Don’t back down! Be man! Don’t be soft!

Many players and fans believe in this ethos, especially when applying it to “playoff basketball.” Me? I’ve always  found softness to be a winning bet, and its antithesis to be a sucker’s game. Dirk Nowitzki’s style was considered soft till he won a championship. The “soft” aspects of Chris Bosh’s game scare defenses out to the perimeter, exposing them to LeBron’s brutal drives. “Soft” is for winners, “tough” is for also-rans like ZBo and David West. Much as we try to make basketball some crucible of manhood, the truth is that it’s an exhibition of grace, where physical contact is repeatedly punished, whistle after whistle. Stop pretending that basketball isn’t Spherical Object Ballet and get with the program.

So, when Nuggets players taunt Stephen Curry as “soft,”, my first thought is, “go with it.” Curry is a skinny point guard who gets paid to make three-pointers far, far, from the paint. He will never come off as tough, and there’s really no reason for him to do so. What Curry can do, is draw more fouls. Look at how Kenneth Faried bumps Curry early, off the ball, before the play where Faried slided at Curry’s ankle.

Steph bounces off the first bump, drawing no whistle. Where’s the sales job? Where’s the Kevin Martin full-scale-flail? It was a moderate bump by Faried, but if Curry hits the floor, a flagrant could be in order. Instead, no whistle.

Perhaps emboldened, Faried kicks towards Curry’s ankle minutes later. The Golden State response is Andrew Bogut shoving at Faried’s throat, causing a flagrant foul and helping Denver’s offense on a possession where the Warriors could have easily just grabbed the rebound. It’s a dumb play, and it benefits the Nuggets immensely.

Before I continue, a few thoughts on Faried’s tripping of Curry, and the discussion surrounding it. Yes, it likely was a dirty play. I say “likely,” because there is the off chance that Faried’s trip was accidental. And I say “off chance,” because of the surrounding plays in which Faried tooks shots at Curry off the ball. From a Faried perspective, Bogut has been smacking him all series. Cycle of violence and such. While Mark Jackson’s postgame comments are a bit much, you can understand why Kenneth Faried’s possible targeting of Curry’s ankle might drive Jackson into a rage, or at the very least, motivate him to work the refs–just as you can see why Faried might lash out at other GSW players in response to Bogut setting brutally illegal screens all series.

The dumbest trope in the aftermath of all this is the notion that Warriors (and by extension, their fans) are betraying an ignorance as to how playoff ball goes. Hey man, it’s playoff manly stuff! You’re a noob if you can’t take all the physical physicality, physicalizin’ around! Oh, please. I’m sure if Derrick Rose comes back and someone kicks at his knee, Thibs and the Bulls fanbase will take that super calmly. The Warriors have a star, and he’s playing on injured ankles. They don’t appreciate someone (perhaps!) trying to intentionally re-injure their franchise player. The notion that a playoff-experienced team would take this stoically is ludicrous. You’d have to be an idiot to take this stoically. Mark Jackson should be bleating to the media and the refs. He must do everything in his power to protect his franchise player.

Anyway, back to the flopping.

The Warriors have suffered from a flopping dearth for quite some time. Even though Monta Ellis made dazzling forays towards the rim, he didn’t garner as many free throws as you’d expect. “That’s not what I do. That’s what they do,” Ellis once replied when I asked whether he’d consider selling more calls. I do believe that Monta looked at this as a matter of dignity. Many fans share that mentality, but I’d personally rather my favorite stars get to the line. There’s more dignity in winning with flops than losing without them. Monta’s gone, but the Warriors still lack that guy who expertly pulls off a less repugnant version of Maggette’s flail and wail.

It’s easy for me to say that Stephen Curry should sell more calls, of course. Curry is focused on navigating screens, getting in the right position, and a million other things that might distract him from flopping effectively. Still, there is value squandered in trying to fight through contact, rather than mining it for free throws. Think of flopping as jiu-jitsu, the martial art predicated on using an opponent’s momentum against that opponent. If Faried and co. want to strike out at Curry, Curry’s response should be to react as though Mark Jackson’s invisible “hit men” are actually firing bullets his way. Use the force of the contact against the Nuggets. Don’t fight through the contact; suf it like a wave that sends you to the line.

The Warriors will be at home for Game 6, in front of a rabid crowd, keen to alert refs to any Denver foul. Should the Nuggets seek extra contact, flopping the other cheek is the best response.

