There was something missing from the Portland Trail Blazers this year. It was evident late in games: There was nobody driving to the basket and getting to the free-throw line. There were no arms flailing, no screams reaching the rafters as the ball sailed aimlessly overhead.
There was no Brandon Roy.
As the NBA’s unabated flopping continues to run rampant through the league, those around the game are finally starting to speak up.
While watching the playoffs, it’s clear to see players faking their way into calls is getting out of control. It’s so bad we’ve reached the point where both players involved in “collisions” are trying to sell the call.
Portland fans should be proud. Sure, the Blazers aren’t in the playoffs. But fans in the Rose Garden weren’t subject to watching players take dives game in and game out this season.
That wasn’t the case from 2006-11.
Brandon Roy was the team’s lone star. As such, he received star treatment. He got calls the average NBA player may not have received. That led to him trying to get even more calls. Instead of going strong to the rim, absorbing contact and finishing, he would get into the lane, toss the ball toward the rim, flail his arm and let out a scream. Sometimes this would draw a whistle, other times it wouldn’t. When the referees didn’t call the foul, Roy would grimace and whine. What he should have done was get back on defense.
In today’s NBA, the focus has shifted. No longer is the primary goal of a star player to score field goals. Instead, stars’ main objective is getting to the free-throw line.
That robs fans of excitement, it slows the pace of the game and it puts too much power into the hands of the officials. Getting fouled happens. When it does, officials need to call it. Players’ primary concern, however, should not be drawing foul calls. Free throws are a subsidiary part of the game. The concern should be scoring regardless of contact.
But because so many players – beginning with Vlade Divac – have made a living off scoring cheap points from faux fouls, acting is a skill players have started practicing.
It’s hard to deny that it helps win games. Look at the four teams still playing: They all have notorious floppers. Derek Fisher, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo – for all their brilliance, well except Fisher –all are guilty of taking dives.
And the Spurs have the reigning King of Con, Manu Ginobili.
Just like any other Blazers fan, I would love to see them in the conference finals.
On the other hand, I appreciate a team that plays the game the right way and doesn’t have to rely on fraudulent foul calls to win games.
That is why I am glad to see Brandon Roy and his flopping style gone from Portland.