Still Hating Marshall Henderson

Still Hating Marshall Henderson

Original version published at NewBlackMan (in Exile)

Marshall Henderson has been busy since his Ole’ Miss squad lost in the 2nd round of the NCAA tournament.  Once his season ended, which included his giving fans the finger, and the media celebrated his contributions to the tournament, he moved onto more important activities: encounters with the police.  In fact since March he has several face-to-face visits with the police, including a May stop where after being pulled over for speeding, he was found to be in possession of both marijuana and cocaine.  Ultimately, he wouldn’t be charged with any drug crimes, but instead was citied for not having insurance.  Say, what?  Given his history, and the draconian nature of American drug policy, the lack of intervention from the criminal justice system should give pause.

Reports of this and other incidents only surfaced after his coach announced that he was suspended indefinitely (not kicked off the team; not removed from school) from the team for violating “team rules” (as opposed to state law or school policies).

The media response to the suspension and to the reported arrests has been muted to say the least.  Called a “knucklehead;” “someone who has been enjoying himself;” as someone who is “battling a beast” and a sickness; as someone who keeps messing up; as someone who needs to get his life together, who needs help.  Not a thug, not a menace, not a criminal; not someone who should be kicked off the team, kicked out of school or sent to jail.   Understanding and compassion at every level.

Chris Herren, a former basketball player whose battles with addiction have been well documented, furthered the poor Marshall narrative:You can never minimize the fact that you’re jeopardizing your future. It’s tragic for me to see his situation knowing what I know, what I went through, what I did.”  Herren, who like Marshall was afforded many 2nd chances, further noted, “Ultimately, he needs to get down to the reason why a substance is more important than yourself, your family and your future,” said Herren. “Whether it’s basketball, football, baseball or any sport at a high level, the price to pay is a lot of pressure. That’s why he needs to incorporate some balance in his life and surround himself with people who have the same dream he does.”

With these events, and his continued ability to cash in on his “whiteness,” to get a pass because he does not elicit racial fear and outrage, I continue to hate Marshall Henderson.   There I said it. I hate that every time I see his name I am reminded as to white supremacy, about racial standards, of the history of the 3/5 clause, and of dreams deferred.

I realized long ago that my disdain for all things Marshall runs deep, where I couldn’t help but sit in front of the television to watch Ole Miss-Florida in the SEC tournament finale.  I am more likely to watch the Real Housewives of Iowa than an SEC basketball game, yet it was must see-TV because of my disdain for Marshall Henderson.  From March until now, from his trash-talking to his arrests, from his 2nd and 10th chances, he is emblematic of the racial scripts that pervade American society.

But let me clear, I am not a hater.  I don’t have sour grapes; I got outrage to injustice and he is indicative of this entrenched injustice.  My feelings have little to do with Marshall Henderson.  I don’t know the man. Nor do I have an investment in his daily performance.

My thoughts about Henderson have as much to do with the myopic celebration of his accomplishments, “colorful” personality, and “swagger” given the sordid history of integration at Ole Miss.  Given the “ghosts of Mississippi,” and given the historic mistreatment directed at African American students at this “rebel campus,” it is telling that Henderson has elicited praise.  It is telling that he has been elevated at the expense of his teammates, erasing their contributions to the team.

My emotional reaction is not about Henderson himself but the narrative, the media coverage, and the double standards that he is embodies.  “Marshall Henderson is the Charlie Sheen of college basketball – an unapologetic poster-child of white privilege,” notes Charles Moriano. “Despite a litany of on and off-court behavior that normally send sports media pundits into “what about the kids” columns with African-American athletes, Henderson has been most often been described as ‘passionate’, ‘colorful’, and ‘entertaining’.” Greg Howard describes the double standards that anchor the media response.

He messes with any racially essentialist expectations of what a white basketball player is supposed to be. He’s an incessant shit-talker who tosses up 30-footers, rarely passes, and has a conspicuous lack of “hustle” stats. He tokes an invisible joint after made three-pointers…Marshall Henderson by all rights shouldn’t exist. And if he were a black athlete, he wouldn’t—not as far as big-time basketball is concerned.

