Much, much thanks to @blazersedge for uploading the video of what happened tonight in the Suns/Celtics game between Channing Frye and Kevin Garnett.
Did you ever play fighting video games when you were growing up? When I first got into video games, back in the Super Nintendo/Sega days, my mom didn’t want me playing Mortal Kombat, so I only had the various titles in the Street Fighter series.
I was a master of Mario, but I was never very good at fighting games. I could hold my own against the computer on normal difficulty, but my friends who were the best at those games would generally beat me. Often, they’d whittle away half of my health repeatedly using the same move – Ryu or Ken’s grapple, or repeated jump kicks. When I finally got my hands on Mortal Kombat, the same thing would happen with Liu Kang’s high and low fireballs.
I usually didn’t take this well. “Cheap!” I’d cry. “You couldn’t beat me fairly so you have to use the same cheap move!” Gamers even coined a term for it – “cheese.”
The thing that I knew – and that I didn’t want to admit – was that if I could perfect the timing, I’d do the same thing. After all, it was within the rules that the game designers installed, and it was effective. It provided a competitive advantage…a lot like flopping.
How do fans react when one of their own players flops successfully? If they don’t gloat about his “craftiness”, they’ll at least sheepishly point out that yes, he flopped, but it worked so we’ll take it! Contrast that with some of the more vehement fans when their team is on the wrong side of a flop. They’ll scream bloody murder and belittle even the best of players (see: Thunder fans reaction to Paul flopping the other night, any team that plays Manu Ginobili).
What Vince Carter did tonight in drawing a charge against Marquis Daniels with just under 6 minutes left in the fourth quarter, flying practically into the row of cameramen? That was cheap. It’s within the rules, it’s effective, yet something seems off about it. As Suns fans, though, we’ll take it.
Imagine again that you’re playing your favorite old school fighting game. You’re winning. This time, instead of trying to block your onslaught or surrendering this round and moving on to the next, your friend unplugs your controller, smacks you in the crotch with it, and proceeds to win the match.
That’s dirty. It’s completely outside of the rules of the game. It goes against the Golden Rule – Do unto others as you’d have them do unto you, unless it comes to nut shots. And it’s akin to what Kevin Garnett did in intentionally hitting Channing Frye in the groin with just four minutes left in the game.
I’ve already heard it said tonight that “anyone who’s played ball on the playground knows what Garnett did happens.” So does calling your own fouls, on the playground. These are professional athletes who constantly remind us that they’re in a business. Garnett is one player who plays the game, seemingly, most for pride and his love of it. I respect him for that. But what he did tonight was dirty, not cheap.