16 Responses

  1. Will

    Flopping would mean more calls for the Warriors, and theoretically more points. That said I think it’s a horrible fucking idea because it makes the game so much worse by giving the referees the balance of power. The W’s can beat Denver without flopping.

  2. Richard Radcliffe

    Regarding the alleged “trip”, Faried did not trip Curry with his leg, he gave him a hip/shoulder check. This can be seen clearly in this video from the baseline:

    You can call that move “dirty” if you like, but he was not trying to injure Curry. Your blog is incredibly widely read (clearly), so please disseminate truth.

  3. NuggetsFan

    I have gained much respect for the shooting ability of the Golden State Warriors during this series. But I will have to say that I am glad that the Nuggets finally stepped up and matched the physical play of the warriors without playing “dirty”. It is playoff basketball and to suggest that a soft player embrace his softness by selling a foul, to me is more dirty than a hard foul or bump coming through the lane. Flopping goes against the integrity of the game and is closer to cheating the sysytem more than effectivly using the 6 fouls each player is given per game.
    If the Warriors get past the Nuggets into the second round, you better believe that the Spurs will make make sure that Curry and the Warriors know what hard fouls are, the physical play will be at another level during that series.

  4. Chris

    Wussman & Squiggie – Maybe you two should just stick with soccer.

  5. Squiggie

    Look, if it’s good enough for Manu freaking Ginobli, then it should be good enough for Curry and Thompson. I say flop all damn day if it gets us the win. In fact, if there isn’t a man flopping during the pre-game layup lane, I’m going to be so pissed because I’ll know then that it means we’re quitters. And the only people who quit are terrorists and liberals. Let’s get out there and flop our way to a title!!! USA!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. Paul

    Look, I’m a long time Warriors fan, as well as a fan of this site, but I don’t agree with flopping as the solution to the physicality that this series has presented. This is my opinion, and you’re obviously entitled to your own, but flopping is the easy way out, and I definitely lose respect to players that play that brand of basketball. I understand that it can be a statistical advantage and positively impact the score of the game, but those “cheap shots” or no calls weren’t the reason the warriors lost that game. The Warriors weren’t physical in there own right, and did not defend the ball like they have when they did win games. I admit that I am not a professional sports analyst, and you are definitely way more qualified than I am to make a basketball related statement, but that just isn’t what Warrior basketball is and should be.

    • Richard Radcliffe

      I’m a long-time Nuggets fan and that was well said.

  7. Brian

    Also, Curry is a baby. Trying to fight a fan?! Also, also Bogut’s neck jab was easily the dirtiest play of the series and Faried embraces the foul. He doesn’t cry about it afterwards.
    Also, also, also didn’t crybaby Mark Jackson order his team to foul Atlanta’s shooters late in a game earlier this year? So that the Hawks wouldn’t set some shooting record against him? What a hypocrite.

  8. Brian

    @Wussman ” I’m sure Hall of Famer Manu Ginobili is quivering in shame over your brilliant “wussbaby Manu” jab.”
    Manu reads your blog?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!?!!!?!?!!! Awesome.

  9. Chris

    Hey Wussman Straus,
    That is the lamest commentary I’ve ever read. If your so called non-all-star “franchise” player is too fragile to play playoff basketball, maybe he can sit up in the press box with you and whine about tripping fouls.

  10. Ethan Sherwood Strauss

    @Brian Hey man, not everyone’s super duper manly like you, guy who’s writing insults on the Internet. I’m sure Hall of Famer Manu Ginobili is quivering in shame over your brilliant “wussbaby Manu” jab. Fight on, Brian. Fight on.

  11. Ethan Sherwood Strauss

    @Brian “Wow, perhaps the weakest wussiest response to normal nba playoff basketball of all time. Is every Warriors fan a complete wuss? I thought Oakland was supposed to be tough?”

    Yes, Brian. This one article means every Warriors fan is a complete wuss. You figured it out. Congrats.

    • Brian

      @Ethan “Wussman” Strauss. Did you not notice the question mark in my comment? I was asking IF every Wussiers fan wants to respond to typical nba playoff basketball by flopping like a wussbaby Manu. I already know that you are low on the manliness scale, I was simply wondering if other Wussier fans love to use flopping instead of actual basketball skill to gain an edge.

  12. Brian

    Wow, perhaps the weakest wussiest response to normal nba playoff basketball of all time. Is every Warriors fan a complete wuss? I thought Oakland was supposed to be tough?