I read an article in the Sporting News. It was written by center Greg Oden of the Trail Blazers. He talked about adjusting to the NBA, specifically the fact that he has been so foul prone so far this season. In it, he states the following:
“Imagine this. You’re me, 7', 285, and your job is to protect the basket at all costs. Now you look up and some skinny little guard is coming into the lane.
"Ok, you slide over-you have to keep him away from the basket. You set your feet outside the restricted area, you put your arms up. And the little guy lowers his shoulder and throws himself into you. He bounces off and goes sprawling to the floor like you were Mike Tyson or something.
Whistle. Foul on 52.”
Oden sounds frustrated, but anyone who has seen Oden knows this is a good kid. He is not bitter, he is not complaining, he is simply talking about his adjustment into the NBA. He continues on the topic.
“Foul trouble has been my biggest problem this year. It’s not just guards jumping into me; it’s also some of the big guys. I am bigger than most guys in the league, so what happens a lot is, once I lean on someone a little, boom, they flop. And they get the call. Veterans always get the calls.”
Again, Oden is not upset, and he goes on to say he will learn the tricks of the trade as he gains experience. He will figure out what he can get away with and what he cannot.
But Oden is acknowledging something that is scary.
In the NBA today, you either flop, or you are the victim of the flop. It has only taken Oden half a season to realize that because the NBA is officiated so poorly, and flopping is so accepted, he is going to learn to do it because he is sick of being the victim of it. He talks more about the flopping.
“That’s tough for me because it’s not my game. I have to learn to not be as aggressive because people are flopping and fouling the heck out of me all the time. I have to learn to flop a little too or else I am playing at a disadvantage.
"I would like to just go in and say, ‘Let’s both be as strong as we can and see who wins’, but unfortunately, people don’t play like that. In the end, you have to flop a little or you don’t get the calls.”
I read this and was outraged.
Not at Oden.
I was outraged at a league where a kid comes in, wants to be aggressive, wants to play the game the right way, but within half a season, he has learned that aggressiveness is not the key, flopping is the best way to get ahead.
What kind of league is this?
If I was the commissioner, I would read this and realize there is a problem.
Flopping is bad. In fact, anything other than passing, shooting, defense, and hoops IQ causing a team to win or lose is a huge detriment to the game.
A foul is a foul, but when a young kid comes into this league and sees quickly that learning to flop is a key to getting ahead, there is a problem.
The officiating in the NBA is a disgrace, and shame on a league that encourages and rewards flopping.
Oden concludes his article by saying “What I would most like would be for the league to make some rules against flopping and enforce them. As a guy who gets flopped against, actually, I would love to see that.”
I am not 7' tall, cannot impact an NBA game, but I am a longtime fan, and I could not concur with Oden’s last paragraph more.
It would be great if talent and brains were the sole reason a team won and lost in the NBA.