injury fakery
I'm not saying Pierce faked an injury in the 2008 NBA Finals. This was the
first image that came up when I searched for "fake injury." Seriously.

injury fakery (in'-juh-re fak'-uh-re) noun. When a pickup basketball player pretends to be injured in order to gain a temporary advantage.

Usage example: A minute ago, that guy was limping around like his leg was gonna fall off. Then all of a sudden he sprinted downcourt at top speed. That was some serious injury fakery right there.

Word trivia: Injury fakery happens alarmingly often in pickup basketball, which is pretty funny because most pickup ballers consider themselves reasonably tough...and many of them display characteristics associated with alpha male syndrome. Maybe it's just me, but pretending you have a booboo doesn't seem very alpha male to me.

The main reasons a player will fake an injury are:

1. To sell a foul: Leading basketball scientists estimate that nearly 80 percent of the fouls called during a typical pickup game are either partially or completely bogus. And some people think that's a conservative estimate. Makeup calls, karma calls, embarrassment calls and just a plain lack of integrity can lead to ridiculous fouls that leave some people scratching their heads and others fantasizing about a brutal and bloody homicide. However, savvy players (read that: shameless fakers) have discovered that fabricating an injury is the best way to sell a weak (or even nonexistent) foul.

After all, if a man screams out in pain, drops to the floor like a stone while clutching his knee/ankle/whatever, or grabs his face like he was bitchslapped by the Hulk, then it stands to reason he MUST have been fouled...and fouled hard. In many cases, there may be some grumbling or a few hushed whispers suggesting injury fakery, but most players will leave the situation alone or even show concern (or at least feign it). To question an injury isn't only an accusation against the "injured" player, it's an indictment of human nature. Because people are better than that, right? (Click here.)

Plus, a lot of pickup ballers secretly fear that if they accuse another player of faking an injury, they might face the same accusation the next time they get injured...and their next injury might even be real.

2. To trick the player he's matched up with: The best way to succeed in basketball is to exploit mismatches. That's just Common Sense 101. When I'm being guarded by a smaller player, I immediately try to post him up. When I'm defended by a slower player, I drive at every opportunity. And when the man I'm matched up against is hurt, I try to use that to my advantage. Conversely, I assume that an injured player will be limited (at best) or a non-factor (at worst) on offense because of his impairment.

And that's exactly what an injury faker wants his opponent to think.

For instance, a pickup baller might think that he can casually job back on defense because his man has a gimpy knee. This might be done out of laziness or sympathy for the "injured" player (because some pickup ballers actually try to avoid embarrassing their opponents). That's when the faker will strike, abandoning his exaggerated limp and rocketing downcourt for an easy layup. Mind you, this tactic will only work once or twice, but one or two baskets can decide a game.

The same thing can happen when a pickup baller is trying to score. He may assume that his defender won't be able to challenge his shot due to the ankle injury he suffered two possessions ago. Surprise! That hurt player just skyed up for an atom smasher.

3. To trick his teammates: Sometimes (or even most of the time), a pickup baller will be matched up against someone who is better than he is. Maybe much better. It's just one of the unfortunate breaks of the game. And when it happens, the lesser player is probably in for a long and humiliating night. However, that humiliation can be reduced (maybe even to nil) if the lesser player pretends to be hurt. See, that gives him an excuse for getting scored on repeatedly or having his shots routinely fed back to him, Wilsonburger-style. "I just can't stay with him guys," a breathless baller might tell his teammates. "It's this bum ankle. I can hardly move."

Sadly, this doesn't only happen in the face of superior competition. In some cases, the faker might simply be a lazy or careless defender. Instead of digging in and trying to shut down his man, it's easier to just pretend that expending the necessary effort is physically impossible.

Of course, injury fakery might also be used after missing an open or easy shot. For instance, a player might chuck up a 25-foot airball and then grab his hand or arm as if the miss was the result of some painful arm cramp instead of terrible shot selection.

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Blogger chiptooth said...
I say Bawful, have you heard about the so-named Bloodgate affair? No? Oh my, you're just an internet search away from a scandalous tale of fake blood, a national hero turned bullying coach, a shattered Hippocratic oath, buck-passery, blackmail and lies, damned lies, and then more sneaky lies.

It's rugby, sadly, not basketball, but it's injury fakery at its most devious, and - some would say - its worst.

If you're interested, search for: Harlequins, Bloodgate, Rugby, Dean Richards for the full story.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
I fake injury so other players don't know how out of shape I am. It totally works too.

Blogger AnacondaHL said...
I disagree. I think this is completely in line with alpha-male behavior. Overflowing pride, lying, and cheating, doing "anything it takes to win" seems right in line.

