Yes, this postseason has showcased the beauty of basketball. The upstarts, upsets and dominance. But it has also been marred by players of all stripes — ahem, Malik Monk, the sixth man for the Sacramento Kings — falling and flailing as if stung by a cattle prod.
"NBA floppers are almost always overacting," said Anthony Gilardi, a Hollywood acting coach. "You watch these guys with their pratfalls and their on-court stunts, and it's so over-the-top cringeworthy as to be hilarious."
I asked Gilardi to watch video clips of sham playoff tumbles and offer an assessment. He had seen most of the plays and knew the subject well. He's a Celtics fan who has seen all of Marcus Smart's greatest flops.
There's a vast difference, Gilardi said, between players reacting to contact in a way that creates an illusion that a foul has occurred and being so obvious that every fan in the arena can tell the reaction is fake. It is the difference between what we see from an Oscar nominee and an actor on a run-of-the-mill soap opera.
"In soap operas, it's often the case you can absolutely tell they are acting," he said, emphasizing the word the way Heat guard Max Strus would a shoulder bump. "There's not enough subtlety to create the illusion."
The flop, part acting and part competition, is now baked into the NBA. It shows off athleticism and skill, a deep thirst for winning as well as showmanship — attributes that define the league. It's all part of the spectacle.
So why not have some fun with it? Maybe, instead of resisting and demonizing the flop, we should embrace it — but demand better acting.
With the dominant way Jokic has been playing to get his team to the franchise's first N.B.A. finals, the concept of stopping him seems like pure theater.
The Esports World Is Starting to Teeter 玩不下去的電競美國夢
Six years ago, the Madison Square Garden Co., a group that includes James Dolan, owner of the New York Knicks and the New York Rangers, announced a triumphant entrance into sports' next frontier: a professional video game league.
The New York investors spent more than $10 million to purchase a majority stake in Counter Logic Gaming, an esports team, and said that professional video gaming "now stands on the verge of enormous change, which we believe has the potential to generate significant growth."
Instead, that growth has stagnated. As esports revenue fell below expectations and investors became skeptical of the industry, Madison Square Garden's owners last year tried to find a way out of the business by selling their marquee team.
After years of fanfare, esports in the United States are giving way to economic realities. Unable to turn a profit, team owners are cutting costs by laying off employees and ending contracts with star players. In some cases, they are selling their teams and sometimes at a loss, offering a blunt reality check to people who believed esports could be the next big thing in entertainment.
Most alarming, some viewers seem to be losing interest. They watched 14.8 million hours of the 2023 spring season of the League Championships Series, the biggest U.S. esports league, down 13% from a year earlier and down 32% from 2021, according to estimates from the data firm Esports Charts.
Star esports players can earn seven-figure salaries and compete for championships. Investors over the past decade purchased stakes in teams that participate in professional leagues for games including League of Legends, Overwatch and Call of Duty.
The biggest of those is the League Championship Series, a 10-team league established in 2013 and run by Riot Games, the company that created League of Legends. In the league, teams go head-to-head in League of Legends, a fantasy-themed game, in matches that can draw millions of viewers and fill stadiums.
But the leagues have struggled to make money. Partnerships to broadcast esports tournaments on sites such as YouTube and Twitch have dissipated, sponsors are slashing their advertising budgets, and owners are operating teams at a loss while paying huge salaries to esports players.