Editorial: Putting their bodies on the line

The art of the flop has taken the NBA by storm over the past few seasons, led by reigning MVP LeBron James

Miami Heat forward LeBron James is lightly bumped by Indiana Pacers forward David West during the NBA playoffs last season, so James and West both do the natural thing anyone in their right mind would do — wave their hands, spin around and fall to the floor in sheer agony and pain.

THE KING  — LeBron James has learned to exaggerate slight contact. Photo credit: Keith Allison

THE KING — LeBron James has learned to exaggerate slight contact. Photo credit: Keith Allison

Rather than this play being appreciated for the great skill both displayed as they fell to the floor, many have deemed this play a “flop” or even “Lebroning” by both players.
What most fans do not realize about this play is that James does not even know how to flop.

“I don’t need to flop,” James said to the Associated Press. “I play an aggressive game, but I don’t flop. I’ve never been one of those guys. I don’t need to flop. I don’t even know how to do it. So it doesn’t mean much to me.”

Many misinterpreted what James said when he said this. But what is there not to understand? Clearly James is a talented basketball player, as well as an actor, not a “flopper” as some analysts have called him.

In fact, many Hollywood actors would not even attempt the stunts that James tries during games. Rather, they have stunt doubles who take the risk of pretending to fall or be punched in the face. So, for those who criticize James for flopping, shame on you for not applauding the risk he takes while acting.

Those risks were evident when guard Manu Ginobili of the San Antonio Spurs was injured during a flop against the Boston Celtics last season.

So when those athletes such as James or Ginobili make the gutsy decision to fall helplessly toward the ground and flail their arms in distress after minimal or even no contact, they put their careers at risk.

These star athletes who have been taking courageous dives for the betterment of their team have been severely punished by the league for their flops.

Last season the NBA and Commissioner David Stern implemented a new rule that if a play is determined to be a flop, they could fine the player a whopping $5,000.

Shame on you, David Stern. This is yet again another power grab by the league and also a harsh scare tactic. Does Stern realize that these players are expected to make a living and provide for their families so that food can be put on the table?

With the outrageous fines, Stern has forced players such as James to decide between his team and family. Do you take a dive in a game to help your team, but risk that $5,000 that could be used for your child’s education? Questions like these are surely running through the minds of every NBA player.

While the flop may be something new to American fans of the NBA and even the NFL, its roots can be traced back to Europe and South America in the sport of soccer.

According to the Britannica encyclopedia, soccer is the most popular sport in the word. But it has not been accepted here in America because Americans fans are ignorant of the flop, as seen by the fine system implemented in the NBA.

Fans across the world have accepted the beauty, technique and passion behind each and every flop their star player takes for his or her team to draw a penalty.

Is it a coincidence that soccer is called the beautiful game and exhibits more flopping than any other sport? I would argue that it is not.

Instead of criticizing players such as James, we should be praising him for attempting to break a barrier, which has set back sport in America for decades. In order for sports such as basketball to catch up to soccer, the flop must be embraced not only by the players, but also by the league and the American fans.

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