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James Harden: In His Flop Era


James Harden is often regarded as one of the most influential and well known NBA players in basketball history. While he is undoubtedly one of the most talented and skilled players in the league, his reputation for “flopping” has sparked many conversations as fans, professional analysts, and actual NBA players look at his weird playstyle. Flopping—the act of exaggerating contact to draw fouls or deceive referees—has become a part of the modern NBA, and Harden is often at the center of these discussions.

Understanding Flopping

Before delving into James Harden’s reputation of being a “flop,” it is crucial for the audience to understand the concept of flopping in basketball. Flopping is when a player exaggerates contact, often to trick referees so they call out a foul on an opponent. This tactic is used to gain an advantage and is generally considered unsportsmanlike behavior. Usually, at least one free throw is given to the “injured” person’s team.

Harden’s Flopping Reputation

James Harden’s reputation as a flop artist crops up subtly throughout his legendary career. Harden is known for his incredible scoring ability, but nowadays, is particularly notorious for his skill in drawing fouls. While this has somewhat helped him become one of the top scorers in the league, it has also led to what some critics call “lazy Harden,” who draws fouls to drag the game out. Many of us fans wonder if he will ever change his playstyle and restore his original glory.

The Role of Drawing Fouls

Harden’s style of play focuses on mostly on drawing fouls from defenders. He is a master of using his strong body to create contact, especially when shooting three-pointers, and then abusing the foul shots he can get. I, as a former Harden fan, think that his play style is great, but I believe his flopping has gotten out of control.

The Evidence

Even many Harden fans can name numerous times where he appears to exaggerate contact, falling to the ground in a dramatic fashion after minimal contact or sometimes no contact at all. These incidents are often replayed on sports highlight shows, drawing attention to his flopping tendencies. They also get addressed as the funniest moments/highlights of many games. One infamous example with James Harden trying to foul out a shot went viral after Jordan Poole made fun of him.

Impact on the Game

Harden’s flopping has had several significant impacts on the game of basketball:

  • Referee decisions. Harden’s reputation of drawing out fouls may lead to referees being way more cautious when calling fouls involving him, which can influence the outcome of games. Also, the referees have probably had enough of Harden at this point.
  • Fan Perception. Flopping generates many negative opinions among fans, including both casual and die-hard types. Many NBA fans like myself argue that flopping makes the game less enjoyable to watch as it drags the game on, and we feel that it is just a petty way to earn a point on the scoreboard.
  • Legacy and Respect. Harden’s legacy as one of the greatest players in NBA history is definite. However, his flopping and his hamstring injury have really taken a toll on his original prime. Many folks anticipate the comeback of Harden and we want to know if Harden’s current play style is temporary or the new him.
  • Sportsmanship. The issue of flopping raises questions about sportsmanship in the NBA. Some argue that the league should take a more proactive stance in stopping flop plays to maintain the intended shape of what basketball really is.

Further Effects of Flopping

Harden’s flopping reputation is not just a single case, but has repercussions throughout the state of the NBA. Many current players are following in his footsteps as flop artists, notably including Marcus Smart and Joel Embiid. Flopping has become an increasingly common strategy in modern times, with many players using it to their advantage. The league has attempted to combat flopping through fines and penalties, but it remains a contentious issue, as some real fouls are indistinguishable from flops.

The Role of the NBA

Luckily, the NBA has taken measures to address flopping, introducing fines for players who are found guilty of exaggerating contact. While these fines are intended to discourage the practice, they have not stopped flopping from being used as a tactic in the game. The league faces the challenge of balancing the desire for a competitive game with the need for fair play and sportsmanship. What I’d like to see the NBA do would be to impose stricter rules, like disqualification for exaggerating sufficient numbers of fouls. This would discourage flops, even up the playing field, and also actually make games that were ruined by flopping much better to watch.

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