LeBron James: Miami Heat Star a Strategist, Not a ‘Flopper’

Like Michael Jordan, LBJ is a Lot of Things, but a Flopper He is Not

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COMMENTARY | The ongoing debate around LeBron James is whether the Miami Heat star is flopping his way to a 2013 NBA Finals title. Obviously, if you're an Indiana Pacers fan or belong on the anti-LeBron train, it's an affirmative. I'll counter by saying that King James is a strategist first, like Michael Jordan was.

Flopping in the NBA: A theatrical weapon of choice for inferior players

Thursday, the NBA handed out three flopping violations: one to LeBron James, the other two to David West and Lance Stephenson.

Based on the league's new anti-flopping policy, each player must pay $5,000 each for allegedly exaggerating contact during Game 4 of the 2013 Eastern Conference Finals, according to a CBS Sports report.

The act of flopping has been frowned upon for many years, obviously by fans of the opposing team and particularly when the scoreboard spells doom for them.

The fines come as no surprise at all. With a combined total of 55 penalties, a heap of physical play and pressure from the sports establishment, it wasn't a question of "if" but "when" the league took action.

I am not opposed to flopping -- if that's what you want to call it -- especially when it involves a player who, pound for pound, is the best baller on the planet. No question about that.

But when embellishment becomes more of a dependency because an inferior player has no answer for his opponent, it becomes pitiful and more like an act of desperation. It becomes mere theatrics and a Hail Mary attempt when all hope appears lost. In short, it's a flop-fest and nothing more.

This description does not describe the Miami Heat star.

Players like Tony Parker, David West, Chris Paul, Pau Gasol and Paul Pierce top my list of the biggest repeat offenders of flopping in the NBA. They've mastered the art of playing into the naivete of officials and biased opinions of analysts, just like a magician does with sleight of hand moves.

When time appears to be slipping away to log a "W" at home or on the road, these veteran players put on their best acting faces as if they are auditioning for a Broadway play.

The eerie reality is that flopping episodes are rising among opponents who are clearly outmatched.

And as I think more about these moonlighting stuntmen, it becomes clear to me what they all share in common: their first and last names are not LeBron and James.

If LeBron James is a flopper, so was Michael Jordan: How ludicrous is that?

Michael Jordan was known for annihilating his opponent by getting into their heads and reprogramming them in such a way that imposing his will was like taking candy from a baby.

Sure, even NBA referees are a bit star-struck. Who wouldn't be at the sight of Jordan's aerial moves and his ability to eviscerate a team's offense and defense like a puppet master? Why not play into that, especially if you have the goods to close the deal?

I can think of a myriad of arguments to use that debunks the loose association LeBron has to flopping as a first line of defense.

For example, when a Goliath-like boxer cowers on the ropes and doesn't punch his way out from punishing blows by his David-like opponent, the public calls him a coward or "big for nothing."

On the other hand, if the smaller guy is beaten to a pulp, the larger guy is called a bully and should "pick on someone his own size."

Arguably, standing at 6'8"and tipping the scales at 250 pounds, James is clearly the Goliath, as far as the media and those still sobbing over the Cleveland debacle are concerned. They're fixated on that notion and nothing can sway them out of that corner.

Monday, LeBron James responded to a question about flopping, according to ESPN.

His response: "Some guys have been doing it for years, just trying to get an advantage. Any way you can get an advantage over the opponent to help your team win, so be it."

It's not for a lack of skills that James takes a dive. Instead, I strongly believe he does it to throw a player off balance in such a way that it tips the scale in his favor.

Not many people can question the extraordinary athleticism the Miami Heat star has. And coupled with his high basketball I.Q., LeBron is a formidable weapon, just like Air Jordan was during his time.

Flopping as a defense for poor play is -- as Steve Kerr said recently, and I paraphrase - "unbecoming of the sport." However, when flopping is used to pit a player against himself, it is strategy and no different than talking trash during a game.

Jordan used it to reduce his opponents to mutton in days gone by.

James, the Strategist-in-Chief, is doing it today.

Bradley is a professional writer, journalist, sportswriter, and avid fan of the NBA, Motorsports, NFL, PGA and all things tennis. He keeps a watchful eye on Miami Heat developments.

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