It’s not like flopping is a cultural phenomenon solely owned by the NBA. It’s a disease that’s infiltrating every corner of professional sports. Take last weekend for example. Jerome Simpson, a 25-year-old wide receiver for Cincinnati, drew a 15-yard penalty against the Browns last Sunday by flopping harder than Rollerball. One little shove and boom, he was up, up and away, launching himself five feet off the ground, the largest jack rabbit anyone had ever seen. What made it even worse was the ref didn’t see it and yet still drew the flag.
It drew blog posts, conversations on ESPN shows, laughs and hate, and while it was one of the most heinous crimes of flopping we’ve ever seen, us basketball fans know how it is to deal with people like Simpson every day. Like nudity on television or swearing in music, we’re immune to it.
On an NFL field, a flop like that sticks out as much as rotten milk. In the NBA, we see so many of them it’s become routine. You’re considered a great player now if you can “draw the contact” or “force the official to make the call.” Yes, there is a certain aspect of talent to this: Great players have always found ways to get to the line. But inevitably, people start flopping to draw fouls, and it’s gotten so out of control that refusing to flop puts you at a disadvantage.
I’ve made up my mind. At some point early this season, I’m going to watch an entire game and see if I can track how many flops occur, how many draw fouls and how many go unseen. If only we still had Rasheed Wallace around to set us straight as he did two years ago when talking about Hedo Turkoglu: “They’ve got to know that he’s a [darn] flopper. That’s all Turkododo do. Flopping shouldn’t get you nowhere. He acts like I shot him.
“That’s not basketball, man. That’s not defense. That’s garbage, what it is. I’m glad I don’t have too much of it left.”
Last season, SI.com polled a number of NBA players in an effort to discover the league’s greatest flopper. While their list was based off of personal experience and subject to favoritism, I’ll try to do what I can to create the definitive list of NBA floppers. With that, check out my list on the next page of the 10 best/worst/most often prone to flop players in the game today.
10. Nick Collison
I’m sorry but anyone who makes much of their claim off of taking charges deserves to be on this list. I’ve ranted about this before, but the charge call is the worst rule in all of basketball. It simply has no positive effects on the game at all, and in a league with dozens of players owning 40-inch verticals, a defender attempting to undercut or get in the way as a player jumps can only cause problems.
If you’re a Thunder fan, you love the way Collison takes charges. It’s a skill. He’s very good at it. He might be the best defensive big man off the bench in the whole NBA. But I just can’t get over the charge thing. It’s not as blatant as what some other floppers do, flopping around all over the place night after night. But Collison uses the whole “Get in someone’s way and fall back” routine as one of his main weapons. Trying to take a charge is a part of the game, but it’s a completely unnecessary and stupid rule. Because of it, we have people like Collison falling backwards all the time instead of playing straight-up defense. He’s great on that end of the court, but you won’t find me defending that style.
9. Chris Bosh
Bosh happens to make this list because of one play only. It’s so egregious, there’s a chance it could challenge even Simpson’s epic fall from last Sunday in the pantheon of flopping masterpieces.
8. Kevin Martin
If we were dividing up flopping into sub-categories, Martin would be near the top in offensive flopping. Despite being one of the league’s best unknown players â€“ how many legit Kevin Martin fans do you know? â€“ the Rockets’ leading scorer is always near the top of the league in free throws attempt. Why? With his skinny body, Martin knows every angle to draw a foul. If you let him get in the lane, just book the call. It’s automatic. Other NBA players ranked him No. 5 in the NBA as a flopper. I’ll give him a little more credit considering a lot of the calls come from the diverse, unique game he owns. Officials just don’t know what to do with it.
7. Kobe Bryant
Can one of the 10 greatest players ever also be perhaps one of it’s greatest floppers as well? Bryant is staring that iconic distinction in the face. Kobe is not only a dangerous flopper (ask Marko Jaric), he’s also perhaps the only man alive to get suspended for flopping and the owner of the preeminent flopping phrase: “HEY!” Bryant’s numerous flops get lost throughout the game because the vast majority of them are on offense, where we’ve come to consider an offensive flop a smart play. That doesn’t change what it is.
6. Paul Pierce
Do I really need to get into this? We know Pierce’s most famous flopping moment: Game 1 of the 2008 NBA Finals. Third quarter. Pierce goes down in a heap, gets carried off the court and all of Celtic Nation gets greener than usual. But suddenly, a resurrection occurs. Pierce comes flying back into the game, makes two game-changing threes and we never hear about his knee again. As Chuck says: “That’s a Golden Globe if I’ve ever seen one.” But that wasn’t Pierce’s only shining moment. As flopping facial expressions go, Pierce is probably No. 1.
5. Chris Paul
He could be the the league’s best flopping big-name player. Paul isn’t sneaky with it. He’s flat-out annoying. I dare hardcore New Orleans fans to watch a quarter of basketball and not catch Paul whipping his head back at some point. Some guys get their whole body into it, but Paul, all he has to do is whip his head around and he can draw fouls. A defender could hit him in the leg, and somehow, someway, Paul’s head would snap back like he just drove into a tree. Check out this game against the Spurs. This is the first time I’ve ever seen a player properly execute two 360 flops in one game. Impressive stuff.
4. Raja Bell
Bell isn’t so relevant anymore in NBA circles as he’s aged. But during the Suns’ run with Steve Nash, STAT, the Matrix and all the rest, Bell could’ve been one of the league leaders in flops. In his numerous battles with San Antonio in the playoffs, Bell very nearly out-flopped Manu. When he first came on the scene with Philadelphia, Bell was a gritty and unbelievably tough kid, unafraid to back down in the playoffs against some of the world’s best players. Even the strongest of us can sometimes lose our ways, and eventually Bell was competing in “Can you top this?” fall down competitions with Manu in the playoffs.
3. Manu Ginobili
Ginobili is a special flopper. He’s a clutch flopper, and there aren’t too many of those. Most of the players on this list can get away with a fling at the 5:54 point in the second quarter. But doing it in the biggest possession of a playoff game? That takes either years of practice, or just a natural gift. God awarded Manu the most balanced unorthodox game perhaps of all time, and he’s probably going to ride it all the way to Springfield. He’s long been one of the best players in this game. But that’s not the only gift he has. As a clutch flopper, he is right at the top.
2. Anderson Varejao
When SI.com ran a poll late last season asking NBA players who they thought were the worst floppers in the league, guess who earned the No. 1 spot? Varejao’s flops earn an extra sense of authenticity because when he flops, his hair goes nuts, drawing the extra attention necessary to incite even the calmest fan.
Varejao earned his repuation in the league because of an unwavering tenacity, the way he goes 100 miles an hour for 48 minutes, every game, every night. But when we sit back 15 years from now and think of the Brazilian Wild Man, we’ll see visions of that hair whipping around as he draws another ridiculous offensive foul.
1. Derek Fisher
The President of the Floppers Association is Fisher’s dual job when he’s at his place of work. My personal favorites are his drives to the rim: He swings his arms wildly, whips his head back and forth and then goes crashing to the floor. The Willow Smith of the hardwood. Just within the past few years, as he’s gotten older and closer to retirement, Fisher has done the smart thing. He’s worked on his flopping, perfected the craft and now you can almost guarantee the Lakers point guard will catch a ref slipping at least three times a night. Jeff Van Gundy calls him the “renowned flopper.” Between this guy and Bryant, the Lakers have a flop-athon nearly every game.
Who do you think is the worst/best flopper in the league?
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