ESPN's Marc Stein tells us that the NBA has decided that it will start fining players for flopping next season. There are a lot of people who I know that hate, hate, hate flopping. One of them is the Plain Dealer's Branson Wright, who fancies himself a bit of a purest. We've sat next to each other for hundreds of games over the years and each time he sees one he'll let out a prolonged moan. I am not in this camp, I think it is part of the game just like other gamesmanship plays are. But the league is obviously trying to reign some things in.
In the 2006-07 season there was a play when Anderson Varejao -- king of the timed response to defensive contact, oh, OK, the flop -- hit the deck on a jump ball. And he was doing the jumping! And he got the call! I felt this was one of the greatest moments of the season, a signature move by a maestro. Branson literally got up from the table and walked away.
Actually, Andy's great play from that season was taking a charge from Rasheed Wallace in the fourth quarter of Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Sheed had just been called for a bad loose ball foul at the other end and was steaming. He pushed and shoved Varejao up the court, he must've hit him five times before he got the ball. Then setting up in the post he hit him twice more. Andy took them all. Then, at just the correct moment when Sheed was making his move, Andy went to the deck. Sheed was hit with the charge and then he freaked out, tackled LeBron and was ejected. To me, that was sheer mastery. And, as Andy's often criticized yet not incorrect agent Dan Fegan once said to me: "A charge is just as good as a block." Actually, it's better because you get the ball and a foul on the other guy.
I think the key phrase in Stein's story is fines will only come on the "most egregious type of flops." Or as some in the NBA would call them: Ginobilis. I certainly recognize that this will change the way the game is played and there's no doubt Andy is a target and will probably feel this rule at some point next season. More than likely, the league will pass out a bunch early on and announce them all with the hope that it will stem the tide, then will let it go in the late season and playoffs.
When there were first rumors of this sort of action last year I asked Andy about it. He pretty much shrugged and told me that it is easier to get a charge called in the NBA than any other league in the world because of the no-charge zone. "Easier to get charges because of the no-charge zone?" I repeated. "Yes, because if you set up outside of it and there is contact the officials have to make the call. In international games, they can let it go. The line makes them blow the whistle," Andy told me. And, you know what, he's right.
So these fines may not be great news for Andy, but I suspect it won't change the way he plays the game at all.
--One more thing more I go, people are still asking me about why I didn't address Carmelo Anthony rumors in my previous blog. I mean, I was giving you guys some credit. Why would the Nuggets trade their franchise player for any reason? I don't care what rumors have come out of New Jersey or anywhere else, this is crazy. And you sure don't trade him for expiring contracts. C'mon folks. Now, if Denver gets off to a bad start next season I could see them looking to trade Allen Iverson (heading into the last year of his deal) and maybe start a bit of a rebuilding because they have a sky-high payroll and have yet to win a playoff series with this group. But you don't trade Melo, you build around him. --Also, on the Jermaine O'Neal rumors. When Chad Ford wrote it he said he checked it out and it wasn't true. You never say never, but I don't see Danny Ferry trading Zydrunas Ilgauskas and I don't see the Pacers moving O'Neal for a guy in his 30s. How does that make sense for the Pacers. He's their franchise player, even if he's been hurt for the last couple of years.
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