“Flopping.” The act of over-exaggerating the impact of a foul to get a call in your favor. It’s most often associated with soccer, and today’s Champions League championship match between Barcelona and Man U was no exception.
I couldn’t help but remember Rajon Rondo’s comeback against the Heat in which he dislocated an elbow, had it popped back into place and came back to play with essentially one arm. In one case, a player grimaces and rolls around as if his life is over after a slight shove; in another, a player shrugs off a dislocated elbow and returns with his game face on.
The NBA isn’t exactly void of its own floppers either, and players have been increasingly called out for it of late. LeBron James gave what was called the “greatest flop of all time” in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals.
You do what it takes to win. In basketball, sometimes that means falling over for a 250-lbs. center when a 185-lbs. guard runs into you, and sometimes that just means sucking it up and popping that elbow back into place.
But somehow it seems like that gap is that much greater in the NBA. Admittedly, this could be because my familiarity with great moments in soccer is dwarfed by my memory of NBA comeback stories. But it just seems like there aren’t as many of those instances in soccer, whereas basketball is full of them (Rondo, Willis Reed, Kevin Durant, Derrick Rose, etc.).
They are two different kind of games that entail different styles of play– quick sprints down the court in three to five minute increments versus long 45-minute stretches. You could also make a cultural argument– those Europeans and Latin Americans always have a flair for the dramatic. And of course, it’s about the incentive structure and the kind of behavior is rewarded and punished with free throw, free kicks, fouls and penalties. And what about “taking one for the team” in baseball? The hitter who inches up a little to get brushed by a ball inside?
This is a rather inconclusive thought. Not a value judgment one way or another, just some recent event-inspired musings. And maybe a shout out to any more knowledgeable soccer fans out there that might be able to shed some light on the issue!