Redskins

Let the flop policing begin

Let the flop policing begin

It's not just the flopping that the NBA is trying to squash.

It's Reggie Evans looking like he was zapped by about 10,000 volts of electricity when Memphis guard Tony Allen's arm hit him while Evans - yes, Evans - was setting a screen.

It's Dwyane Wade trying to trick the referees by flinging his leg out on a jumpshot and falling to the ground when it makes contact with Celtics guard Mikael Pietrus.

It's Danilo Gallinari ``flailing'' and holding his face in a soccer-style, ``gross over-embellishment'' - the league's own words - after running into a screen by the Lakers' Pau Gasol.

Those were some of the examples the NBA used in a video sent to players and teams describing what exactly will be subject to fines this season in the first year of a new program aimed at curbing the kind of deceptive, and sometimes downright laughable, acting jobs that made Ray Allen's performance in ``He Got Game'' appear Oscar-worthy.

And the video didn't even include the hilarious attempted double dupe from Oklahoma City's James Harden and San Antonio's Manu Ginobili on the same play in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals last season.

Floppers beware. The league is coming for you, and your money, this season.

The NBA season begins on Tuesday with three games - Washington at Cleveland, Boston at Miami and Dallas at the Los Angeles Lakers - and for the first time, the players will face the possibility of stiff punishment for trying to trick the referees into a foul that wasn't warranted. Commissioner David Stern issued an edict that he hopes will make flopping go the way of the four-corner offense and the short shorts.

The tactic has been prevalent for years - Pacers sharpshooter Reggie Miller and Kings center Vlade Divac were among the more creative floppers of the previous generation - as players looked for any edge they could get to swing the outcome in their favor. At full speed and with bodies everywhere, determining which players were flopping and which were making good basketball plays in the blink of an eye proved to be incredibly difficult for referees.

The league is trying to give them some help.

Officials will monitor games and review plays that could have included an egregious flop after the game is over. Everyone gets one warning, but after that, the bills start piling up. The second offense will cost a player $5,000, a third will go to $10,000. Four flops and it's $15,000 and a fifth will be a whopping $30,000.

``I hope that they give the offensive floppers the same amount of time and dedication that they're going to to the defensive floppers,'' said Heat forward Shane Battier, who has been accused of flopping ever since his days at Duke at the turn of the century. ``Because flopping's a problem. Flopping is a silent killer. It really is a silent killer. It'll be interesting to see how they administer that.''

Some think it's been a long time coming. Miller pioneered the move that Wade used in that video, kicking his leg out as he released his jumper to draw contact and try to force a call from an official. Paul Pierce has attempted over 8,500 free throws in his career thanks in part to coercing officials into blowing a whistle as he drives to the basket. And Divac nearly led the Kings to an upset of the Lakers while hitting the deck every time Shaquille O'Neal even brushed against him in the paint.

``Back in the '80s, they didn't flop,'' said the Lakers' Metta World Peace. ``Flopping is very stupid. It's not even basketball. I don't know who taught people to flop. It's ridiculous. Just make the right call. But it's not my league. I think it looks bad on TV, too. When you're in the playoffs and somebody flops, and there's all this money on the line, it's terrible.''

While many players, coaches and fans have come out as vocal proponents of the new measures, it's still unclear how the process will work.

Which flops will be deemed worthy of punishment and which will be allowed to slide? Which types of flops will draw the most attention? Trying to draw charges on defense? Embellishing in hopes of getting to the free throw line on offense?

Everyone is about to start finding out.

``My fear is that they're going to find some fresh Harvard Business School intern in the league office to be the flop reviewer - flop czar, the flop czar! - fresh out of the HBS and his or her highest level of basketball probably will be intramural,'' Battier said. ``And they're making some potentially lucrative financial decisions. So I don't know. I don't know how they're going to administer it.''

The system will likely evolve as the season goes on, and players will adjust. But it will take some time.

``It'll mess up a lot of people's games,'' Kings big man DeMarcus Cousins said. ``Maybe some of these All-Stars won't be All-Stars after that.''

It certainly is a label that applies to some of the game's biggest stars, including a few on the Heat as they marched to the championship last season.

