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Fining NBA players for flopping is not the panacea it seems

Sep 28, 2012, 2:25 AM EDT

Blake Griffin, Tony Parker, flop Getty Images

When news came out of the NBA’s referee training Thursday that the league was setting a punishment system up for flopping, the general reaction was “it’s about time.”

And it is — the league should have been fining guys for egregious flops for years. There are guys that deserve the fines, like Reggie Evans in this clip.

But it’s rarely going to be that clean and simple.

It’s also not going to stop players from flopping — it’s about guys trying to gain an advantage by selling a call. Guys may stop trying to sell the extreem examples, but a lot of what fans call flops start with genuine contact. Guys sell it to get a call, but there is real, physical contact at the start of it.

Now you’re going to ask a guy in a suit in New York to judge the level of contact and the intent of a player the next day on video monitors.

Good luck with that.

Flopping is often an eye of the beholder foul, like charge and block calls. You can put up a “flop of the night” video if you want, but many of those can be argued. They almost all start with contact between two big and fast-moving men, and while guys try to sell calls they can come back and show you actual contact and say that their reaction was natural.

And you can be sure that the fans of some of those calls are going to howl when the fines come down.

There are flops that deserve fines. Ones that are so obvious they are laughable. Those are the easy ones.

But where the NBA is going to draw that line is not going to be easy at all.

And as long as players think they can gain an advantage they will continue to sell calls.

  1. granadafan - Sep 28, 2012 at 2:39 AM

    It should be a personal foul for the first offense and then technicals afterwards. The key is about enforcement and not letting the players with it like they do in soccer.

  2. eventhorizon04 - Sep 28, 2012 at 2:54 AM

    Most flops fall into two categories:
    Type 1:The “hilariously obvious,” which is a flop so clear-cut that even fans of the flopper are laughing at how badly he flopped (see that Reggie Evans clip). These flops are rare but frustrating since they go unpunished..

    Type 2: The “probable but slightly debatable,” which is a flop that looks obvious to most people BUT fans of the flopper would argue it’s possible that the foul was deserved because there was significant contact. These flops are more common.

    Kurt mentions how it’ll be tough to assess fines for the second, more common type of flopping, and I agree since it’ll be hard to argue that a guy sitting in an office is a better judge of the severity of the contact than the nearby referee.

    HOWEVER, even if the fines only stop type 1 (the hilariously obvious), that would represent an improvement. Any reduction in flopping would make the game better, and who knows – maybe counting “flops” as an official statistic would be enough to make guys hesitate before doing it, so these fines could be a deterrent since players will know the league is watching.

  3. gugurich - Sep 28, 2012 at 3:17 AM

    I hope there are going to be suspensions involved after a certain number of flopping violations. The threat of missing games is going to be a bigger deterrent than just money. I hope they also consider taking game action in the future for really egregious flops because a fine or later suspension is still not going to make up for the benefit derived from the flop.

    Sure there is a gray area with some flops but some are black and white. Even if only the most ridiculous flops are eliminated like Reggie Evans falling to the ground and getting Grevius Vazquez almost ejected from the game, that would be plenty. Lebron never winking after pulling off a flop in a playoff game will make NBA basketball better. Harden pulled off three or four extreme flops a game in the Finals. The Finals! I’m good with allowing human judgment into the evaluation process if it puts a dent into flopping.

  4. Andrés Garcia - Sep 28, 2012 at 3:51 AM

    I’m not entirely sold on this. Like everybody else I hate flopping, but I want less subjectivity in the game–not more.

  5. manchestermiracle - Sep 28, 2012 at 9:31 AM

    I’d rather see the obvious stuff called during the game. Or, rather, in the case of an obvious flop (“the easy ones”), no call at all. It can be done. Just like illegal pick and rolls should be called more often. It isn’t difficult to do. If the man setting the pick moves before the defender can go around him, that’s an illegal screen. Except it is hardly ever called. Same with blocking/charging fouls. Were the defender’s feet set before the player with the ball left the floor? Charge. Otherwise it’s a block. But it is often called incorrectly. How about using that video of the game to train the refs better? Does anyone even go over game film with the refs and point out the stuff they missed or got wrong?

  6. beavertonsteve - Sep 28, 2012 at 1:54 PM

    I propose shaiming as the ultimate flopping deterral.

    After the league reviews the game anyone who is found to be flopping should be fined and forced to wear a red “F” on their jersey for the next 5 games to designate them as a flopper. As a flopper the refs would be able to hand out techicals for additional instances of flopping. Once the player has completed their five game shaming without additonal flopping instances the red “F” can be removed.

    • eugenesaxe - Sep 28, 2012 at 5:43 PM

      Everyone in the league already knows who the biggest floppers are, yet they still do it. “Shaming” them would amount to nothing. Techs would, I agree with that part.

  7. hardballtalkusername - Sep 28, 2012 at 3:23 PM

    With this rule in place, will any of the Clippers’ players even make money next year?

  8. eugenesaxe - Sep 28, 2012 at 5:41 PM

    Does anyone think a fine will stop it? If a well-timed flop wins a game for someone, a fine is worth it.

  9. skinsfanwill - Oct 3, 2012 at 10:52 AM

    This is a damn shame in my opinion. Players getting fined for acting. Refs being trained to in order to fine players. How about, “If the refs don’t call the flop then players will stop doing it.” A flop is only a flop if the refs calls the play in the players favor. Stop calling the bullzhit and the players will stop flopping. Simple as that.

  10. rocirius - Oct 4, 2012 at 11:54 PM

    There was one play in the Celtics/Heat series where Wade shot an off balance shot, kicked the defender in the nuts as Wade fell to the floor and got a foul called in his favor. I’d like to see suspensions for plays like that.

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