Verajao wins my “Blanche DuBois Defender of the Year” award
In his Courtside Blog for the San Antonio Express-News, Richard Oliver cites my recent piece on the Cavs' Anderson Verajao, who's in San Antone for tonight's first game of the NBA Finals. (Scroll down Oliver's blog to the section “Flopping on the Deck.”)
As I explain in the essay,
The honor goes to the player who best exemplifies the fundamental characteristics of Ms. DuBois, the tragic figure of Tennessee Williams’ stage and screen masterpiece, “A Streetcar Named Desire”: dependence on “the kindness of strangers” and a preference for “illusion” over “realism.”
“I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.”
Blanche said it, and Verajao lives it. The strangers he depends on are the NBA’s Rules and Competition Committee (RCC), headed by Executive Vice President Stu Jackson, as well as the referees who enforce the Committee’s rules, interpretations and “points of emphasis.”
As I’ve shown in a series of articles dating back to 2001 (which I recount in this December 2006 open letter to Director of Officials Ronnie Nunn), under Jackson’s seven-year stewardship the RCC has shown ever-increasing kindness toward late-arriving or still-sliding help defenders (who will often make a late lateral slide or hop in reaction to evasive action the driver has taken to avoid the charge seeker), whistling innocent offensive players for charging as promiscuously as Blanche slept with young men after her husband’s suicide.
The preference for illusion over realism and a willingness to, as Blanche puts it, “misrepresent things,” leads into a discussion of flopping, and Verajao is on record acknowledging that he sometimes exaggerates the force of an opponent’s contact. That makes the ref’s job nearly impossible, because he has to distinguish legal “marginal contact” — a common occurrence in NBA games — from contact that merits a foul.