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Those Wacky Van Gundy Boys

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Apropos to nothing Clipperian, I find myself needing to say a few things about the Van Gundy's, Stan and Jeff.

JVG is really started to grate on me during the Lakers-Nuggets series.  I think Mike Breen is one of the best play-by-play guys around - I really like his 'bang' signature - but both JVG and Mark Jackson I could do without.  JVG can be funny at times, but his smarmy, all-knowing act has gotten really, really old for me.

Two things on last night's broadcast stood out in particular: 

  1. Very early in the broadcast, Carmelo drew a shooting foul on Trevor Ariza as he brought his hands up through Ariza's arm beginning his shooting motion.  JVG pointed out what a clever play it was, and seemed to imply that it was a lost art of some sort.  He singled out a couple of old-school guys who did it well:  Detlef Schrempf (OK, maybe a tad obscure, but a great and clever player) and... Dino Radja?  Really, JVG?  Dino Radja?  The guy who played in Boston for less than four seasons a decade ago?  That guy?  You couldn't come up with anything better than that?  Look, maybe Dino Radja was truly gifted at this particular maneuver.  Maybe he was the Croation sensation of drawing fouls in this manner.  But, seriously, who would know?  Who exactly was watching the Celtics in the late 90s?  JVG can't come up with a slightly more relevant and fresh reference than Dino Radja?  If you're going back a decade, give me an all pro (or at least a one time all star like Schrempf).  But we're getting into the wayback machine for Dino Radja?  Really?
  2. Later, JVG went on one of his rants, this one about the 'seven technical fouls in the playoffs equals a suspension' rule.  I'm not really sure what his point was, other than that he didn't like the rule.  The word 'arbitrary' was tossed about, somewhat arbitrarily, leading me to believe that perhaps he didn't know the definition.  (Are you sure you know what this word means, because I do not think it means what you think it means.)  In the context in which he was using it, I think the best definition from dictionary.com would be "capricious; unreasonable; unsupported."  Fair enough - I know of no particular support that has been put forward to justify seven as the magic number that would result in a suspension.  So, when asked what he would do, he said, without a hint of irony, that he'd make it nine or maybe eleven technical fouls.  He did this, it seemed to me, in a capricious, unreasonable and unsupported manner.  One might even say that it seemed subject to his individual will or judgment without restriction; contingent solely upon his discretion.  I dunno.  All in all, It seemed quite... oh, what's the word I'm looking for?

Brother Stan, on the other hand, is in the news for once again calling out opposing players for flopping.  Truthfully, I have little to say about SVG on this subject.  It hasn't been great PR for him when he's called out player's by name in the past, but whatever.

The reason the story caught my eye was that as I was watching Magic-Cavs game three, I was thinking what a master of the flop Ben Wallace is.  But not just any flop - a very specific kind of flop that he has brought to the level of art form, while few other players even try it.  I'm speaking of what I like to call the "Loose ball flop."

The ideal situation is when Big Ben has worked himself into inside position for an offensive rebound.  Now, anyone who has ever played basketball knows that inside position is great, and you want to have it, but sometimes the ball doesn't bounce your way - sometimes it bounces long, and you have no chance at the rebound.  Watch Ben closely in this situation.  If he's on the inside, and the ball bounces long, he WILL, absolutely, I guarantee it, flail his hands in the air, jump forward (possibly accompanied by a fall) and scream out. (The Clippers own Marcus Camby is probably the second best in the league at the loose ball flop, but it's a distant second - Wallace is really in a class by himself on this one.)

Ben Wallace is a very strong man.  Dwight Howard is a very strong man, also, it must be noted.  But Ben NEVER gets pushed out of the way on rebounds that he's actually got a chance of getting.  The ONLY time he gets shoved out of the way, if you watch closely, is when he has absolutely no chance at the rebound to begin with.

The loose ball flop is a great maneuver because it has almost zero risk.  The traditional flop, while playing on-the-ball defense, is a dicey proposition - you could get called for a foul yourself, and even on the no call you've basically given up a layup.  But the loose ball flop, particular on your own offensive glass, is all upside.  You've already lost the rebound, there's no way you get called for a foul, and on the no call you've still got 96 feet to recover defensively.  And if it works, you've won an extra possession for your team and a personal foul on your opponent.

Howard's fourth foul on Sunday was on a Ben Wallace loose ball flop special.  I went back on the DVR and watched it several times, it was so beautiful.  Howard's left arm was barely resting on Wallace - as the ball sailed over Ben's head, suddenly he flew off the court, as if shot out of a cannon.  I realize that Howard is Superman, but COME ON!  Ben also coaxed a T out of Dwight with his little act.  By the way, there were five loose ball fouls called in the entire game on Sunday - Ben drew three of them, in 15 minutes of play.  The guy's good - too good.

Foul trouble limited Howard to 28 minutes in the game.  Taking a first team All NBA center off the court is a massive accomplishment, and Ben might have been the player of the game for Cleveland except for one thing: Marcin Gortat is almost as good as Dwight Howard.