Sometimes Ernest Hemingway stops by the BuzzFeed offices and demands that we let him weigh in on something, and we acquiesce because we don’t want to get punched. This is one of those times.
In the heat of a summer drought I walked into a San Antonio tapas restaurant. It was in Texas. It was in Spain. The place had adobe walls and cool marble benches. I sat and ordered a scotch, neat, because in the heat of a summer drought in San Antonio in Texas in Spain a scotch helps lighten the heaviness of the air. As I sipped my scotch I saw Manu Ginobili walk in and sit and cross his legs. He had a basketball ball. It was a ball made of brown leather from the hide of a young cow. That young cow was a proud good cow that had served me well during the war as my companion and mount after the death of my horse Theodore.
On warm nights sometime I still smell the scent of Theodore.
I knew that the basketball had been made from this cow because I had made it. It was my brown leather basketball that Ginobili had with him. I did not know where he had gotten it. I thought I had left that basketball in a canoe in the middle of Lake Wichitaka in northern Michigan. I approached and said, Manu, that is my basketball, and he looked and me and grinned a lopsided hyena’s smile. I felt my Colt digging into my side. Instead of drawing I tried to take the basketball. I reached out and touched the leather with both hands and took it. It was a clean good steal.
Ginobili fell. He fell to the ground in an exaggerated death tumble. I had seen men shot in the chests at the Somme who fell like that. They were good young pure men. And now Ginobili fell like them even though it was a clean steal and I hadn’t been rough. A zebra rose up from behind the counter and blew his whistle. He called continuation.
Now the NBA has said it will fine floppers. This is good. Floppers are not men and the NBA is a league of men. Alvin Gentry would not flop. George “the Iceman” Gervin never flopped when he and I boxed all comers in the sweaty Filipino spring. The Iceman carried menace in his hands like most men carry pitchers of warm beer. Ginobili is a fine player and his flops make him weak and these fines will help him crush his demons like a lion taking an antelope for his supper. There is no place for flopping in this world. David Stern will fine the floppers and then use that to buy a girl in the grim alleyways of Paris and I say good. I say good to this.
Fining is not enough. A world with flopping is a dull flimsy world and to rid ourselves of it is paramount. Floppers should be forced to dance with a bull swordless. They will use their jerseys as their capes. And then they will realize what wearing that jersey means. Unless it is a Bobcats jersey, in which case it will still not mean anything. They say flopping is an international problem but I have spent time playing the ball in the cages of Barcelona. There they play strong. They play like honest men and after they go to the cafes and drink red wine and talk of the women they once knew that left them in the night. Ricky Rubio is a beautiful boy and I have told him never flop. I told him never lay down. Sleep standing up.