Jim McIlvaine , SportsBlog.com Presents: Legends Corner- Featuring continuous and compelling blogs written by NBA veterans, Legends Corner is the content hub for some of basketball's most legendary players. on
I'll be honest about my NBA viewing habits- I don't watch much at all. I'd like to say it's because it lends more credibility to my streak of accurately predicting the outcome of the NBA playoffs in 22 of the last 24 seasons, but it really comes down to me not being a very good spectator. I spent my whole life being a part of the action or at least being available to be a part of the action, so I find it difficult to simply sit and watch. Plus, my wife wanted to watch the Miss USA pageant (if you want to be entertained, watch those ladies try to string two coherent sentences together with a microphone in their face).
I did flip back and forth during commercials and linger a bit on Game 2 of the NBA finals, so I did catch some key moments. I watched the Spurs come out of the gate strong and I watched the Heat make a solid run at the end of the first half. However, it was a single play in the third quarter that signaled the end of my viewing for the evening. Dwyane Wade was on the perimeter, 45 feet from the basket, when Manu Ginobili took a swipe at the ball and missed. Wade recoiled at the exact moment that an official ran behind him with his head turned the wrong direction. Wade's performance was on par with anything garnering Tony Awards over on CBS that evening.
The official had to make an immediate judgement call, based on what he saw out of the corner of his eye and he deemed it a foul on Ginobili, which was his third. The immediate replay had shown it to be a flop and even though I hadn't watched the entire game, just seeing the play unfold, the reaction of the Spurs and hearing the tone of the commentators, it seemed everyone felt the game's momentum had shifted and the game was all but over at that point.
After further review, Wade's play was deemed a flop and he was fined $5,000 for it. People can criticize Wade all they want for flopping (and Spurs fans undoubtedly will) or his teammate for the LeBroning craze that is sweeping the nation, but that is how the NBA wants the game to be played. If they didn't want the game played that way, the penalty for flopping would be far greater than $5,000. Could the players adjust? Look how well they've embraced flopping as a strategy.
The athletes who play in the NBA are some of the most competitive people in the world, and they are willing to do whatever it takes to win games and championships. The stakes are never higher than the NBA Finals. Ask any NBA player on any NBA roster if he'd be willing to fork over $5,000 to get a key opposing player in foul trouble and their response would be, "check or cash?" Several of those guys may exchange double or triple that amountwith each other on the plane ride home anyway and the value of winning an NBA Championship for an NBA player would far exceed $50,000 worth of flopping fines. NBA playoff shares are worth way more than $5,000. Why wouldn't a guy flop, if it could help his team get to the next round or win a title?
So everyone likes to point out the issues in sports without presenting viable alternatives. I try not to be that guy. I realize it may be a challenge to come up with a viable solution for every regular-season NBA game, but with the stakes being higher in the playoffs, changes could be made that could have an immediate impact on the game. Instead of fining a player $5,000, how about issuing him a foul and taking one away from the innocent player? The technology and resources exist to do this during a playoff game, although it may be a challenge to police this during all 82 regular-season games. Make flopping a technical foul and make it count as a personal foul and team foul.
Imagine what would've happened in Game 2, if after the next time out, it was announced that Wade flopped and was assessed a foul for it and Ginobili's previous foul was rescinded? That arena would've gone bonkers and it would've hurt the Heat far more than a measly $5,000 fine, possibly costing them the game, instead of the other way around. Do you think players would get the message and stop flopping...at least in the playoffs? Instantly.
The bottom line is that NBA players want their legacy and the memory fans have of them to be that of stellar displays of athleticism, not acting. The NBA is forcing players to flop by not making the penalty for it harsh enough and I'm embarrassed for them. They deserve better than that, the fans deserve better and the game deserves better. I hope the NBA realizes this soon and adjusts accordingly. I know the players will.