Tuesday, April 22, 2008

NBA Playoffs: Part Three (Kirilenko's Flop)

Andrei Kirilenko did it again. He flopped at a key moment and the refs bought it.

Scene set: Utah 85, Houston 82. Less than a minute remaining, Houston with possession. Shane Battier hauls in an offensive rebound, and with Jazz defenders scrambling, finds a relatively open Tracy McGrady in the corner for a potential game-tying three. Kirilenko comes flying at McGrady, and on his way, is shielded by Luis Scola (hand on the chest--minimal contact). In the least surprising news of the day, Kirilenko went flying into the stands as if he were thrown off the top ropes by Ax or Smash. (Remember, this all happens in the blink of an eye.) Instead of shooting, McGrady skips a pass to a wide open Bobby Jackson, who (of course) buries the three. BUT...as the ball traveled across court, a whistle blew: Kirilenko successfully duped the men in stripes. Utah now leads the series 2-0, and the next two games are played in Salt Lake City. Game-set-match, Utah.

Flopping needs to stop. It's been a problem for well over a decade and it gets worse every year.

For more thoughts on flopping, take a look at what I had to say about it last March (while writing on my MySpace blog):

"One final thought about basketball, college hoops especially: Taking charges should no longer be allowed. I'm completely serious. Here me out...

Not unlike sticking your arm in a tank full of piranha, charging is dangerous. (Note: I've seen my friend Colly stick his arm in a tank of piranha multiple times). It's far too easy for a little guy to slide underneath a high-flying wing (think North Carolina's Brandan Wright) while he's in the air, attacking the rim. It's only a matter of time before someone gets upended and breaks their neck (or sprains a wrist) because some weasel was trying to take a charge. The NBA has a semi-circle that prevents defensive players from taking charges under the basket. There has been talk of the college game adopting something similar. But that would only slightly improve the problem, and it wouldn't address the flopping epidemic, which I'll touch on in a minute. The problem with the semi-circle is that it doesn't protect guys like Wright. Trust me, I watch a ton of NBA games on NBA League Pass and the semi-circle doesn't always protect guys like Wade, LeBron, Kobe, etc. when they attack the rim. It's not as if these superior athletes only take off a few feet from the basket. The game has evolved, dammit, and the rules need to catch up.

Not unlike Elton John, flopping is...um...well...un-American. Anyway, flopping has become a smart way to play defense, and that might be basketball's biggest problem. I don't blame the players or coaches, either--they're playing by the rules. Forget about assessing blame, though...this has to stop. NOW. Not only does it discourage driving and disrupt the flow of the game, it makes no sense whatsoever. It's not just flopping; the same can be said about legitimate charges. How does it make sense to stand there and wait to get knocked over by the guy dribbling the ball? Is that really defense? Is that how we want the youngn's to learn how to play defense? To me, it's just as bad as teaching the kiddies how to play by showing them ESPN's Streetball.

Supposedly, the NBA's rules committee will discuss--among other things this offseason--penalizing anybody that flops. Again, like the semi-circle, it will only slightly improve the problem. What would be the problem with eliminating charging altogether? How would that negatively affect the game? I don't believe there's an answer to that question. As for positive affects, scoring would almost certainly increase. Who'd be against that? Well, other than Bruce Bowen, Ben Wallace and the next fifty Southern Illinois teams?

Let's get rid of charging. Let's make Vlade Divac and Steve Wojciechowski actually stay on their feet for longer than three possessions. Agreed?"

I care about few things more than basketball.

More Kirilenko flopping: While unsuccessfully searching for the video of Kirilenko's latest doozy I found a gem from last year's playoffs. This time against Golden State in the conference semifinals...

-Brad Spieser (Brad@TwinKilling.com)