And to open the scope, lets not forget that basketball isn't the only time this happens. (0 points if you link a soccer video, that's just not fair).

Anonymous Anonymous said...
DTR, was also going to mention that! not just fakery, blatant cheating.

Blogger senormedia said...
I'd like to see Basketbawful address the "hand is part of the ball" call. That's a sorely-misunderstood rule.

Blogger Cortez said...
"I'd like to see Basketbawful address the "hand is part of the ball" call."

I'd like to see what you think that means also.

Blogger Wild Yams said...
Pierce was absolutely faking that injury. It wasn't even close. He gets scored on and subsequently goes down in a heap, then the guy gets carried off the floor in a wheelchair and less than 3 minutes later runs back out there (with the theme from Rocky playing, no less) and has a phenomenal game. He then plays well enough in the ensuing games to win Finals MVP. He stole that act from Dwyane Wade, right down to the wheelchair. The ol "I'm hurt, so what I did was truly heroic" routine. Cheap theatrics. Sort of ironic for a guy who's nickname is "The Truth".

Blogger Bakes said...
@ Yams

Seriously, I almost got sick watching that display. He's clutching his knee, he's biting his knuckle in a futile attempt to ward off the terrible pain! He's writhing and crying and covering his face in shame at the overflowing emotion that has welled up because of physical pain and also the pain in his *soul* that he might not finish the game! He gets carried over to a wheelchair while squirming and weeping and then disappears.

Minutes later, he comes skipping back out (literally) with no more than a knee brace on (might as well have been a band-aid), comes back in, and drills a three. He's miraculously healed for the rest of the game. Boston must have had Jesus on their med staff. This moment alone was enough to turn my indifference into my furious eternal burning hatred for Paul Pierce. While I hate the Celtics as a Laker fan, there are still some players on the team I can respect. Hell, I even like Doc Rivers. In general, Boston is the nemesis, but not all its players earn my locational wrath.

Paul Pierce can go straight to hell.

Word verification: Farail, as in:
Damn man, did you see Pierce in game two? What an act, that injury could NOT have been farail!

Blogger said...
did you see this:

Blogger Caleb Smith said...
Personally, I feel pretty neutral about the Pierce thing. To me, its plausible that he felt some intense initial pain, freaked out about it... then realized it was temporary, nothing serious, and he was fine. That's not plausible? But maybe it was a fake, and considering the he loves to "act" on the court, thats very possible too. He's probably one of the worst guys when it comes to trying to sell contact.

Thats one thing I do hate about Pierce. For some reason he doesn't seem to have the flopper repuation, but he exaggerates contact *constantly* and whines about not getting calls contsantly too... even though he does get the calls as his high rate of FTAs shows.

Blogger Steve said...
Pierce did not fake the injury. That is so absurd. He had been dying to play for a legitimate contender for his whole career; the best teammates he had ever had were Antoine Walker, Ricky Davis and an over-the-hill Gary Payton. The best big men include an alcoholic Vin Baker, Mark Blount and a clueless Al Jefferson. The year before, his teammates lost 18 straight non-competitive games when he was out with a stress reaction on his foot. And after all that, he is supposed to have resorted to a what-in-the-world stunt to get his team back in a five(?) point game? Really. The Celtics had a 10.2 point differential and people think Pierce needed to try chicanery to get his teammate back into a close game? Why?

Anyway, you could clearly see how much he was effected by his knee when there wasn't two games to recover from a cross country flight that does a number on sprained tendons. He was so physically stiff during game 3 that Luke Walton blocked one of his jumpers, Vujacic bodied him up on the perimeter effectively and Jordan Farmar, who comes from the Steve Nash school of perimeter defense, took a charge on him.

Anway, the Lakers have no reason to whine. They had all the luck on their side, with Pierce having a balky knee, Rondo and Perkins spraining their ankles and they still gave away a 24 point lead and got shellacked in game 6. They should just live with it. They should just live with the fact that in games 5-6, Kobe scored like ten points combined in quarters 2-4. That's how much he was shut down or as he says, "missed bunnies."

Blogger Wild Yams said...
Steve - The "why" is because Pierce had just been scored on, so he faked the injury to protect his bruised ego. Also, what does it matter how many bad teams he was on? The guy didn't sit out for a quarter or half or something, he was gone for less than two minutes of game time with his "injury". Unless Mr. Miyagi was back there in the dressing room, or the Celtics were keeping a faith healer on staff ("get up out of that wheelchair and walk! Demons out!"), then Pierce was faking his injury. Because he simply had one bad game two games later doesn't mean anything. Like I said above, the guy played well enough to win the Finals MVP trophy. He was faking, end of story.

