“Some, like Cleveland Cavaliers forward Anderson Varejao, have turned the process (of taking a charge) into a floppy-haired art form,” writes the Sun-Sentinel’s Ira Winderman, “even as opponents exit muttering something along the lines of flop goes the weasel.” While the Magic’s slap-happy Rafer Alston defers to others with floppier skills (“either you’re a charge-taker or you’re not”), teammate Michael Pietrus is willing, though not not necessarily happy, to take one for the team.
“It’s just instinctive,” the defensive-minded swingman says, “because you want to make the best play defensively for your team, and obviously taking a charge means a lot to your teammates, it means a lot to the team, because you’re ready to sacrifice your body to win. It’s something that can be fun, but at the same time cannot be fun.”
Sometimes, Pietrus says, the not-fun part quickly becomes apparent.
“Yeah, some of them hurt a lot,” he says. “I don’t really remember who I’ve taken charges on. But on Yao Ming and Amare Stoudemire, it felt good for the rest of my teammates. But for me? It felt like I needed a massage the next day.”
A native of Guadeloupe and four-year pro in France before coming to the NBA in 2003, Pietrus says, “basically all the European players who come into the NBA know how to take a charge and know how to flop, too. Basically they teach us to practice charges in Europe.”
“Selling the charge is moving your feet and right before the actual blow gets there, go ahead and fall back,” Dallas Mavericks guard Jason Terry says unapologetically. ” Shaq‘s one that you might want to fall down before the contact. Because if you get hit by Shaq, then you’ll probably be out for the next couple of games. Keeping that in mind, you definitely want to flop. Flopping is the art of the charge, also.”
Former Utah Jazz forward Karl Malone was notorious for coming in knees high. Want to flop? Fine, but pay the price.
“You’re talking to the number-one guy in the league right now,” Terry says. “I’ve dunked on more centers than probably any guard under 6-2 in the history of the game, by putting a knee in their chest, using it as a springboard and dunking it.”
Of course, there’s even an art to handling that.
“You just kind of exhale as they hit you, so they won’t knock the wind out of you, just exhale and fall with it,” Miami Heat power forward Udonis Haslem says. “Sometimes, the landing is worse than the hit.”