Thursday, March 08, 2012

Yes, Flopping In Basketball is Soccer's Fault. Sure

I was listening to Tom Pellisaro on 1500 ESPN in the Twin Cities Wednesday evening, and he was talking with Star Tribune malcontent Jim Souhan. They were discussing the Timberwolves complaints about the rough treatment Ricky Rubio has gotten of late. (A legit beef, I think, having watched about as much Timberwolves basketball as one can). Rubio has been getting hammered by moving screens.

And if you can count on one thing the local sports guys in the Twin Cities have in common (aside from girth), it is a given that with even the smallest window to bag on soccer, they will (Star Tribune Twins beat writer LaVelle Neal excepted).

Sure enough, Jim Souhan suggested that guards of the Wolves might be flopping a bit--Rubio is occasionally (not often) guilty of that charge, while JJ Barea is guilty of it about five times a game. But then Souhan said what I knew he was going to say, even as I was hoping against hope he wouldn't. He said, and I paraphrase*, "Well, of course they do--it's the influence of soccer. They come from soccer-influenced countries and they learn the flop there, and now they bring it to the NBA."

Which is a nice and tidy story, but also total bullshit. The flop and assorted other foul-drawing techniques were alive and kicking out their legs well before the wave of South American and European soccer-floppers were in the NBA or NCAA. Greg Paulus didn't learn how to flop from the Italian National Team; he learned from John Stockton. JJ Redick learned the leg kick flop from Reggie Miller. Reggie, who in his own self-produced ESPN 30 For 30 feature (which was awesome) basically admitted to transforming a John Starks glancing headbutt into one of the most violent acts witnessed in a NBA playoff game.

Not to mention, Bruce the damn Bowen!**

On the opposite side of the coin, I could easily mention that Steve Nash doesn't have a reputation for flopping, and seeing as he grew up loving soccer and watching soccer and playing soccer, and recognizes the obvious connections between basketball and soccer (myriad, by the way), he seems like he would be a great candidate for the Souhan Axiom. But he doesn't fit, because as I previously mentioned, the Souhan Axiom on Basketball Players who Grew Up With Soccer is total bullshit.

Not to say that soccer doesn't have flopping. Of course it does. It is often egregious. But to be fair, soccer can be much more violent than basketball  as well. At least, I don't remember the last time I saw bone poking through a sock in a NBA game. I can't watch the video of Eduardo's leg getting broken, but maybe you can!

And it is worth stating that the best player in the World, Lionel Messi, never dives. Sometimes to his own detriment. I mean, for real, watch this highlight real of him getting savaged, and tell me that soccer players are all a bunch of flop artists who don't take real contact, or however that tired argument goes. Soccer isn't "The Beautiful Game" every single time it is played, but I think if you come away from a highlight package of Messi slipping tackles and shirt pulls and takedowns and go "Enh" then there is probably something wrong with you.

*You want his exact wording, you can go here.
** Yes, that was an odd reference to NewsRadio's Jimmy James "Kermit the Damn FROG" But seriously, Bruce Bowen was a flop-artist extraordinaire, and he didn't grow watching soccer, I'm guessing.


Andrew Wice said...

Methinks the Monkey doth protest too much.

Anonymous said...

Me thinks Andrew is a tool

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