``I don't know how they're going to gauge what's a flop and what's not a flop,'' LeBron James said. ``Sometimes it's obvious, but it doesn't change my approach, honestly. I think it'll be good in the paint, though. When you're posting guys up and guys know they're smaller than you, they just take one bump and they already know before you even touch them the next time that they're going to automatically fall.''

With all this in mind, here are a few candidates who may have a little flop sweat, so to speak, as they prepare to play under these new guidelines:

-Anderson Varejao, F/C, Cavaliers: The big Brazilian has long been one of the league's most prolific floppers, letting loose with loud screams each time he's hit and falls to the floor. ``I'm not flopping anymore,'' Varejao said with a smile on media day. ``I used to flop a little bit.''

-Harden, G, Rockets: Whether he was snapping his head back while hitting a screen on defense or flying to the deck on a drive to the basket on offense, the savvy Harden has quickly gained a reputation for flopping. Now that he'll be getting more minutes as a starter in Houston, will that equate to more flops? ``It was bound to happen at some point,'' he said. ``Obviously, the league got fed up with it and they put it in. I'm happy they did.''

-Ginobili, G, Spurs: The Argentinian's roots in that soccer-mad country can be seen in his approach on the court, where the lefty flops every chance he can get.

-JJ Barea, G, Timberwolves: The diminutive spark plug has had to use any means necessary to succeed against bigger competition, and he knows that ``absolutely'' people across the league consider him a flopper. ``''I'm going to play the same way since I was a kid, so whatever happens, happens,'' he said.

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AP Sports Writers Tim Reynolds in Miami, Greg Beacham in Los Angeles, Antonio Gonzalez in Sacramento, Calif., Tom Withers in Cleveland and Jeff Latzke in Oklahoma City contributed to this report.

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Reflections on Rich Tandler and a life well lived

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NBC Sports Washington

Reflections on Rich Tandler and a life well lived

I haven’t felt this way since my father passed last April. I’m not comparing the two, at all, but there were some similarities.

Rich Tandler had life experience. Few people accomplish what he did; total life reinvention. 

Think about that. 

After raising his two successful children and a lifetime in the restaurant business, Tandler created a blog. That blog became big enough to eventually become a full-time job, and over time, put him on television and send him all over the world. 

That’s wild. 

We get so caught up in the “startups” and “disruptors” from Silicon Valley that we missed a true internet success story in Rich Tandler. Our world has become extra cynical. The loudest snark wins, especially on the internet. 

Tandler didn’t trade in those currencies. 

He provided good, quality information. He provided insight and analysis from six decades of obsessing over a football team. 

And fans loved him for it. 

The outpouring from folks that read "Need to Know" or listened to the podcast has been incredible. I’ve been flooded with messages from people, and one overwhelming response is that while they didn’t really know Tandler, they feel like they did.

Well, I was lucky to know him pretty well. And his persona on air was the same way off air. 

Tandler helped me a in a lot of ways. I can be impulsive and have a temper, Tandler would calm me down. Whenever I had something important to say, news to break or a sharp angle of criticism, I would run it by Tandler first. Sometimes, maybe often, I would say too much, and he would reign me in. 

Tandler loved pointing out mistakes. If the universe gave honorary degrees for pointing out minor math errors in salary cap blog posts, Tandler would have a Ph.D. 

He was smart and he was sharp. Good natured but feisty. 

He could dish it out plenty in a media room full of alphas. And he literally dished it out; Tandler controlled all the plastic utensils and paper plates that every media member used at Redskins Park. When we were running low on forks, Tandler would put out some not too subtle calls to action. 

I think for a while he considered the podcast an annoyance, but somewhere along the way, we had a breakthrough. He realized its potential, and everywhere we went, listeners came up and told us how much they enjoyed it. 

That made an impact on RT. And seemingly overnight, he was all in. That’s when things really started to gain steam. Wherever I am in my career, Tandler played a huge role in it. 

But that kind of doesn’t matter now. We will keep the pod going but it will never be the same. Not better, not worse, but way, way different. Same thing with writing and TV. The show will go on, but it won't be the same. It will never be the same. 

