Vlade Divac and the Wussification of the NBA
Here’s a fun drinking game you can play with friends while watching an NBA game, no matter who the teams are. Every time a player on either team flops or whines about a “no call” chug your beer or take a shot. If you follow the rules, you’ll be drunk by halftime. If you want to slow it down a little, only take a drink when a ref actually calls a charge. For as frequently as they are called when they shouldn’t be, you’ll have a nice buzz by the fourth quarter but will still be able to hit the club after the game.
Believe it or not younger NBA fans, the NBA wasn’t always like this. Until a weird man with a weird beard was imported from Yugoslavia to the United States. Fearing the physical style of play that the NBA was known for at the time, this European counterpart had to develop a method to survive; and the “Vlade Flop” was born.
Vlade invented the flop when he played for the Lakers and really honed his flopping craft we he came to Sacramento and had to guard Shaquille O’Neal man to man on the low blocks. From 1999 to 2002 it was the only way the Kings could hang with the superior talent of the Lakers, but LA would always prevail. But thanks to the success Vlade enjoyed with the flop, other players began to use it in ever increasing frequency.
Even when he wasn’t guarding Shaq, Vlade employed the flop at least five times a game throughout the end of the 90’s and into early 2000’s. Vlade’s flop was unlike any other flop I have ever seen. It literally looked like a sniper shot him in the back the way his arms and legs flailed before his body tumbled to the earth. He would also make this weird Eurotrash face that looked like he was saying, “Ohhhh!” in tremendous pain.
In a way to counteract the flop and remove some of the grey area regarding making the call in the first place, the NBA in 1997 instituted the “No-Charge Area”, which was a half circle that covered a four foot radius. This made it a brainless call for the officials made it harder for the players to dispute or whine about a particular call.
I think the NBA was a lot cooler when you didn’t have guys flopping, trying to draw a charge every time a guy with the ball gets anywhere near them. In the early 90’s a charge was only called if someone got steamrolled, which is why the rule was created in the first place. And why do they do this? Because the refs award such behavior. Half the time the players on the court act like a charge is going to be called even when it isn’t thanks to the hijinks.
So if you’re looking for someone to blame, blame Vlade Divac. And his beard.
(Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/keithallison)