During his customary end-of-first-quarter interview with TNT's Jaime Maggio during Monday night's game against the Los Angeles Clippers, Memphis Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins said something that usually stays quiet in NBA circles: He said that Chris Paul is good at flopping (video via TBJ). While certain players (e.g. Manu Ginobili) are well-known for their flopping ways, Paul usually goes undiscussed in popular basketball discussion.
Yet, it also makes sense that Hollins would mention it now, and not just because he's playing mind games in the media in the hopes of swaying referees. Across the league, there's a growing opinion that the Clippers flop a lot. More than Paul, even, that feeling extends to young power forward Blake Griffin. Here's what Charles Barkley had to say on "The Dan Patrick Show" on Tuesday, as transcribed by Sports Radio Interviews (via PBT):
On Blake Griffin flopping:
"He made me so mad last night. I called him Vince Carter last night. Because Vince Carter was a great player — we used to joke he got shot like three times a game. I called him that on the show last night, I said 'Blake Griffin has turned into a new Vince Carter.' … He gets shot three or four times a game and just goes down. He better stop that flopping. He gotta stop that, because you can tell all these players are taking cheap shots because he's getting to be annoying with all the flopping."
On if Griffin will lose the respect of opposing players if he keeps flopping:
"No they just gonna enjoy hitting you more. Because what the mentality becomes then is, 'OK, if you're gonna flop I'm gonna knock the hell out of you.' That's actually the way it goes. They won't lose respect because he's a terrific player."
Watching the Clippers — and especially Griffin — can be annoying, because their flopping is flagrant and usually not even particularly well-hidden. That said, it's also becoming more a part of the NBA with every passing season. The San Antonio Spurs have thrived on flopping for years, and every major star — LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, you name it — has exaggerated contact in order to get calls. At this point, it's just another way for players to get a competitive advantage.
So why, exactly, are people so upset when the Clippers do it? Lee Jenkins of SI.com has a different theory, stating that the criticism is a sign that the Clippers are finally a threat, which means their advantage needs to be lessened in any way possible.
Or maybe the problem really is the style of it. The obviousness of their flopping can't be undersold; when something is so shameless it becomes pretty ugly to behold. And while other teams hide their flopping at least a little bit, the Clippers flaunt it so brazenly that it seems out of keeping with standards of NBA decency. They make a common tactic seem unfair, and when that happens the whole system of competition starts to look a little shaky.