2012 Olympic Basketball: Nicolas Batum and the Groin Punch Heard Round the World
A man striking another man in the groin, in any context besides the need for immediate and dire self-defense, is an abhorrent act. When Nicolas Batum wound up and punched Juan Carlos Navarro between the legs, he shamed himself and his team.
Yet, Nicolas Batum’s crotch shot was the most justified groin punch in the history of sports.
When Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! asked Batum why he felt compelled to strike Navarro he said, “I wanted to give him a good reason to flop.”
Spain is notorious for working the officials, and Spanish players did seem to go down pretty easy due to gusts of wind. The frustration that this must have caused the French players is understandable.
Flopping in basketball is very different than other forms of gamesmanship as it can lead directly to a player losing the ability to play. In Olympic basketball you get five fouls before you are ejected. When players flop and get calls they make that number shrink.
A player works hard for the privilege to have his country’s name on the front of his jersey, and Batum was going to be damned before he let a Spaniard take that right away from him or one of his teammates without delivering a parting shot.
Flopping is the scourge of basketball right now. It can make players ambivalent about playing good, hard defense, as a flopping player can turn well-played defense into a foul call. Flopping helps further insert officials into games that should be decided players.
Spain’s flopping tactic is akin to poking someone in the forehead. All day the Spaniards just kept lightly jabbing their finger into Frances’ and finally Batum snapped. It is not an appropriate reaction to respond to a finger jab with a groin shot, but it is understandable.
Batum deservedly is being criticized for what was a disgraceful act regardless of justification. Just do not blame the basketball fans who have been subjected to loquacious players dramatizing themselves into getting calls for years, not being able to help but smirk when Batum drilled Navarro’s “special place” in an anti-flopping crusade.
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