Is the Dream Team Responsible for NBA's Flopping Epidemic?
The Dream Team is responsible for flopping in the NBA today.
I'm not accusing Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird or any of the remaining 11 Hall of Famers who comprised the 1992 USA Men's Basketball Olympic team of flopping during the games they played in or during their careers. However, the impact the team left on the NBA and sport of basketball across the world may have been the driving force to the dilemma the league faces today.
It is widely accepted that flopping, the act of an NBA player falling to the ground after making physical contact with another player in order to make a referee think a foul was committed, was introduced to the NBA by international players. These international players, in theory, learned the practice playing soccer growing up where flopping is much more prevalent than it has been in basketball.
The usual suspect for the original great flopper in the NBA is Vlade Divac, one of the league's first international players to make an impact. In 2007, Thomas Neumann from ESPN.com called Divac the second greatest flopper in NBA history at the time.
Divac was the forefather of the European flop movement, a man ahead of his time. He entered the NBA in 1989 as a horrible defender, and his Lakers teammates—most notably Magic Johnson—demanded improvement. "Most of the time, I flopped because I wasn't strong enough to stand up against everybody who was so physical," Divac told the Orange County Register in 1995, referring to his early NBA career.
If you subscribe to the theory that flopping gained prevalence throughout the NBA due to the contributions of Divac and other international players, then you have to look at the team that inspired a lot of the current international players to play the sport of basketball.
The Dream Team.
Josh Sanburn from Time.com's Keeping the Score blog interviewed Dion Cocoros, one of the executive producers of “The Dream Team” documentary that debuted Wednesday night on NBA TV. During the interview, Cocoros was asked what is the Dream Team's ultimate legacy.
The players from around the world that are stars in the NBA now, they were kids when the Dream Team was playing. Barkley says that guys like (Manu) Ginobili and (Tony) Parker and Dirk (Nowitzki) tell him all the time that their love of basketball started with the Dream Team. I think the legacy is being the greatest team ever but also opening the door for so many international players to play the game at such a high level.
The legacy of the Dream Team will include many things—including the passing of the torch from Magic and Bird to Jordan, the return of USA Basketball to Olympic dominance and the growth of basketball on an international stage.
Now we can add the flopping epidemic to the list.
Jamal Wilburg is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report.
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