Foreigners are ruining the NBA!
Is anyone else worried about the direction Sports Guy (Bill Simmons) seems to be taking lately with regards 'Foreign' players in the NBA or is it just me? I'll paraphrase this by saying I am a big fan of his work, and a long term reader. He's funny, generally pretty incisive and brings a nice human touch to the sometimes stale profession that is sports journalism.
I did, however, find his two most recent pieces on the NBA a little worrying. In both he made reference to the influx of 'foreign' players bringing 'flopping' (or diving) into the game.
''Ve have located ze source of ze issue vith the 'flopping' in the NBA, it vill come as zero surprise that it is ze dirty foreigners!''
He starts with the following in this piece;
''The single most disgusting NBA development of the past few years? The flopping. Slowly, regretfully, inexplicably, the sport is morphing into soccer -- as exemplified by Kirilenko's swan dive near the end of Tuesday's Jazz-Warriors game that fouled out Matt Barnes, or Kirk Hinrich's perfectly designed flopparoo to draw Chauncey Billups' fourth foul in Detroit Tuesday. I blame the influx of European players for this trend because flopping has always been an acceptable part of soccer; they grew up watching that crap and understood that it could work in basketball as well''
So let me get this straight, there was no flopping/diving in the NBA until the foreigners arrived? Well, that's pretty ridiculous. I have been an NBA fan since the early eighties and have seen plenty of red blooded, 100% American players take a dive when the situation to take advantage of the rules arose.
Simmons seems to have a vague interest in Soccer but more often than not gets his facts horribly wrong when it comes to the Worlds most popular game (bar none, fact). Flopping has not always been acceptable, it is a relatively new phenomenon that is now a real problem in the game. To say it has always been a part of the game simply shows that you are new to the game and don't really know anything at all about it. If you had met the great Johnny Giles in a bar and told him 'flopping' was an accepted part of soccer, well, let's just say the best you could have hoped for would be a strict verbal rebuke. If you were to have said the same to Vinnie Jones, he would have kicked you into next week.
There is no denying though that 'flopping' has definitely become a problem, and something that fans are getting more and more fed up with. Much like the NBA, until FIFA decide to act, players will continue to use this ugly tactic to gain an advantage during a game. The worst floppers? Dider Drogba, Ballack and Robben of Chelsea, Christiano Ronaldo of Manchester United and the entire German national team. The Brazilians are pretty bad too, come to think of it. Ronaldinho, while supremely talented, is a serious proponent of the flop. The dive. Whatever you want to call it.
It is, however, a relatively new phenomenon, and something that players simply did not get away with less than ten years ago. It would have been far less lazy of Simmons to investigate the actual, real reasons that today's highly paid, heavily pampered NBA players have taken to flopping, instead of resorting to the old Wiemar Republic argument, picking out a minority group and blaming them for any problems or issues arising at the time.
In his other most recent piece, Simmons takes another clumsy swing at 'Foreign' players.
''Have you ever seen more players utterly convinced that they've never committed a foul in their lives than the guys from this Spurs-Suns series? What an annoying bunch of whiners; it's like watching the 2006 World Cup with more whistles. If that's what we get for having "the most international NBA playoff series of all time," then screw it -- let's make rules that no team can have more than three foreign players so we don't have to watch these guys bitch and moan for two straight hours.''
So in the first section Sports Guy was shooting at European players and in this he expanded his target area to 'all foreigners'. This is dangerous stuff. First and foremost, it is entirely without basis. Once again Simmons takes a swipe at Soccer ('' it's like watching the 2006 World Cup with more whistles'') and ends up just looking bitter and foolish. If you don't fully understand something, leave it alone.
Take cricket. I don't get it fully, I understand some of the basics, however I have no clue what's going on most of the time. So what's the point in me making fun of a game that looks silly to me, just because I don't understand it? It's that old chestnut, many Americans simply don't understand that there are exciting 0-0 draws in soccer, and some of the best games end 1-0. Like all sports, there is a flow to the game, it has something special other than the rules and statistics that brings entire nations to a stand still when their country is playing a big game. To knock it as Simmons is there is just drawing attention to his own ignorance of the sport.
It gets worse though.
''let's make rules that no team can have more than three foreign players so we don't have to watch these guys bitch and moan for two straight hours.''
So the entire Suns and Spurs rosters are made up of these nasty, flopping foreigners? Really? It actually isn't even funny, it's dangerous. Blaming anyone who doesn't come from LA or Nebraska, blaming foreigners for the problems inherent to the NBA is lazy, ignorant and irresponsible. To pick on a minority group is pretty unclassy for a guy who generally rises above the label of 'shock jock'.
I would ask Sports Guy, why is it wrong for Imus to label the Rutgers women's basketball team 'Nappy headed hos' when it's okay for him to make a pretty shoddy, sweeping generalisation and blame all foreign players for what's wrong with the NBA today? Does he honestly not see the correlation?
Personally, I am really hoping that Simmons, constrained for time, simply mailed this one in, and doesn't actually believe that it is the dirty, smelly foreigners that are ruining his beloved game of basketball. The alternative is really too scary to consider, when you take into account Sports Guys enormous group of loyal readers.
If he really does believe that it's 'those foreigners' that are to blame for flopping in the NBA, well, how long before he grows a little moustache and starts gesticulating wildly while speaking?