Just like postgame fashion last year, flopping has become the most important story of the NBA playoffs. It’s become such a big story, in fact, that one national columnist even suggested that a 3-on-3 game featuring Juwan Howard and James Jones was the best game he’d seen during the entire postseason. That literally happened.
When you hear about flopping so much, it makes you think of all the times you’ve heard about flopping. For me anyways. And while I thought I couldn’t care less about the drama surrounding flopping since it’s something that happens a handful of times per game and usually ends with the flopee being ridiculed on Twitter, everything changed when I accidentally unearted a deep-seated memory that I thought I’d buried a long time ago.
I, Trey Kerby, flopped once. I’m ashamed to admit it, but it’s true.
Let’s go back to 1996, when I was just a seventh grader on the B-team for the Plano Middle School Tigers. I was 12 years old and hadn’t hit the growth spurt that would turn me in to the giant I am today. No, I was just a chubby kid who hadn’t even touched the rim yet, which was kind of a bummer since that was the coolest thing in to do back in those days. As you might surmise from the B-team designation, I wasn’t that great at basketball, though I’d like to state for the record that I was probably one of the five best kids on the worse of the two teams in my tiny, tiny middle school.
Being not good, I had to do something to get on the court. And since my dad taught me that defense was important, I started there. But that wasn’t all he taught me. No, my dad also taught me all about taking charges, how they can be better than a block because your team gets possession no matter what, and that it’s easy for anyone to learn because all you have to do is get hit and fall down. And considering I couldn’t jump or run, that seemed like a valuable skill to learn.
So I learned about charges, as much as you can anyhow. Like I said, it’s pretty much just getting hit and falling down. Even back then, charges happened. I don’t know why I’m spending so many words explaining this, but taking a charge is easy. You literally just have to stand there, especially when you’re in seventh grade.
At this point, I should also mention that middle school basketball coaches love it when you take charges. Nothing gets a science teacher more excited than a kid who is willing to get rammed in the chest and hit the deck. It’s like getting an A+ in basketball. Needless to say, I started taking charges.
Well, kind of. You are not going to believe this, but playing against teams like the Newark Norseman and Indian Creek Timberwolves doesn’t lead to a bunch of athletic plays in the lane where it’s easy to take charges. Thinking back now, I’m not even positive that I ever took a single charge during a game in my entire middle school career. Between me not moving fast enough to beat people to spots and opponents not moving fast enough to spots for me to beat them to, taking charges was tough. You really had to search out opportunities to let a mustachioed 13-year-old run you over.
Nonetheless, I still tried to take charges in practice when I could, telling myself that I’d be ready should a game opportunity ever present itself. And the one time it did, I blew it.
It happened against some team I can’t remember. Could have been the Sandwich Indians. Could have been the Earlville Raiders. It could have even been against the Somonauk Bobcats. All I remember now is what happened.
As most plays are when kids suck at basketball, it was during a transition play. I don’t exactly recall what transpired before that fateful moment, but I do know the other team was coming at our basket and I was basically in the halfcourt circle. As any coach will tell you, you get the ball in the middle on the fast break, and as anyone who has seen a basketball will tell you, the halfcourt circle is in the middle of the basketball court. It was a perfect storm of charge-taking possibility, and I was jacked to finally make my dad proud. So I started leaning backwards, just a little bit. I saw this kid coming at me and just knew I was taking that charge. It was just a matter of getting hit and falling down, and I was already taking care of my half of the equation.
Of course, that kid saw me as well and decided that it would probably be a better idea to avoid me since running in to other people is something that’s generally always avoided. But since I was already falling, I had to do something. That something, I guess, was modifying my fall so that his leg would clip mine which would make us both fall over, which would make for a charge, which would make me look great.
So I turned my straight back lean in to a back-and-to-the-left lean, and everything worked out perfectly. Sort of. We did hit legs, I did fall, he did fall, a whistle was blown … but ummm, well, you’ve seen the title of this post. I flopped. It was horrible, like bad enough that I would remember it 17 years later. Not only had I basically tripped this kid as he was dribbling up the court, I had also done so while I myself was falling down. It was not my greatest moment on the basketball court.
I got called for a block, duh, and the ref actually told me that if I did that again he’d give me a technical. Thinking back now, I wonder if that referee was David Stern. Probably not, but I wouldn’t rule it out. The deterrent worked though. Being scolded in public as a 12-year-old is enough to make you want to learn how to actually take charges, rather than get fallen on. By the time I got to high school, I was good enough at it that I took two in a half a couple of times, which might be the worst humblebrag in the history of the world. I’m just glad I learned before the advent of YouTube, otherwise my name and a video of the flop would have been broadcast in to millions of homes and I wouldn’t have been able to leave my house, much like the NBA floppers who are being fined the equivalent of $12 for their transgressions.
And that is the time I flopped during a seventh grade basketball game. It feels good to get this off my chest. Do you think I should have been suspended, or would a fine have sufficed?