In the hours since I learned of Tandler’s passing, I’ve done some reading. I drank a bunch. And I ended up landing on some YouTube videos. 

The one I kept going back to was Jimmy V’s famous ESPY speech. Before he died, Jimmy V implored us all to think, laugh and cry every day, and that would lead to a good, full life. 

If there was ever a dude that laughed, it was Rich Tandler. 

His belly laugh was contagious, and his wit was superior. There were the wacky Tandler’s Got Jokes, and the sly one liners about players, plays and our road antics. 

It wasn’t all laughter either. Tandler was smart as hell, and he was always thinking about new ways to present content for Redskins fans. 

Seriously, our organization employs an army of young and talented digital-first thinkers. And Tandler generated more web traffic than all of them. He constantly tried to figure out why people would read something, or the optimal time for us to drop a new podcast. 

Where I’m an idea guy, Tandler was all execution. I’m a terrible planner and constantly late. Tandler would be on time and busting my chops about our lack of schedule. It’s just how we operated. 

As for crying, Tandler didn't do it much. I did see him tear up from laughing a few times, and once because it was real windy when we were taping a segment and something got in his eye. 

I’m not much of a crier either. I’m glad that Jimmy V was, but it’s just not me. 

Thinking about Tandler though in the last 36 hours, there have been some truly hard moments. He was kind and gracious. A true gentleman. 

He never took personal shots at the team we cover, or their front office. Plenty do. He would certainly say when things were bad, and say it loudly. He was binary in a world full of context. 

He was a good dude. He was my coworker, my partner and my friend. 

And damn if it isn’t getting dusty in here all of a sudden. 

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Three things to watch for Wizards' regular season opener against the Heat

Three things to watch for Wizards' regular season opener against the Heat

The Washington Wizards open their regular season on Thursday night against the Miami Heat. Tipoff is at 8 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington. 

Here are three things to watch...

Will Howard play?

Just one week ago, it would have seemed near impossible that Dwight Howard, the Wizards' biggest offseason acquisition, would be ready to play in the season opener, but after three solid days of practice, it can't be ruled out. The Wizards plan to evaluate him throughout the day on Thursday to determine if he can take the court in what would be his first live game action with his new team.

Howard, 32, missed the entire preseason and nearly all of their practices leading up to the opener with a strained piriformis muscle. Though reports have been encouraging from his three practices, he is not yet in game shape. Even if he can play, expect him to be limited. If he can't play, Ian Mahinmi will get the start.

Heat are banged up

Miami is not only coming off a game the night before, as they lost in their season opener to the Orlando Magic, but they are missing some key guys. Dion Waiters, James Johnson, Wayne Ellington and Justise Winslow are out due to injuries.

That will leave Miami perilously thin at the guard and small forward position. That happens to be an area of the roster where the Wizards are especially deep, now with Austin Rivers as the backup shooting guard behind Bradley Beal and with first round pick Troy Brown Jr. behind Otto Porter Jr. and Kelly Oubre Jr.

That said, Waiters and Ellington being out means Dwyane Wade may get more run and, as we saw in the preseason, he is still very hard to stop. He is capable of a big night, especially given it's so early in the year and he doesn't yet have the wear-and-tear of a long season.

Can Beal reach the next level?

One of the most important indicators of how much better the Wizards will be this season is the continued improvement of their young players. John Wall, Porter and Oubre are included in that and particularly Oubre, who is entering an important season in the final year of his contract.

But the guy who improved more than anyone last year and has a chance to take another big leap this season is Beal. Now with one All-Star nod under his belt, what does he have for an encore? 

If Beal can get his scoring average up even higher from the 22.6 he put up last season, he could enter the All-NBA conversation. And he now has more help than ever with Rivers behind him. Beal should, in theory, be more fresh each night with Rivers taking away some of his workload. 

The Heat offer a good matchup defensively for Beal with Josh Richardson. He is one of the more underrated players in basketball and is a menace on the perimeter.

"I've been a fan of his since I played him in college at Tennessee," Beal said. "He's always been a pest. He's super athletic, sneaky athletic. And I feel like he developed his shot to where you have to respect it. If you go under [on screens], he's shooting it."

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