In the Los Angeles Lakers' second-round series against the Golden State Warriors, there has been much ado about flopping. The latest: LeBron James wants you to know that the Lakers -- and all of his previous teams, for that matter -- are not a bunch of floppers.
"I just know that we, our coaching staff and us players, we don't work on flopping," James said after Los Angeles' 121-106 loss in Game 5 on Wednesday. "That's not even a part of our game. Our game is to attack, attack the paint. We don't mind physical contact. We actually like the contact and we don't shy away from it, so we're just not a team that goes out there looking for flopping opportunities.
"That's just not us. It's never been -- it's actually never been any team that I've played on in my 20 years, where we've been a flopping team. But it is what it is, they have their right to say what they want to say."
Some background: After the Lakers' Game 4 win, Warriors coach Steve Kerr called the Lakers "a team that plays with a lot of gamesmanship," adding that "they understand how to generate some calls." Kerr took particular issue with the illegal screens called against Golden State in the fourth quarter, but said he had to watch the film to confirm his suspicions.
Before Game 5, Kerr said his initial impressions were correct: "There was definitely some gamesmanship. And look, I give 'em credit. If you can sell a call in this league and do it, then you do it. Whatever it takes to win."
Kerr pointed specifically to an illegal screen called against Draymond Green with 3:29 left in the game, calling out Lonnie Walker for flopping.
"Really, really a tough call for us," Kerr said. "Tough call. I mean, it's a blatant flop. He just takes a dive, and the ref bought it. Like I said, you give 'em credit, but you lament the fact that, as a league, we're going to reward that type of play with the game and the series, all that stuff at stake. You would hope that the officials would recognize when a guy just takes a dive."
I mean, you be the judge:
Lakers coach Darvin Ham was about as pleased as James to hear Kerr's comments.
"We play a physical brand of basketball. We don't teach flopping, we don't teach head snaps," Ham said in his post-game press conference, echoing comments he made in an end-of-quarter interview on the broadcast. "You see Bron, he's got a thousand scratches on his arms, same with [Anthony Davis], same with Austin Reaves, same with Lonnie Walker. I don't know, it's unfortunate that it comes to that, but we hadn't done it all year, we're damn sure not going to start now looking for a third party to dive in and help us. We're just going to coach our team, we're just going to play the way we play -- that physical, forceful brand of basketball -- and just let the chips fall where they may."
Some teams and players flop more than others, but there is no team in the NBA that never embellishes contact in an attempt to get a whistle. It might be technically true that the Lakers coaching staff does not spend much practice time drilling proper flopping techniques, and it's definitely true that Los Angeles plays a physical brand of basketball, but neither statement constitutes a direct rebuttal to what Kerr said about the illegal screens in the fourth quarter of Game 4.
The Lakers flop. The Warriors flop. Everybody flops! Nobody, however, likes when opponents complain about specific flops publicly. This time of year, gamesmanship takes place both on the court and at the podium.