Thursday, January 25, 2007

The Crumbling Legacy of Vlade Divac?

Urban Vlade Divac 1.The most profilic flopper in the history of all sports. His ability to flop is only surpassed by his inability to jump. He also has the sweatiest and hairiest armpits known to man. Shaquille Oneal's arch nemesis. To pull a "Vlade" means to intentionally fall down after even the lightest of contact. A.K.A. The King of Flop, Floppy Divac, Sir Flops Alot, The Serbian Flop Monster

ex. 'The crowd erupts after Vlade Divac drew the charge once again after being touched by Shaq's shoelace.'

Today's Bloomberg News: "National Basketball Association players who fake fouls might soon be penalized themselves, a league official said.

The NBA is studying how often feigned fouls, known as "flops," occur and whether officials can consistently tell the difference between actual fouls and embellishments, said Stu Jackson, the executive vice president for basketball operations.

"They're really difficult to determine in real time. They're meant to fool an official," Jackson told reporters today. "Are we going to be wrong more times than not? It's tough, but we're looking at it.

FIBA, the governing body for international basketball, allows referees to impose a technical foul for flopping, a penalty that Jackson said the NBA is considering. Other sports, including soccer and hockey, also allow officials to penalize players who embellish fouls.

"We have so many more plays than you do in a football or soccer game and in a more intimate environment," said Jackson, who didn't offer a timetable for a decision.

Jackson met with reporters in New York to discuss the league's officiating program."

Many, if not all of the recent NBA rule changes have been met with a deserved skepticism. The dress code, and the 'no whining rule' both appeared to have, um, 'aesthetic purposes', but this seems to be a revision in the best interest of the game. The flop has to be my biggest pet peeve in the NBA. I can look past the carrying and traveling because they aren't tallied. Players can't 'travel out' of a game.

Like most folks, my first vivid memories of the flop center around an aging Vlade Divac-who was never the spryest of cats to begin with-tumbling to the floor after contact with a quicker & stronger opponent. It was certainly an understandable tactic, Vlade was not athletic enough to deter an elite post player (i.e. Shaq.), so he realized that the most effective way to slow them down was through the refs. If the whistle blew in his favor even a couple of times per game, it enabled him to weaken opponents through doubt. Any degree of hesitancy from the opposition helps balance the scales and can even alter their game plan if enough offensive fouls are called.

( Vlade himself admits to the flopping: "I probably do it once every six games. It's just timing, like any other move you have to work on. A lot of times it comes when the official has been missing calls, and you know that they know they're wrong [and they owe you one].")

What Vlade may not have realized was that he had propped open the door for a faithful legion of floppers to masquerade as good defenders. I respect the awareness and determination needed to continually sacrifice yourself. Charges aren't for pussies. But in essence, it's still a crutch. It is almost unilaterally used by the disadvantaged player, the smaller, the slower, the weaker, the player who is getting beaten to the basket. Who leads the league in charges taken? Steve Nash. Whoever your favorite player is, he has probably benefitted from-and also been fucked by, the charge call. There was a period in my lifetime in which this call went largely ignored and bodies were strewn about the paint as play continued, but now it's as common as, well, traveling. For this I cannot hate the player, but the game. Why such a commonly subjective rule was allowed to be exploited for this long is beyond my understanding, especially since it blew up during a period where rule changes were made to increase scoring. But I'm not worried, Stu Jackson is on the case and Lord knows he can't screw this up. Right? Farewell Vlade Divac, unwitting pioneer. I bedgrudingly salute you...

P.S. Just a thought, are the "Stop Bitchin'" & "Stop Floppin'" campaigns the NBA's way of acknowledging that last year Finals were fucked?