My contempt is about the public persona that he has created along with a media that seems not only OK but rejoicing in behavior that has become the basis of the sports-punditry-hater-industry when it comes to today’s black athletes.

Matt Rybaltowski is illustrative of everything I loathe about the Marshall Henderson story: “In an age of political correctness and the contrived sound bite, Marshall Henderson is an anomaly, a free-spirit college basketball hasn’t seen since Jason Williams brought his killer crossover to Gainesville in the late 1990s. Dating back even further, it’s not a stretch to consider Henderson a Bill Walton in a shooter’s body.”

Sports pundits are incapable of offering comparisons that are not racially segregated.  Whereas Bill Walton loved the Grateful Dead, protested the Vietnam War (he was even arrested during his junior year), and joined Kareem Abdul Jabbar and others in support of the civil rights movement, Henderson loves playing quarters and his “hoes.” I guess we can say Henderson protested injustice, calling those coaches who didn’t vote him first team all-conference as losers.  Comparing Henderson to Walton is like comparing Justin Bieber to Eric Clapton; white and involved in same vocation.

Whereas black ballers are continuously criticized for selfishness – “there is no I in TEAM” – Henderson’s aspiration to “get his money” or his propensity to taunt fans is a sign of his being free spirit.  He is celebrated for saying what is on his mind even if his mind seems to begin and end with himself.   It is a striking moment of hypocrisy where not only does Henderson get a pass for his trash-talking, self-promotion, and his shot selection, but when he is imagined as exceptional.  In an age of media scrutiny, where (black) athletes are routinely criticized for deviating from the prescribed scripts, it is striking that he is celebrated by the same media that makes millions off telling today’s (black) student-athlete to shut up and play.

This past fall, Cardale Jones, a student-athlete at Ohio State University, had the audacity to tweet: “Why should we have to go to class if we came here to play FOOTBALL, we ain’t come to play SCHOOL classes are POINTLESS.” Not surprisingly, he was pillared, critiqued, and cited as evidence of what’s wrong with today’s student-athlete.  There were no headlines about his refreshing challenge to political correctness and no celebratory articles about his free-spirit and the passion Jones has for his sport.

Marshall Henderson has had more collegiate addresses than John McCain has homes.  He has taken his talents across the nation, playing in multiple time zones. He is the Bobby Petrino of collegiate basketball.  Over three years, he has attended the University of Utah, Texas Tech University, South Plains Community College, and Ole Miss.

Yet, the story told has not been one of a checkered past or an ability to commit, but instead one worthy of celebration.  He has travelled a difficult road in search of his dreams.  Despite a Kardashian-esque level of commitment, Henderson’s road to the NCAA tournament has come to signify his “rags-to-riches” story of redemption.  His past is evidence of the difficulty he has overcome and why ultimately we should love him.

He is praised for individuality and for his refusal to accommodate societal demands.  Henderson shares in this celebration, noting, “That’s just who I am, on and off the court, I like to wear my hat, my hoodie and some shades.” Yet, as Moriano notes, his ability to be himself, to express his own individuality is the essence of white privilege. “Young African-American men have no such luxury – on or off the court. At worst, wearing a hoodie can help get you killed like Trayvon Martin, and on just an average New York City day, it will get you ‘stopped and frisked’.”

Henderson is praised for the “joy” and “passion” he plays with, yet every athlete is not created or critiqued equally. Not every athlete is entitled to taunt Florida fans, to shoot with reckless abandonment.   Irrespective of fact that he shoots almost 15 shots a game, or fact that he shoots less than 40% from the field, he is depicted as scorer and an offensive talent.  He is the 14th leading scorer in Division 1, yet has the lowest shooting percentage of any player in the top 40.

The fact that he shoots and shoots and shoots is a sign of fearlessness and passion as opposed to arrogance and selfishness.  Henderson, despite embracing the aesthetics and practices long associated with hip-hop and blackness, is imagined as  “breath of fresh air for an American public “‘tired of trash-talking, spit-hurling, head-butting sports millionaires.’”  He is the walking embodiment of “everything but the burden.”  According to CL Cole and David Andrews, “African American professional basketball players… are routinely depicted in the popular media as selfish, insufferable, and morally reprehensible.”  Henderson is not burdened but instead celebrated for his “swagger” and “passion.”    Each and everyday he is able to cash in on his whiteness.

Yes, his whiteness.  While his father Native American, and while his twitter name, reps his indigenous identity, in the world of basketball, whereupon blackness is imagined as “normative,” as “non-black baller” he becomes white before our eyes.  He has a white pass, one he plays every time he sticks out his tongue or taunts an opponent.  And he seems quite aware of his white privilege.

“It’s a freaking game. It’s a basketball game. People take it so seriously that it’s funny for a little white guy like me to just come around, talk trash to people and the fans,” notes Henderson. “Like, what are you going to do in the stands? What am I going to do on the court to you in the stands? It’s funny just to mess with people.”

While Henderson imagines himself as a victim, who is criticized because he is “a little white boy” who “talk trash to people and the fans” in the end he is lovable villain, a person worthy of celebration.  He, unlike those other trash talkers, is a good kid and therefore should be judged unfairly because of them.

The privileges cashed in by Henderson are not limited to the basketball arena.  In 2009, according to a statement given to the secret service, Henderson, then a senior in high school, used “$800 of counterfeit money given to him by a friend to buy 59 grams of marijuana in two separate transactions.” With help from his coach and father, he was able to plea to a forgery charge, which led to a probation sentence.  While at Texas Tech, Henderson violated his probation by testing positive for alcohol, marijuana, and cocaine, serving 25 days in jail along with 7 weekends of work release.

Yet, he kept on playing basketball.

Compare his experience to two other African American student-athletes at Ole Miss.  Coach Andy Kennedy dismissed Dundrecous Nelson and Jamal Jones, following an arrest resulting from an officer discovering “eight roaches of marijuana made from cigarillos.”  While Jones was released, both were dismissed from the team.  As with Tyrann Mathieu, Nelson and Jones were held accountable in ways Henderson can only imagine.

Headline after headline, commentator after commentator depicts Henderson as hated, polarizing, and a villain.  Yet, this is our problem.  We are told over and over again that we are just haters; that we have problems with him because at worse he has a “chip on a shoulder” and at worse because he has swagger.  He is not a problem; it is us.  We just need to learn to love him.  No thank you.

I wonder when the level of understanding will be demanded for those “hated,” “polarizing” trash-talking ballers with a swagger, who are African American?  Maybe that is part of the post-racial fantasy we keep hearing about; until that is a reality, I will just keep hating Henderson, the sports, media, the NCAA, and those who chant “free Marshall.”  More than that I will find outrage about the stories we tell and sell about him.

In a week where the Trayvon Martin was put on trial in part because of marijuana use, where the ESPN Machine lamented over “yet another” drunk driving arrest in the NFL (yet again ignoring fact that NFL players are less likely to be pulled over for drunk driving than their peers outside the league) the differential reaction to Marshall Henderson’s arrests gives me pause.  The disregard for his history is the power of the whiteness.  The innocence seen is a sobering reminder of the separate and unequal nature of America’s criminal justice system, its media, and its other institutions.  So when I say I hate Marshall Henderson, what I mean is I hate injustice, I hate double standards, I hate hypocrisy, I hate white supremacy, and I hate that amid claims that race doesn’t matter reality shows how it matters in real and sometimes life altering ways.

It’s Bigger Than Jason Collins –

It's Bigger Than Jason Collins - POPSspot | POPSspot

It’s Bigger Than Jason Collins

By David J. Leonard On May 5, 2013

Special to  POPSspot | POPSspot

One of the time honored recent traditions within NBA media culture is the television shot of a players’ partner nervously watching “her man” on the court. Often deployed during the playoffs, this gaze adds to both the humanity and importance of the game. With Kobe Bryant, especially in the aftermath of Colorado, his kissing of his partner and his kids as he walked to the locker room served as an important moment to humanize him within the heteronormative (and marriage obsessed) imagination.

Jason Collins’ announcement hopefully paves a pathway where he or others can kiss their partner during halftime; his announcement hopefully marks a moment where a national television audience can bare witness to a nervous, anxious, and adoring male partner supporting his man. The reserved privilege for heterosexuals within the NBA has been challenged with the announcement. As was the denied ability for these players/men/ national role models to be themselves, to be visible amid the uber visible world of American sports. Saeed Jones made this clear:

Add to this that in a world where a narrow construction of masculinity, defined by physicality, (hetero)sexuality, and brutality is both celebrated and required, one hopes that Collins’ announcement opens up this space where simultaneously deconstructing the vary assumptions that have resulted in the “masculinity box.”

Yet, its bigger than Jason Collins.

While America loves symbolic change, has used Collins to celebrate itself as “evolving” and “progressing” toward a “more perfect union,” this Sports Illustrated article doesn’t mark the end to homophobia. Just as the election of Barack Obama didn’t mark the end of racial profiling, housing discrimination, racism within the criminal justice system and a system based in/on white supremacy, Jason Collins doesn’t mark the end of homophobia.

One has to wonder how many homophobic and racist jokes were cracked in America’s dorms and boardrooms while we celebrating “progress.” Clearly Jason Collins’ announcement did not mark the end of homophobia or usher in a new era on twitter. In the end, Jason Collins’ announcement highlights the importance TO CONTINUE to combat bigotry, institutional discrimination, and systemic generated privilege. It doesn’t mark the end of struggle.

From It’s Bigger Than Jason Collins – POPSspot | POPSspot.

Justice derailed: Chad Johnson and the domestic violence question

While appearing in court to formalize a plea deal Chad Johnson faced a new and unexpected challenge.  In 2012, Johnson was arrested and charged with domestic violence following an incident where he “allegedly head-butted his new wife during an argument.” Since then he has undergone therapy, and publicly talked about his failings, contributing to this plea deal where he was to avoid jail time.  In a sense, the court appearance was a mere formality.  Yet, that changed when Broward County Circuit Judge Kathleen McHugh asked if he was satisfied with his attorney, that all changed

Chad Johnson: “Yes ma’am.”

Judge McHugh: “Well you should be. He’s an excellent attorney.”

Chad Johnson: “I Know”

As to further note his appreciation and affection for his attorney, Chad did what athletes, both professional and those weekend warriors, often do: he gave him a pat on the backside.

While others in the courtroom laughed, the Judge saw little humor in his behavior (watching the video it doesn’t seem as if Chad Johnson saw any humor either), responding in kind:

I don’t know that you’re taking this whole thing seriously. I just saw you slap your attorney on the backside. Is there something funny about this? The whole courtroom was laughing. I’m not going to accept these plea negotiations. This isn’t a joke.

Despite an apology from Chad Johnson, the Judge held firm, sentencing him to 30 days in jail.

In other words, he was sentenced to 30 days in jail not for domestic violence, not for head butting his partner, not for causing a huge gash but his “attitude” and “demeanor.”   Whether or not this was a smart thing to do or whether it was appropriate (watching the video, I think it is hard to see it as disrespectful) is surely up for debate, but 30 days in jail is more than a bit excessive.  And if the issue was the court, why not contempt charges for all those who laughed.

Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless quickly weighed in on the situation.  Smith offered the following:

I can’t even put into words how disgusted I am right now at this man. This guy is out of the NFL right now because of his mouth, because of his absence of discipline, because he took things for granted. This show has been incredibly fair to this man, and you do the kind of stuff that you do, I can’t express how ticked off I am right now. You slap your attorney on the behind playfully in court? You are a BLACK MAN in court for headbutting your wife. A female judge is presiding over a case where you allegedly headbutted a female that just happened to be your wife, and you don’t have the common sense to know that you do not need to be in court playful about anything?? It doesn’t occur to you?

What is wrong with him? I don’t get it. I don’t understand it and it doesn’t make sense to me. All I know is this, you are officially a statistic for the next 30 days […] If that ain’t the height of idiocy, I don’t know what is […] “I don’t want to even say anything else. I’m scared of what else I’m gon’ say.”

Beyond the acceptance of a stratified criminal justice system, beyond the tone that positions Johnson as a stupid child, beyond the deployment of the politics of respectability, and beyond the issue being framed as one of “discipline,” Smith (and Bayless) do little to reflect on the meaning of locking someone up for 30 days for “making a mistake” or being too “playful in court.”

The sentence and the “First Take Duos” response seems to be based in this idea that Johnson was not respecting the court; his sense of entitlement was showing its face.  Those with power, celebrity, whether athletes or Wall Street executives, Hollywood stars or politicians, white college students or suburbanites are often afforded levels of privilege, impunity, and power otherwise unavailable to others. That of course isn’t available equally across the board, and race, class, gender, power and profession matter.  In this instance, it actually seems as if Johnson is being punished because of his celebrity, because of the presumptions about his sense of entitlement.  It seems that what he embodies, racially, what he signifies as black male athlete, black male celebrity, is playing out in harmful ways.  30 days isn’t nothing.

Most importantly, the Judge’s decision to punish him for his playful “ass pat” is yet another reminder that the criminal justice system doesn’t take the issue of domestic violence seriously.  He was punished with jail time not for domestic violence but for inappropriate behavior in court.   He isn’t being punished for his disrespect of women, for his perpetuation of violence, but for disrespecting the court, the law, and the powerful.   The fact that as you read the many articles in the press there is little reporting as to what happen in 2012 is telling.  The fact that the Evelyn Lozada is barely mentioned is revealing.  Little about domestic violence in this case and the broader issue; little about Johnson’s therapy.  We need to deal with the issue of domestic violence throughout society, and the judge’s decision not only feels excessive and the ultimate exhibition of power but worse it further displaces the domestic violence from the conversation.

In the end, it seems as if the court and the Judge didn’t take the proceedings seriously, didn’t take the issue of domestic violence seriously, since in the aftermath what are we all talking about . . . not domestic violence.  And that is the true shame.


It is the media’s fault: Hatin the Spurs

I only root for one team: the Lakers.  To root for another team feels like a betrayal.  I also don’t root against teams unless they are playing the Lakers; that is pure haterism.  My love of the game, and my passion for basketball has nothing to do with hating on other teams.  Yet, I find myself increasingly wanting to root against the Spurs.  And it has nothing to do with the Spurs per se (although their clothing game leaves something to be desired) but rather the media discourse that surrounds them.  My increasing disdain for them is not so much about their incessant pick-n-roll offense or the endless 3s they shoot, but the media praise of exceptionalism.

Greg Doyel is the perfect example of this.  He recently penned, “Forget thrilling: Boring consistency may win Spurs a fifth NBA title”:

They win because that’s what they do. It’s who they are. Latrell Sprewell and Kenyon Martin and Rasheed Wallace and even LeBron circa 2007 swing hard and wild. They grip it and rip it and entertain fans by visiting spots all over the course. The Spurs don’t do any of that. They keep it in the fairway, hit the greens, don’t turn the ball over. They win the NBA Finals.

You could try to talk to the Spurs about what happened Thursday night, but you won’t get very far. They don’t say much, which is their right. Some guys, some franchises, live for the camera. They may pretend they don’t like the media attention, but they show up for press conferences in capri pants and Urkel glasses. They want that attention off the floor, because for whatever reason all the attention on the floor isn’t enough. That’s the Heat.

This is the Spurs: They come to press conferences with nothing interesting to wear, nothing interesting to say and no apologies to make about either. Tim Duncan was asked Friday about the promise Tony Parker had once made to him, about getting him back to the NBA Finals, and Duncan just nodded: Your point? So the point, Duncan was told, was that Parker had said it and now he has done it, and so has Duncan ever reminded Parker about the promise, or thanked him for delivering?  They just play, this whole team. The right pass. Right shot. Right defensive rotation. Maybe it doesn’t make for great TV. Maybe it should. Maybe the Spurs are the most admirable team in the NBA today — a team so comfortable with itself, it believes winning a game is the most interesting thing possible.

The only thing missing from the article is a quote from Billy Hoyle (White Man can’t jump) when he said, “A white man wants to win first, look good second. A black man wants to look good first, win second.”  Dog whistles or just pure screams? Given the NBA discourse, and the ways that race, nation, and identity operate, the Spurs are being imagined as exceptional and different from the league’s predominantly black players.  Evident by ubiquitous media representations of Spurs as “the very incarnation of humility” (Fareed, 2006, p. 57) and a widely circulated narrative that consistently imagines them as a team defined by “hard work, self-sacrifice, and the honor in labor in order to secure a piece of the American Dream” (Fareed, 2006, p.58), the celebrations from the likes of Doyel and Dan Wetzel are ripe with racial, nation, and gendered meanings. According to Dave Zirin, “Athletes in the eyes of many fans are too spoiled, too loud, too ‘hip-hop, too tattooed, too cornrowed – all of which translates to players are ‘too black’” (Zirin 2004).  Hard to think that the media does not share this same disdain and discomfort?

Within the NBA, the black body regard functions as “a site of spectacle,” as “a potential measure of evil, and menace,” necessitating containment and control (Denzin, 2001, p. 7).  As such, the racial signifies attached to the Spurs (and those attached to the Heat) derive its meaning from the ways in which blackness is represented on and off the court.

Nate Taylor, with “For Spurs, Every Game is a Global Summit,” reiterates the often-uttered praised for the Spurs and international players as a whole that emphasizes culture and values:

For R. C. Buford, San Antonio’s general manager, having the most international players in N.B.A. history was not necessarily done by design. For years, he has worked with Coach Gregg Popovich to build a team that fits Popovich’s system, which emphasizes teamwork and selflessness. These concepts may be easier to sell to players who learned the game far from the hype that can distort the development of fundamental basketball in the United States (ht @jacobjbg)

With ease, the Spurs yet again becomes a moment to posit a “model minority” discourse where the “nonblack” and international NBA players reflect the desired qualities of humility, teamwork, and fundamental play long reserved for whites within a sporting imagination.  Who needs facts when you have a compelling narrative.  Never mind, LeBron’s intellectual mastery of the game; never mind the unselfishness of Heat players or the hardwork of every NBA player.    Never mind, Manu’s questionable shot selection or Tony Parker’s tendency to dribble out the entire shot clock (or fact that he is a shooting PG) or the Spurs up-temp style of ball, the Spurs have come to embody the antithesis of ballers, hip-hop, and blackness  within the NBA imagination.

These comments should also give us pause at sporting level because the celebration of Spurs as being all about winning, about team and championships, compared to the Heat, is laughable given that the Spurs haven’t won a title in 5 years.  This year their ethos and focus matters but what happened last year? The year before; and the one before that?  The Heat have been in the NBA finals three straight seasons so what gives?  What about the Lakers’ over the last 2 decades?  And even the Bulls, who were also about the show, who were known for their enjoyment of life, found ways to dominate?

While I likely wont root for the Heat or even against the Spurs, the likes of Gregg Doyle and their rhetorical drooling about the Spurs is challenging me to keep to my game.

The NBA’s “model minority”: The Exceptional Spurs

While not explicit there seems to be this subtle tone that the Spurs success reflects the number of international players.  The constant references to their unselfishness, team-first, and playing the right way encapsulates these sort of narratives and tropes.  The constant discussion of their teams intelligence (last night Boris Diaw was celebrated as a smart basketball player — nevermind that every NBA players has a high basketball IQ – right before he went for terrible steal leading to foul on Duncan) operates through a particular racial and national landscape.  The imagination of the Spurs as “model minorities” given the league’s demographics and their team roster should give us pause.  The imagination of the Spurs as hard working “immigrants” who play the game “the right way” is a window into some larger discussions and discourses

From “NBA Finals boast record international presence”

Social media has allowed sports fans all over the world to connect with one another in ways they never have before, and for the 2013 Finals, the NBA is taking that inclusiveness to even greater heights.

The NBA announced in a press release that the Finals between the Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs will be broadcast in 215 countries and territories and be translated into 47 languages.

This year’s Finals features a record 10 international players between the two teams. The Spurs feature three French players (Tony Parker, Boris Diaw and Nando de Colo) as well as Argentinian Manu Ginobili, Brazilian Tiago Splitter, Australians Patrick Mills and Aron Baynes, U.S. Virgin Islands native Tim Duncan and Canadian Cory Joseph. The Heat feature Canada native Joel Anthony.

The Finals will be broadcast live in India on Sony Six as part of a new multiyear agreement, and many countries will have specialized experiences designed for them by the NBA.


American Exceptionalism and a culture of flopping

The NBA finals start tonight and while I am less than enthusiastic about the matchup, so much so that Chopped reruns might capture more of my attention, I am hopeful that the series will bring a lot of flopping.  Yes, flopping is what I am rooting for.  Besides the artistry and creativity, not too mention that talent required to deceive America’s best referee crew, the prospects of flopping will invariably send the NBA press corps into a tizzy. Fantastic.

The last couple weeks (and the season as whole) has prompted a series of hyperbolic, reactionary, and otherwise ridiculous columns on flopping. According to Ken Berger, “The NBA during the postseason has been as flop-tastic as ever.”  Calling for suspensions repeating acting on the job, Berger pins the game’s success on truthfulness and honesty: “ Nominal fines are doing nothing but encouraging floppers to do a better job of it so they don’t get caught. There’s only one punishment that will have any teeth with the players, coaches and front offices: suspensions.”

Israel Gutierrez seems to agree, equating flopping to cheating.

The label should push guys to keep it real.  Having the reputation as a flopper would seem to be a very unwanted label. Again, it implies you need to ‘cheat’ to succeed. And with all the other labels that get thrown around in the NBA (‘dirty,’ ‘soft,’ ‘choker,’ etc.), you’d think you’d want to avoid this particular one.

But the leader of the pack is Marshall Zweig, whose assessment of the fluidity between Hollywood and Springfield Massachusetts is so over-the –top I found myself wondering, satire.  But I think not.

The public is watching roundball criminals get away with their crime right in front of our eyes—and no one is really doing a thing about it. . . .   Fines and embarrassment are not working well enough. The league needs to up the ante. And it won’t do it unless we all get on its case. So make your outrage count.

Given the NBA discourse, and the tendency to imagine its (black) players as criminals in the post-Palace Brawl landscape, the link between flopping and criminality is striking.  And not a in a good way.

Despite the league induced panic, flopping isn’t anything new. In “Flopping in the NBA: A History of (Non)violence,” netw3rk makes this clear, seemingly reminding those who wax nostalgic that “golden age” of the NBA was defined by rampant flopping:

Flopping is to basketball as farting is to being alive; it’s annoying, ridiculous, and sometimes embarrassing reality, but a reality nonetheless. If something has been part of the game since the dribble, it’s probably more apt to refer to it as a tradition rather than a scourge.

While I don’t find flopping to be ridiculous or annoying, maybe these critics are onto something.  Isn’t flopping just another word for deception, lying, and otherwise exaggerating or making up for the sake of a particular point?  Flopping is something America has an endless supply.  Land of the free, home of flopping.  American exceptionalism at its best.  Yet, it seems a movement has taken hold in the NBA; whose got next?

One can only hope that anti-flopping movement takes hold throughout this nation

Will politicians (yes Michelle Bachman) stop flopping on the House Floor?

Does this mean politicians will no longer lament the end of civilization because mothers are working since flopping is bad?

Will politicians who blame moms working for the nation’s education failure face a fine?  The league office would surely be busy if it had to regulate the flopping of Washington, Wall Street, or Madison Ave.

And while I am talking about education, isn’t No Child Left Behind the ultimate example of flopping since it has left most children behind?

And if flopping is so bad on the hardwood shouldn’t we push to have it removed from the news arena.  I believe the “F” in FOX stands for flopping

The movement against flopping could cause more damage to advertising than the DVR.

Because aren’t commercials just flopping; deception, exaggeration, and in some instances lies to compel action from the consumer?  If flopping is bad in the NBA, surely we should rid society of this destructive and insidious influence in our everyday lives.

The examples of flopping are endless (and yes I am rhetorically flopping here).  From “the check is in the mail” to “sorry I was late there was a lot of traffic” (and are we really sorry) flopping is part of our daily praxis.  Some examples are harmless – acting like an opponent elbowed you in the face – whereas others can lead a nation into war.

Now that is some real flopping.