Pierce's fakery doesn't in any way let the Lakers off the hook though. You're right about how they blew that 24 point lead in Game 4 and apparently never made the trip back to Boston for Game 6. This isn't about whining from Laker fans, this is just about pointing out one of the most famous fake injuries seen in recent sports memory. Trust me, there isn't much Laker fans have to whine about right now :)

Anonymous Anonymous said...
@ Steve

I wouldn't even say the Lakers had luck in that series. Game 2 ref'ing was so lopsided, even Bill Simmons thought the ref's gave that game to the C's. Hell Leon Powe had more foul shots than the entire Lakers team. I'm not saying the Lakers would have won the series, but the series should have gone 7 games.

Blogger Wild Yams said...
As a Laker fan let me say this: the Celtics were IMO definitively the better team that year and in that series. I thought that before the playoffs started and before the series started. A bunch of idiot writers seemed to think LA was suddenly this super amazing team, but I always thought they were the underdogs in that series. Game 6 to me proved how vast the gulf was between the two teams. The Lakers didn't get robbed of anything in that Finals series in June of 08.

But that still doesn't change the fact that Paul Pierce faked that injury.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
You must be using bing. PP doesn't show up on the first PAGE of fake injury images w google.
Wade Word

Blogger Beez Kneezy said...
Assuming Paul was injured, why didn't he just suck it up and at least hop off the court on one leg while his teammates propped him up? What an embarassing way to be carried off the court...

Blogger Steve said...
Wild Yams, you might be on to something because frankly, I have never ever seen someone score on Pierce before. The shock of that happening for the first time, in the finals no less, must have sent him into temporary convulsive shock.

Anyway, the point of a wheelchair is to help move someone who is hurt. There is no wimpiness or manliness involved. Wheelchairs are there to be used, as are teammates who can carry them. Pierce was in a lot of pain, so why should he have toughed his way into the tunnel? There was actually a purpose for the wheelchair and teammates carrying: to get him to an exam room as quick as possible to diagnose his injury.

If anyone is talking about toughness, what the heck was the Lakers excuse during game 6 or game 4? They have hung over their heads the biggest lost lead in finals history and the biggest whooping in an elimination loss.

Blogger Basketbawful said...
For the record, and I was very serious about this, I don't think Pierce was faking his injury. I mean, it's possible, of course, but to me it seemed like he heard a pop, felt a twing and just panicked. I've seen that sort of thing happen on the pickup court many, many times. Hell, it's happened to me...where you think you've done something horrible to your body and you freak out.

I think Pierce thought he was done and saw what might have been his one chance to win it all slipping away. IMHO.

Blogger Wild Yams said...
Steve, nobody's talking about "toughness". I never claimed Pierce sustained a minor injury and wussed out by calling for the wheelchair. I said he faked the injury, and the rest was just theatrics. I know you want to derail this into talking about how the Lakers shit the bed and all that, but I won't debate you on that (cause I don't disagree). But this isn't about how one team sucked, it's about faking injuries, and believe me there's a reason Pierce was the top result from whatever Mr. Bawful's search was. Do a similar search on YouTube and you'll find a multitude of videos about it. He faked it cause he wants the hero worship, and he made sure he didn't hurt his team by sitting out for a long time in the process (though it resulted in making his performance less credible). Pierce isn't even original, Dwyane Wade's been doing this same shtick for years.

Anonymous ak dave said...
Basketbawful, you're such a biased, one-sided, unfair Celtics h8r. Do some research, and yull c Pierce was hurt 4 reels.

You're total garbage and your blog sux

PS- I miss you. I know things have been rough lately... Call me?

PPS- kobe rulz lol

with everlasting love and devotion-

AK Dave

Anonymous Anonymous said...
That's bullshit. Don't even get me started on that.

He thought it popped, the team doctors forced him in a wheel chair, he got up when he was in the locker room and realized he could still play, and he got back on the court. He was on the biggest stage of his life. Everyone acts like he just was better all of a sudden like nothing happened. He struggled staying in front of his man a bit and stayed outside the whole game.

Do notice when he came back he only shot 3s and never drove in once?

How about Mr NBA Lebron James? Against Boston, he goes down with an ankle injury slamming the ground like he's gonna die, comes back 5 minutes later doing spin moves and throwing down on people....

And where does this link show up on the front page? definitely not in a google search...

Anonymous Shelb said...
Mmmm... how has Vince Carter not come up in neither the comments nor the original story?