Players go overboard when they serve whine with flops

Jun 5 2013 - 3:07pm


Not counting their mothers -- and in some cases their children, spouses and family pets -- nobody likes a ref.

It's an unfortunate fact of life, like getting too much bran and not enough raisins in your morning cereal.

Oh sure, folks sometimes speak sympathetically of those who officiate our favorite sports, earnestly noting how the size and speed of modern athletes make it impossible to get every call correct. But let's not kid ourselves, the men and women who make those calls -- correct or not -- are destined to hit 50 percent with each decision.

It's simply impossible to please everybody, every time.

I'm reminded of the moment several years ago when I was covering a baseball game down at BYU. The ump behind the plate sent an unsuspecting Cougar back to the dugout with a called third strike, thus ending the inning.

Obviously unhappy with the call, an older fellow in the stands barked out, "C'mon ump, who's side are you on?"

I bring up officiating today, not to give refs a warm, written hug -- or even to give them their due, necessarily -- but to point out the hypocrisy of those athletes who deride officials for missing calls while openly trying to deceive them.

In other words, Dear NBA Superstars: If you're going to keep flopping, at least stop talking.

I'm looking at you, LeBron James.

You too, Tim Duncan.

Now that we know James' Miami Heat will meet Duncan's San Antonio Spurs in the upcoming NBA Finals, we ought to have a pretty good idea of what we're in for. Each team with come with a unique style and a different approach. The Heat figure to be a little more acrobatic; the Spurs will be more deliberate and more physical.

And, of course, guys on both sides will whine like week-old puppies almost every trip down the court.

James and Duncan get mentioned here because, let's face it, they're two of the NBA's biggest whiners. We all know what they look like, we just don't remember what they look like without a furrowed brow and wild-eyed look of amazement following even the most mundane rules violations.

With all the gyrating, arm-flapping and painful expressions, one can't help but wonder if the folks over at "Dancing With The Stars" aren't somewhere talking notes.

Look, I know refs makes mistakes ... in all sports, at all levels. And they shouldn't be immune from criticism, especially in those cases when egotism gets in the way of professionalism.

* It's maddening to see a baseball umpire operate under the narcissistic assumption we've all come to the ballpark to watch him call the game.

* It's infuriating when that same ump makes a borderline third-strike call on a batter, just because he wants to teach him a lesson.

* It's terribly frustrating to see a football ref miss a holding call right in front of him, and yet somehow throw a flag on a pass interference play 25 yards away.

* And seeing an NBA ref hand out "superstar" calls based not on the rule book but on a player's popularity is enough to send a fan over the edge.

Of course none of that is any more ridiculous than the superstar whose on-the-court histrionics looks like he's re-enacting a scene from Macbeth.

And speaking of great performances ...

Enough with the flopping; enough with flailing about the court after getting brushed against by an opponent, all in the hopes of drawing a charging call.

Players who do this -- and there are plenty of them -- often respond that what they're doing is part of the game. A little acting, they say, forces the officials to make a call one way or the other.

As a sports fan, I suppose I can live with the deception, as unseemly as it is. What bothers me, however, is the whining afterward.

Perhaps I'm being unfairly reasonable, but it seems kind of silly to openly deceive a ref by flopping, only to continue the charade by sulking around the court when he doesn't make the right call.

Jim Burton is the Standard-Examiner's sports columnist. He can be reached at 801-625-4265 or at He tweets at


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