By Mychal Lowman
Special to Salt City Hoops
I’ve been a Jazz fan my entire life, but due to genetics I never got to pursue a professional basketball career — it’s a cruel gene that never allowed me to grow past 5’4″. So I chose a different life. One of acting. Yes I’m a theatre guy (with a degree, even). I act, direct, and write.
So for my first contribution to Salt City Hoops I’ve been asked to put my skills to use by writing a performance critique. I know what you’re thinking and, no, I’m not going to do a performance critique of Charles Barkley’s commercial work. I won’t put any of you through that kind of torture. (But did you notice that he could barely fit through the telephone booth?!)
Let’s start with the best acting performances of the past season. Mainly Flops. Flopping as an art and a stagecraft, a la Vlade Divac. It is a total acting commitment. Or as Stanislavski would say, it requires you to act as though you’re “in the moment.” I’ll be analyzing a few flops from the best Flop Artists of today: Manu Ginobli, Amar’e Stoudemire, Pau Gasol, Derek Fisher, and Paul Pierce. Then I’ll compare these flopping legends of the present to all-time Jazz great John Stockton. It is often said in NBA circles that John was quite the flopper so we’ll see if he matches up against these Flopper Extraordinaries.
The criteria will be the same things you look for in a good acting performance:
Did the player stay true to scene? From the beginning of the flop to the pleading to the referee, did he stay true to his action?
Did they sell the scene through their facial expressions and mannerisms?
Did you believe it? The first time you saw it live before the replay did you think it was an actual foul in real time before you realized it was a flop?
- Ebulliency (yes, it’s a word)
Ebullience is the quality of lively or enthusiastic expression of thoughts or feelings. Or in other words, when an actor is acting on stage he can’t be subtle with his actions. To make sure it plays to the audience that action has to be ten times bigger for it to be believable. So did the player go big? Were his physical actions dynamic?
The best actors get the best results. Awards, more jobs, more money. In this case, the best floppers get the call. They turn a casual accidental bump into a chest into a Flagrant 2.
So who is the focus of today’s Masterpiece Theater?
It’s no news that Manu is a flopper, but he needs to be first under our microscope as the poster boy for flopping in today’s league. So how does Manu stack up on our scale? His performance is evaluated based on these videos:
OSCAR!!! Now that’s a performance!
- Character – 5 stars
He committed right from the get go. You can even notice with the Bonzi “foul” he anticipated and saw that he had made Bonzi a perfect victim.
- Passion – 5 stars
Manu will always get 5 stars in this category. He is never without his customary wide-eyed look after he does or doesn’t get a call. I think Duncan teaches them.
- Credibility – 3.5 stars
Now this is where it gets hazy. Ginobili has earned a reputation as a flopper and in the 2nd clip you can see where that goes against him. The trick of flopping is to get the officials attention at the end of the call. You don’t give your Oscar winning performance when all eyes are on you to begin with on the play.
- Ebulliency – 5 stars
Manu is a guy an acting teacher loves to have in the classroom. He grew up seeing soccer players flop like fishes to the ground by tripping over a blade of grass. He goes BIG! As evidenced by the 2nd clip he’s willing to sell it. He’ll turn something out of nothing.
- Result – 4 Stars
If this was a couple years ago he’d have received a 5 but he’s earning a reputation as a flopper and as he’s becoming more of a lazy defender he relies upon his theatrics to get him out sticky situations. But he goes big at every opportunity.
- Overall – 4.5 Stars
Follow Mychal on Twitter @my_lo and send your flopping reviews to firstname.lastname@example.org. Look forward to more time inside the actors studio with @my_lo in the future.