The NBA's 10 Biggest Floppers
With the World Cup taking center stage and the NBA Playoffs winding down, now is as good of a time as any to analyze a common bond that connects two of the best sports in the world:
You can debate about the merits and beginning of flopping. Some will argue that the influx of European players and the style they brought to the American game had a significant influence and changed the way basketball is played.
Some will argue that it was always a part of the game, dating back to the '60s and '70s. My personal favorite anecdote is when Mike Newlin flopped to get a charge called on Dave Cowens.
Furious, Cowens waited for the next play to charge Newlin from behind, plow into him and send him flying into the press table. He turned to the referee and screamed, "Now that's a f*****g foul!"
More than likely, it's a combination of both. The seeds of flopping were probably planted back in the old school game, and the Europeans (and their natural soccer instincts) perfected it.
Regardless of how it started, flopping is a part of the game. And some guys do it better than others.
So here are 10 guys that might have mastered the art a bit more than others.
10. Andres Nocioni
A frustrating player to go up against, Nocioni has been called out by several of his peers as one of the biggest actors in the league.
In a 2008 game against the Clippers, L.A. center Marcus Camby and coach Mike Dunleavy both called out Nocioni for an egregious flop that might have been the turning point in the game.
Even then-teammate Ben Gordon slyly answered when asked if he thought Nocioni was a flopper: "No comment on that one."
That's not the only testimonial. Then-Pistons forward Antonio McDyess was quoted as saying, "He flops a lot... He just annoys you."
When you have multiple players and teams calling you out, you're probably guilty.
9. Sasha Vujacic
If you took an informal poll of NBA players, Sasha Vujacic would have to be one the most hated players in the league, right?
Maybe it's his annoying persona. Maybe it's the cheap shots he takes on players. Maybe it's because he looks like he spent last night chain-smoking in the back of a club.
Or maybe it's because of the way he tries to draw weak fouls on anyone he covers. Hell, he probably flops in practice when his teammates touch him. Do you think if he's walking down the street and someone bumps into him he goes tumbling backwards, flying into the street?
8. Hedo Turkoglu
Three players into the list, all internationals...notice a trend? Maybe they didn't bring flopping over, but they surely have mastered it.
Turkoglu is no exception. Maybe he's not noted for being an actor, but after this quote from the one-and-only Rasheed Wallace, he has to be considered.
"They've got to know that he's a damn flopper. That's all Turkododo do. Flopping shouldn't get you nowhere. He acts like I shot him."
"That's not basketball, man. That's not defense. That's garbage, what it is. I'm glad I don't have too much of it left."
Does 'Sheed have a case? You be the judge.
7. Andrei Kirilenko
Kirilenko is known for being one of the premiere defenders in the NBA. He has the ability to guard multiple positions effectively and has locked down some of the league's best scorers.
Still, in a league driven by superstars, you'll have to take your chances defensively. Sometimes that's going for a steal. Other times, that's going for the flop.
AK-47 has taken dives on some of the biggest stages of his career. I can't decide which of these two are more preposterous. Give him credit, at least with all of that twitching and body movement, his hair remains perfectly still.
6. Chris Paul
I really didn't want to put CP3 on the list. After all, he's arguably the best point guard in the league and shouldn't have to rely on tactics like this.
But fair is fair, and Paul uses his superstar status to draw more questionable fouls than anyone not named Kobe Bryant.
He's the best at absorbing any minor contact and making it seem like he took a baseball bat to the abdomen...especially when he gets out in the open court.
5. Paul Pierce
No one is questioning Paul Pierce's toughness. He's one of the grittiest, most hard-working players in the league.
But as a basketball fan (and an openly emphatic Celtic hater), I get nauseated whenever he gets fouled and lays on the floor for five minutes, writhing in pain and then bounces back up to go about the rest of the game as if nothing happened.
I'll give the man credit—anyone who was nearly stabbed to death and didn't miss a preseason game deserves bonus points.
But the wheelchair debacle that was the '08 Finals forever cements his place on this list. And Celtics fans can no longer call L.A. the "Fakers."
4. Raja Bell
Tell me you didn't forget about Raja Bell just because he hasn't played meaningful minutes in over a year...right? Right??
Once upon a time, Bell earned the coveted "most hated player in the NBA" status from yours truly. It was the way he balanced the line of grabbing jerseys, committing dirty fouls, and trying to punk opponents to his egregious and mind-blowing flops.
It's hard to believe a player that was known for being such an elite defender could also have flopped so ludicrously as this. In the fourth quarter of one of the biggest games of the year, somehow Bell gets this call:
3. Anderson Varejao
Being a Cavs fan, of course I have some bias towards Varejao. In my heart, I could never put him at No. 1 on a list like this.
But at the same time, he doesn't deserve it. Over the last year or two, he's worked tremendously hard on improving his one-on-one defense so as to not rely on taking dives too often.
Still, that moment comes every now and then. And when referees see that hair bouncing up and down and flying out of control, somehow they're more inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt.
Here's just one example. Granted, since Derek Fisher is the one "shoving" Varejao, maybe the Brazilian is owed a few karma points.
2. Manu Ginobili
No players draws more fouls with his body language and violent reactions than Manu Ginobili.
However, he should get the benefit of the doubt. He's a fantastic offensive player that uses craft, cunning, and deceptive moves to get his shot.
Still, I've seen teenagers getting slaughtered in horror movies with less reactions than Ginobili when he gets bumped.
Somewhere, Suns fans are silently nodding in approval.
1. Derek Fisher
He played with Vlade Divac, who's often noted as the biggest flopper in the history of the NBA...hell, maybe even the history of sports.
But Divac once said, "I don't know what is flopping... I think Derek Fisher does a better job of that than I do."
He's a 14-year veteran, so maybe he's just applying all the tricks of the trade. Maybe he's looking for any advantage he can get since he's not as athletically gifted as most other point guards.
Whatever the reason, Fisher has been called out as a flopper his entire life. Even recently in the Finals, Celtics coach Doc Rivers called him a "good flopper."
No matter what your stance on Fisher is, it's pretty clear he sets the bar for all NBA players.