball”.
Later in the year, and actually all throughout his career, Luka has constantly been throwing, no, launching his body against his defender, or jumping three feet forward to increase his “landing space” to draw fouls. And he complains all the time when he doesn’t get the call, something even he acknowledged.
It recently happened against the Warriors when Andrew Wiggins picked up a foul late in the game and Steve Kerr went off on why the outrageous amounts of flops aren’t the refs or the players fault:
“I don’t fault the officials. I fault the league for basically gifting those calls to all of our players. Our guys get them, too. To me, it’s not a basketball play. If you jump three feet forward, I don’t think you deserve a foul when all you’re doing is looking for a foul. … We’ve gotten out of control gifting offensive players the ability to deceive the refs … We have to give the defensive player some benefit of a doubt. But the officials have to call it because that’s the way the league dictates they call it “
Of course, old school hard rock, and current Knicks head coach, Tom Thibodeau, agreed that this flopping is egregious. He also Perry Mason’d his way into identifying who is to blame for this trash level of acting on a night to night basis.
“It started with (James) Harden where the league is protecting the shooters, and it’s interesting having coached internationally in FIBA. They don’t give players those calls.”
Why James Harden is maybe the most important player of his generation is a blog for another day, but in this case, we’ll call this epidemic of flopping the Harden Effect.
Like his 5 step non-travel drive or his step back three, Harden perfected the art of the soft contact foul. It’s the “I am thrusting myself into a defender with little to no intent on making a shot, but to get to the free throw line.” I mean, half the time, he’s faking the act of shooting! With Harden getting to the line 13 times a game, it’s no wonder that everyone else followed suit. It’s a massive competitive advantage for players who regularly make 85% of their free throws. Free money.
And it’s changed the game in huge ways that is sometimes hard to identify. Nobody can properly defend anymore, especially from deep, because they don’t want to give a lean-in shooter three foul shots. They have to stay far enough back to give the shooter space to land, and sometimes that’s a couple feet from where they start their shooting motion.
And in a league where guys like Steph can make 105 consecutive threes in practice? That extra space is lethal.
The trickle down effect of that? Defensive players like Marcus Smart flop on the defensive end more than ever to try and balance the scales. Marcus even admitted that he feels it’s the only move left with how the league is protecting their stars.
“I flop on defense, BUT your favorite player flops on offense. That’s the only difference. Especially in a game where the offense has nothing but the advantage, the defense has to do something to get the advantage back.”
We get into what the NBA can do to solve this flopping epidemic on today’s episode of THIS LEAGUE along with discussing why Marcus Smart and Ben Simmons aren’t helping their respective teams in their title aspirations.
For the rest of the conversation, check out the entire THIS LEAGUE podcast episode below and please subscribe, rate and review: