HANG TIME, Texas — The shot that will get the big run on all the highlights shows and the most clicks on YouTube will, of course, be Damian Lillard’s frozen rope jumper with 0.3 seconds left that provided the margin of difference in the Blazers’ 95-94 win over the Hornets on Sunday night.
But it says here that just as big a play came a little over a minute earlier and it wasn’t by a guard, forward or center and not by anyone in a Portland or New Orleans uniform.
Take a bow, referee David Guthrie.
The Blazers had squandered most of their 16-point lead when LaMarcus Aldridge got the ball on the left wing in front of the New Orleans’ bench and turned to drive the baseline on Ryan Anderson. Aldridge leaned in just slightly with his left shoulder and might have drawn a whistle for an offensive foul. Except that Anderson reacted as if he’d been charged by every bull that had ever run through the streets of Pamplona and flung himself to the floor.
What happened next? Aldridge simply stepped back and nailed a 15-footer with 1:04 showing on the clock that turned out to be the bucket that set up Lillard’s heroics.
Guthrie simply watched. And there wasn’t a peep of protest from the Hornets’ bench.
A flop is a flop is a flop. There was no need to send the video feed to the league office and wait for a ruling from the Sheriff of Floppingham, a.k.a. Stu Jackson. No need to wait a few days to levy a fine or pass down heavy-handed punishment after the fact. None of the extra level of bureaucratic nonsense that has entered the game this season with the advent of the Flop Council.
I would like to see flopping taken out of the game as much as the next guy. But we’re not even two months into the season and I’m already fed up hearing color commentators on League Pass talk nightly about whether this player should be warned or whether that player will get the dreaded fine notice or maybe a particularly egregious violator will be made to play for the next several weeks wearing a dunce cap and a bright red nose.
It’s a call that should be made — or not — right then and right there by the game officials on the scene, not somebody sitting in a New York office with a remote control in his hand, actually undercutting officials by second-guessing them. Tell them to be definitive on the spot.
If you want to drop the hammer on floppers, give the referees the power to slap them with technical fouls, maybe even an extra free throw for every additional violation in a game.
Or better yet, simply instruct them all to react like David Guthrie. Just ignore the fakers and let the game play on.