Basketball’s ‘Flopping’ Problem

The Oregon Ducks’ Dillon Brooks is one of the nation’s most talented basketball players, a 6-foot-7 forward who can score on the block and possesses enough quickness and handle to double as a guard within the Ducks’ offense. There is little Brooks can’t do, but when the junior tries to extend his talents to other arenas, the results can be, well, a bit embarrassing.

For instance, during Thursday’s win over Pac-12 opponent Utah, Brooks attempted to draw a charge on freshman guard Sedrick Barefield. It wasn’t pretty:

Flopping, in which a player intentionally falls after little or no contact from an opposing player in an attempt to draw a foul, is a problem in basketball, and there have been some very bad ones in the history of the sport. Duke is routinely lampooned for their ability to throw their bodies on the ground at just the slightest touch, and a Google search of ‘Marcus Smart flops’ yields nearly 500,000 results criticizing the Boston Celtics’ guard’s ‘defense’.

But Brooks’ maneuvering was particularly egregious. It wasn’t just that he threw his head back—the hopping on one foot backward while launching his body across the paint was equally as painful to watch. Luckily for Brooks, it’s not like this video won’t linger in the depths of the internet for eternity. In 2013, Grantland’s Jason Concepcion added some historical context to the art of flopping, which had been perfected by the dominant Celtics squads of yore:

There’s a saying, usually attributed to Winston Churchill, “History is written by the victors.” We never think of the great Celtics teams of the ’50s and ’60s as, literally, creating modern flopping, because they won so goddamn much. They did what they were trained to do: compete for any edge, over every inch of the very fabric of the game.

We think of flopping as something popularized by those Europeans, Vlade Divac and the like, right?

Far from being some newish malady, the roots of flopping go back to the earliest days of the game itself.

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