Here is an early link to my Thursday column about the enormous scandal of Flopgate. The full text runs below:
OAKLAND — I hereby accuse Stephen Curry of telling a fib.
If he fibbed, can life ever be the same? Life as we know it.
It all started Tuesday night when Curry went up for a 3-pointer, flicked that flickable wrist, made the shot — pure beauty. But as he shot, he also shot his right leg into defender Terrence Jones and then he fell down. It’s a standard NBA technique. Shoot the shot, shoot your legs, fall down.
The league studied the game film, jumped on its moral high horse and convicted Curry of flopping in the extreme, of being a flopper deluxe, of flagrant and needless floppage. Fined the Warriors’ baby-faced superstar five grand.
You can watch the play on YouTube. Warning: You have to hear Mark Jackson say, “Mama, there goes that man.”
So, you bet I went to the Warriors’ practice Wednesday morning. A mystery needed untangling. A wrong needed righting. Virtue was at stake.
Steve Kerr sat in the big chair surrounded by sweating, pushing, posting-up media. Kerr has a youthful face — the friendly kid who delivered your paper when people still took the morning paper, the smiling kid at the malt shop wearing a bowtie who made malteds when people still drank malteds.
“Are you morally outraged that Steph got fined?” I asked.
“I am. I am morally outraged.”
Mama, there goes that man.
“Tell us why,” I said.
“Well, these plays happen every day. I don’t think a game goes by where Jamal Crawford doesn’t flop six times on his 3-point shots. It’s part of the game. I don’t blame him for doing it because a lot of times refs call it. Russell Westbrook does it. Everybody does it. So, all of a sudden, just randomly to fine Steph just seems kind of strange. Are we just choosing one time to do this? You could pick out flops every single game from half the guys out on the floor. Just seems kind of random.”
“Does that mean Steph did intentionally flop?” I asked.
“Probably. I didn’t ask him. It’s part of the game. You go up and a guy challenges you on a shot. I understand the league wants to get rid of it, but my point is, why do we let all the other ones go?”
Someone else asked, “Does this label Steph as a flopper?” It was like asking if Curry is a bed-wetter.
“No,” Kerr said. “I don’t think it’s a big deal. Like I said, I think he did flop. I think he does flop. But, I think everybody else does, too, and I’m not sure why they singled him out.”
Time for some textual analysis. What was Steve Kerr really saying? What were his deep messages?
Kerr’s initial line of defense is familiar to all of us: “Everyone else does it, so why pick on me?” You’ve heard it a million times in elementary school. Examples:
“True, I shoved Susie’s pigtail in the inkwell, but Elliott did it before me.”
“Sure, I didn’t do the math homework, but Howard never does it.”
“I admit I pulled the frog’s leg off. Arnold is a registered frog abuser.”
Kerr’s more serious line of defense — call it the real and true level of defense — was something like this. “My guy is the MVP and he should get the benefit of the doubt. He was merely trying to draw a foul like Michael Jordan did a million times. Curry, paragon that he is, doesn’t get to the foul line that much. Give him a break. And whatever you do, don’t hurt his feelings.”
Kerr also meant, but couldn’t say, that Houston’s James Harden is a known flopper. Kerr could complain about Crawford and Westbrook because he’s not coaching against them. He really was complaining about Harden. Like, “How can you give Harden calls and not my guy?” It’s not politically correct to point the finger at a playoff opponent. And Kerr is politically savvy. So, he talked about Harden without actually mentioning Harden.
Curry sat in the big chair after Kerr.
“Are you outraged that the league fined you $5000?” I asked.
“Yeah, I don’t agree with it. I watched the play over and it’s a transition play so, obviously, balance is not very good. I took a little contact getting some space off of Jason Terry. I didn’t even see whoever it was following. And when I shoot it, I see somebody come and hit me in my arm and, when you’re up in the air, there’s a reaction to that. That play happens countless times. I wasn’t even looking for a foul. I just reacted to contact that was on my arm. I don’t agree with it at all.”
“Did you flop on purpose?” I asked.
“No. After I made the shot, I ran down the court. I didn’t even expect the foul call.”
Someone else asked, “Are you morally outraged?
“It’s a good way of putting it,” Curry said with the proper measure of moral outrage. “They (the league) didn’t talk to me about the play at all. I figured they’d call and ask what you were doing or what you saw during the play, kind of get my side of it.”
Someone asked Curry if he is being unfairly spotlighted as a flopper.
Curry smiled. “I got a Most Wanted picture somewhere.”
Here’s what I think. Curry is fibbing. Even his coach said he flopped. I sure don’t understand Curry’s line, “when you’re up in the air, there’s a reaction to that.” Huh?
Laying it on thick.
Should we condemn Curry for the flop-and-fib combo?
Heck, no. I love what he did. Shows the guy is human. I thought he’s an angel or, at least, one of the cherubim or seraphim, whoever they are. Thought he’s way above a grubby slob like me. Not so — and thank you, God. Turns out Curry tries to get an edge like big-time floppers Chris Paul and Manu Ginobili. He performs the leg maneuver and then fibs about it. He’s one of us.
Flop on, Dude.
For more on the world of sports in general and the Bay Area in particular, go to the Cohn Zohn at cohn.blogs.pressdemocrat.com. You can reach Staff Columnist Lowell Cohn at firstname.lastname@example.org.