Wednesday, June 18, 2014


Swen Nater

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was a very skilled flopper. When I was with the Clippers, I was pretty physical when playing against him. In one game, I blocked him off the board so hard he spoke soprano the rest of the quarter. He liked to get the ball close to the basket at the low block and was not pleased when I took that spot first and made him fight for it.

In one game, when worming his way to the spot, he flailed his arms like I was trying to kill him or something. Then he manufactured a painful grimace like he was being brutally manhandled, while looking right at the referee with those sad eyes as if to say, "Help me. Call the foul. Don't you know who I am?" And guess what? As sure as Lloyd Free shoots the ball every time he touches it, the ref called a foul on me. Like I said; Kareem was a very good actor. In "Airplane," he was average but on the court, he should have been nominated for an Oscar.

When I got to the offensive end of the floor, I thought I would try the same thing and get a foul on him. When I moved toward the low block and Kareem pushed me a little, I embellished it wonderfully and thrust myself out of bounds right next to the ref. But all the ref said was, "Nice try." That December, I sent the ref a Christmas card in braille.

Flopping has been around for a long time, probably since the game began. Who knows; maybe Dr. Naismith invented the flop. But flopping has taken a whole new level since the European players arrived. You see, they played soccer. Need I say more? I've seen soccer players roll on the grass in so much pain I swore they tore ACLs, and then, as soon as they get the call from the ref, they miraculously are healed. Anyway, Vlade Divac was the first one I remember and he was good. But there has never been, nor will there ever be, a flopper as good as Manu Ginobili of the San Antonio Spurs. This guy is good and more than one referee has taken his bait. For example, when he drives left handed to the basket, as soon as he starts to get past his defender, he leaves his right hand back by the defender to make the ref thing he's being held. And if he doesn't get the call then, he jerks his hand back to himself so it looks like he was able to get himself free. All of this and the defender never touched him. When the Spurs play the Lakers in LA, I wonder if Jack Nicholson is impressed with Ginobili's acting talent.

Referees were bad then and they're still bad today. Two weeks ago, when playing full court which I rarely do anymore, I was running across the key full speed and the ref called me for three seconds. Am I that slow now?  Perhaps I should join the 65+ league where we don't have jump balls to start the games. The ref puts the ball on the floor and whoever can bend over and pick it up gets possession.


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