Anti-Duke Manifesto-The Complete Hate

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This patented ‘Duke flop’ is without doubt the most maddening innovation of the Coach K era, (with his players’ tendency to slap the floor at midcourt in a purported show of defensive solidarity running a close second). Over the course of an average game, the Duke opponent sees five to six baskets, or ten to twelve points (fifteen to eighteen if we count the three-point play that should have resulted), erased by this grossly one-sided call. Duke, meanwhile, receives additional five to six free throws as opponents are regularly whistled for blocks. Year after year, legendary athletes, from Jordan to Bias to Duncan to Carter, are unfairly handicapped by the spectrum of inferior Duke players jumping into their paths and flopping backwards, even if contact is avoided. Indeed, it is not unusual for slow-motion replays to show Duke defenders beginning their staged falls, before, occasionally in the total absence of, actual contact.

Much to the chagrin of flop-leader Shane Battier, it was because of this infuriating nonsense that the NBA actually amended its rules to prohibit offensive fouls from being called as the result of charges within five feet of the basket. And for great reason: games should not turn on the basis of inferior athletes deliberately diving into an opposing player’s path in order to manufacture an offensive foul call. This is not basketball. It breaks the flow of any game, angers fans, and endangers athletes. In a broader sense, it perverts the game by shaving points from opposing teams’ scores while simultaneously saddling their players with fouls that should never be charged.

The biggest absurdity is that this precise tactic is supposed to be a ‘point of emphasis’ for NCAA officials. Specifically, point of emphasis no. 2, taken directly from the NCAA rulebook for 2003-04, reads as follows:

The committee is also concerned with the defensive player who fails to attain legal guarding position and, consequently, impedes or blocks the progress of an offensive player going to the basket. When a defensive player attempts to draw a charge, but establishes defensive position late, he shall be penalized for a block.

Suffice it to say, most officials missed this instruction.

At its basic core, the Duke flop is simply a close cousin of a cheap, dirty play to which some third rate teams once resorted in the final seconds of lost games. Usually reserved for high school games played before less sophisticated referees, some of us saw it in the 1985 title game as Villanova was about to upset Georgetown. After a timeout, with only seconds remaining, the players returned to the floor. As the referee handed the ball over to be inbounded, a Georgetown player suddenly wrapped both arms around his opponent and fell over backwards, pulling the Villanova player on top of him. The hope was for a referee to miss the takedown, yet call a foul after hearing the players thump the floor and seeing the Nova player atop of the Georgetown player. Billy Packer commented on the ruse during a replay and put it well by saying, ‘Its really just a dirty play. Its one thing to play hard. Its another thing to play dirty.’

Isnt the Duke flop the same play in principle and spirit? Directly initiating a collision with an opponent by jumping into his path and initiating contact against the opponents will? As Packer stated well, playing hard is one thing and theres no question that Duke players do play hard but playing dirty is quite another. The Duke flop is, plain and simple, a dirty play for which Duke is rightly despised.