Stop the Flop sign now

Dear Mr. Stern,

I am writing to you today on behalf on NBA fans worldwide. We realize the game has grown in the past few decades and we greatly appreciate the influence and worldwide attention that you have brought to this great sport that we all love and cherish. Since you took over as commissioner in 1984 the league has seen a period of growth that is unprecedented in any major sport. In spite of some minor speed bumps along the way you have transformed the league from a secondary citizen to a top dog. Despite the best efforts of the NFL and the MLB, the NBA has experienced unmatched growth during your time as commissioner. Some of this is undoubtedly due to the influence of players such as Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Michael Jordan and the rest of the charismatic crew that populated the league in the late 80s and early 90s, but a lot of the popularity of the league can be directly attributed to the innovations which have come in to the league in the past 20+ years.



This is not to say that during your tenure as commish of the NBA everything has always been fine and dandy. Youve had to deal with many problems that could have (and have) hurt the league and youve dealt with these problems very appropriately in every case. Whether it be the hand-checking that threatened to slow the best of the best that the league had to offer, the ongoing insanity that is Mark Cuban, the Tim Donaghy fiasco, or even the reputation that the league was developing as a league of thugs (whether this reputation was deserved or not, it was hurting the fan base, thus the league revenue, and thus the league itself). In every case you have pro-actively searched out the problem and with the help of your advisors and confidants come up with a solution that has not only diminished the problem but in the process enhanced the image of the league.



That said Mr. Stern, I am writing today in the hopes that you will continue these ways and that you are smart enough (and not yet too conceited by your years as the best commissioner in pro sports) to realize that the league that you have nurtured from a 3rd wheel step-child into the money maker of the family is in dire need of help. Im sure youve heard the line Im about to give you from many sources over the past few years but that only serves to solidify my position that this is a belief that all fans of the NBA have in common (even the Spurs fans who benefit from it most (sorry, couldnt help myself for taking a shot there)). The flopping in the NBA has reached epidemic proportions and if you as the commissioner dont find it in yourself to do something about it then Im not sure if the league can survive in its place as the most expanding and growing sport worldwide. Im sure it will continue to be popular but I can also guarantee that the growth of the sport will slow considerably. Theres nothing that turns a casual fan off the game quicker (and trust me, as a fan in Canada who watches games with many hardcore hockey yet casual basketball fans I know this for a fact) than seeing a 66, 245 pound man drop like hes been tasered at the mere touch of an offensive players forearm. Are we truly expected to believe that a man of Manu Ginoblis stature, who can drive the lane 30 times a game and absorb countless hits, hacks and bumps, is going to be knocked down and writhe in pain every time the 195 pound Steve Nash takes the ball at him and makes the slightest contact with his chest? Good defense is one thing but Vlade Divac defense is an entirely different story all together. If you dont believe me that its a problem (and has been for a while) just take a look at the following quotes



Were all out there flopping. Some of us are better actors than others. - P.J. Brown

Flopping is an art. You have to go home and practice it in a mirror. I dont fault guys for it. - Dominque Wilkins

"Most of the time, I flopped because I wasn't strong enough to stand up against everybody who was so physical. - Vlade Divac

On Manu [His] hair goes all wild, and it looks like someone just murdered him. Those fouls arent that hard. - Ray Allen

Maybe sometimes I exaggerate the charge. - Anderson Varejao.



And of course the #1 NBA fan in the U.S.A. (Mr. Bill Simmons) has had more than his say on the matter. Here, in my opinion, is his bottom line on the matter (taken from an article written last year).



The single most disgusting NBA development of the past few years? The flopping. Slowly, regretfully, inexplicably, the sport is morphing into soccer -- as exemplified by Kirilenko's swan dive near the end of Tuesday's Jazz-Warriors game that fouled out Matt Barnes, or Kirk Hinrich's perfectly designed flopparoo to draw Chauncey Billups' fourth foul in Detroit Tuesday. I blame the influx of European players for this trend because flopping has always been an acceptable part of soccer; they grew up watching that crap and understood that it could work in basketball as well, especially if you have a group of largely incompetent referees calling the action. So it started a few years ago, it's gotten worse and worse, and now, it's affecting the overall competitiveness of these games.



Here's the problem: Because we don't have any anti-flopping rules, it behooves defenders to fall backward every time a low-post player lowers his shoulder, and it behooves them to slide under airborne players and plant their feet for a charge (even if they might end up breaking the guy's neck in the process). Not to keep bringing up the pickup basketball analogy, but geez ... can you imagine if somebody pulled this crap during a game among friends? The prevailing reactions would be, "What the hell are you doing?" and "If you do that again, I'm gonna sock you." But because the NBA refuses to do anything about the flopping, it's evolved into a savvy defensive maneuver. For instance, if you're Barnes and you're giving up 50 pounds to Boozer on the low post, there's only two ways you're stopping him: Go for a strip if he puts the ball on the ground, or jump backward if he's dumb enough to lower his shoulder as he's turning around. Those are your two options.



Is that basketball? Hell, no! In fact, when I was a little kid -- and I swear to God, this happened -- a guard named Mike Newlin flopped to draw a charge from the great Dave Cowens, a fiery Hall of Famer who played with a remarkable level of passion and fury, to the degree that he burned himself out after 7-8 years. Completely and utterly outraged that Newlin committed such a phony act of sportsmanship, Cowens berated the ref who made the call, yelled at him some more, then started running back on defense when he noticed Newlin dribbling up the court. Now, our seats were at midcourt, so this happened right in front of us and nearly caused me to pee my pants -- as Cowens was running, he snapped and suddenly charged Newlin like a free safety, bodychecked him at full speed (much, MUCH harder than Horry's foul on Nash) and sent poor Newlin careening into the press table at about 35 mph. Then he turned to the same ref and screamed ...

"NOW THAT'S A F------- FOUL!"

Did Cowens get kicked out of the game? Of course. But there's a moral to the story. Once upon a time, these guys had a code of honor. They played hard, respected the game, defended their teammates, and if anyone stepped out of line, there was always someone that would take care of them -- whether it was another player, a referee, a coach or whatever. When fights or altercations happened, they were considered natural side effects of a physical sport. When two players talked smack, it was considered a good thing, a sign that the game was heating up, that we were potentially headed for a more competitive place.



Mr. Stern, this letter is directed in large part to you. But because Im just a mere fan with no say what-so-ever in the grand scheme of things Im sending it out to all of my NBA fan friends in hopes that they will forward it on to their basketball watching friends and, thanks to this wonderful invention that is the internet, in the process we can get a petition going for you to do something about the flopping in the NBA today (and hopefully someone along the way has some contacts with the NBA and can forward it on to you).

If NHL can create a rule overnight because of one idiots antics (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j1GW7hcpnoE), then you can surely take an off-season and address a problem that is threatening to destroy the new era of the NBA.



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a2FG1WAry08

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fEef1T_lqwA

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xNN9ZiH38fs&NR=1

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MTdERYOtqsg

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3hSaX7zNCMY

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mWMFETorB-g

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6I14EJPCaEk

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ukde193ivM&NR=1

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DgPHIT61FfU





On behalf on NBA fans worldwide, I thank you in advance.

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