The Art Of The Dive: 7 Superstar Floppers Across Sports


Origins Of The Dive

The Greek poet Homer for-told in his classic pieces of literature the birth of the first flop. As the legend goes, during the first ever pickup football game atop of Mt.Olympus the dive was born. The titan Prometheus was one on one with a defender and instead of using skill or speed to score, he instead used foresight, throwing his hands into the air as if being shot, thus gaining a free penalty kick. He unfortunately missed it and the Titans would lose, however the knowledge of this as a vital tool in sports that can ultimately decide outcomes was realized.

This artful act of the dive has been passed on through the centuries, now being used by some of the worlds greatest athletes. While yes it is easy to single out specific sports such as basketball or football, there are other offenders in sports that aren’t often associated with flopping. Here is a list of seven infamous divers across some of the worlds most popular team sports.

7). Ryan Kesler


Kesler starts out list for a number or reasons. First of all he isn’t necessarily a superstar in the NHL, and thus can’t springboard over some of the much more famous athletes on this list. Of course Kesler is no scrub, posting quite impressive numbers for the Vancouver Canucks, with a career high 41 goals in the 2010–2011 season. While it could be argued the likes of P.K Suban or even Sydney Crosby should take his place on this list, as they are much more predominant figures in their sport, Keslers antics have garnered more attention.


Ryan Kessler’s dives were quite impactful in the sense that he became a topic of concern during a rules summit held by the league in the August of 2012. He was one of three players to be singled out by league coaches, players and executives, highlighting the concern of “embellishment” (the NHL’s word of choice for a flop). When watching some of Keslers questionable acts, it is easy to see why he is often known in the hockey world to “exaggerate contact” to put it nicely.

6). Phillip Rivers


Now the NFL is not particularly know for flopping with the obvious nature of the game to hit someone at full speed, but we do see it happen on occasion. This can sometimes be after the play in rough scrums, where we see a light push turn into a sledgehammer to the chest or much more commonly, mid play. With the emphasis of protection given to offensive players, especially quarterbacks and wide receivers, we see subtle dives in hopes of moving the sticks.


One player who is usually known for his fiery personality, and who has been called out by former officials is Charger’s Star QB Philip Rivers. On a few occasions he has been caught red handed, trying his best to get a call in favour of his team. If you’ve ever heard the man mic’d up, you’re sure to have seen how his passion can sometimes get the best of him. It’s clear that for Rivers it is not necessarily a conscious decision, but one of deep passion to win. It remains to be seen if any of these incidents will amount to success, but hopefully Philip Rivers will compete for a Super Bowl before he ultimately retires.


5). Christiano Ronaldo


Sure Christiano Ronaldo has garnered the title of best player in the world, winning awards while simultaneously setting records left and right. That being said he has also been seen taking advantage of the jolly old game. Yes maybe he doesn’t have the youthful exuberance in his dives like he once had, but Ronaldo’s ability to draw a penalty or a card is still impressive.


Ronaldo has scored over 53 goals from free kicks in his career, 11 more than rival Lionel Messi. He has that patented stance when taking a free kick that appears in almost any FIFA video game. With his age, Ronaldo doesn’t seem to try to draw penalty kicks as much as he once did, but he still has it tucked in his arsenal whenever he needs.

4). Lebron James


Lebron James, the self proclaimed king has been the best player in the NBA for pretty much the last decade, making nine finals in his career and winning three. He’s on pace to eventually claim the scoring title passing Kareem for most points of all time. Lebron is box-office wherever he goes and many NBA fans are excited to see what he will do in the upcoming 2019 season.


LeBron James greatness extends past the sport of basketball, as he will star in the upcoming block buster movie, Space Jam 2. Some may say, hey when did he learn how to act, while others know from watching him that he’s been honing his skills for the dramatics for years now. LeBron’s trademark dives are usually quite similar, often electing to grab his face as if taking a bat to the face. Check out some of his performances from on YouTube and you won’t be disappointed.

3).Wu Minxia


Wu Minxia may not be known throughout much of the western world, and in terms of popularity is no where near some of the other athletes on this list. However her dominance in Olympic diving is quite amazing. She is the all time medal leader in the world of Olympic diving with seven in total, five being gold. Her career spanned from 2004 to 2016, specializing in the 1m and 3m springboard, as well as the synchronized 3m. She remains to this day an inspiration for aspiring divers.


2). James Harden

James Harden might be the best scorer we have in todays NBA, especially with KDs recent injury, and he is without a doubt one of the best players ever to grace the NBA. His ability to play iso ball, hit ridiculously hard step backs, and yes draw fouls is unrivaled in basketball. He averaged 11 FTA per game this season, which was one contributing factor to his historic scoring season.

The thing about Harden’s flops are they aren’t necessarily super over the top performances, and can be very subtle. Whether that be slight movements and jerks while driving, or throwing his legs under defenders when taking a contested jump shot. It is an ability unmatched in today’s NBA. Officiating Harden has become somewhat of a game unto it self. It is hotly debated as to if he deserves consistent calls into the post season which he gets throughout the regular season. So far it seems as though he doesn’t and it will most likely continue this way.

1). Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior


Neymars performance on football’s biggest stage really highlighted the true talent of one of Brazil’s brightest stars. He not only displayed a level of acting that would make Daniel Day-Lewis envious, but also the acrobatics that Jackie Chan wouldn’t even attempt himself. The sheer conviction he has when selling his performances are incredible, and the amount of pain he seemingly experiences is on another level. He is simply, “The One”.

It’s safe to say Neymar took a lot of heat for his antics at the 2018 World Cup, but it did provide us with some of the most painstakingly cringeworthy videos and montages. He has apparently heard the fans outcry and hasn’t taken it to the extremes he did in years past, but it can be said for certain he has by no means stopped.


There you have it, a short list on some of the best and brightest in the world of sports diving. Is it fair, debatable, but what we can say for certain is it’s a part of sports, and can add so humorous moments in the world of athletics.


But about your destiny, Artemis, dear to Zeus,

it’s for you to dive

and meet your fate in the stallion-land of the football pitch,

no defender will sweep you off to the game’s end, yet the ref will inevitably call a red

the Olympus Fields, where golden-goal awaits

where victory glides on in immortal ease for diving men.


If you would like to contact me, you can reach me at:

A writer living in Japan. Creating articles about the 2020 Tokyo Games. A regular contributor to Junkture Magazine.

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