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NBA Players union to file grievance over new flopping rules

Oct 3, 2012, 7:34 PM EDT

Josh Smith, Paul Pierce, flop Getty Images

When asked, players generally have been supportive of the new NBA anti-flopping rules and fines that were announced by the league office on Wednesday. Because they all think they have been victimized by floppers (but would never do it themselves).

The players’ union, not so happy.

The union has filed a grievance with the league over the regulations, reports Howard Beck of the New York Times.

It’s not really a huge shock — the union’s job is to protect the players and their paychecks, and they see this as a threat. There are legit questions about an appeal process and why the league gets the power here.

Bottom line, David Stern had a competition committee that discussed rule changes and things that included flopping, then the owners voted on those changes, and this didn’t come out of that process. This came unilaterally out of the league. You can like the intent but the league did not follow traditional or mandated process.

Plus, if you think the Billy Hunter and the union are going to pass up an opportunity to tweak Stern, you have not been paying attention the past 18 months.

Here is the direct quote from the union’s release:

NBPA Executive Director Billy Hunter stated that, “The NBA is not permitted to unilaterally impose new economic discipline against the players without first bargaining with the union. We believe that any monetary penalty for an act of this type is inappropriate and without precedent in our sport or any other sport. We will bring appropriate legal action to challenge what is clearly a vague and arbitrary overreaction and overreach by the Commissioner’s office.”

But frankly, in the end this isn’t a bad set of rules for the union. For one, the union has to realize flopping rose to the forefront as an issue during the playoffs and the league needed to act. Flopping is and was damaging the league’s image. Second, the fines here are not that severe.

The union may have questions over how the rule will be enforced. We all do. Someone will argue that every close block/charge call was embellished and deserves a fine. The more likely outcome is only the most egregious calls lead to fines and the players will learn to walk that line.

While the union may not like them, the players seem to back the new regulations. Look what some Lakers told Sam Amick of Sports Illustrated at Wednesday’s practice.

“Shameless flopping is … a chump move,” Kobe Bryant said. “We’re familiar with it. Vlade kind of pioneered it in the playoff series against Shaq [as a member of the Kings in the early 2000s].

“I’d love to see it have an impact on the game itself,” Bryant said. “[In] international play, technical fouls are the penalty for it, you get free throws, get the ball back and that sort of thing. I like the rule, though….”

“Back in the 80s, they didn’t flop,” Metta World Peace said. “It’s very annoying … It’s not fair to the guys who have worked on their body all these years and got stronger. It’s not fair. Flopping is very stupid. It’s not even basketball. I don’t know who taught people how to flop. Just make the right call. It’s that simple.”

I can’t wait to read the quotes the first time a guy gets fined for this. Part of the league’s goal is to have the public fines be a deterrent (the fine itself is not way out of line, but the perception could change behavior).

This is just not going to play out smoothly, that may be the only sure thing about the flopping rule.

  1. manchestermiracle - Oct 3, 2012 at 8:19 PM

    After-the-fact fines are not the solution here. The league could have easily addressed this by simply adopting the international rule: Call a technical on obvious acts. But then, the NBA has always had a problem with international rules that make sense.

    • lunasceiling - Oct 3, 2012 at 10:06 PM

      A similar policy has begun to turn things around in soccer. Referees are now much more aggressive about issuing a yellow card for flopping (called “simulation” in the soccer world). A yellow card is a serious sanction, too…much more so than the pocket change (or NBA multi-millionaires) fines the NBA is talking. Two yellows equals a red and an ejection, forcing your team to play short-handed and being excluded from the next game. Too many yellows build up and you get another suspension.

      It’s helping. Some players (and some leagues, where the refs are not as quick to book a player for flopping) are still pretty bad, but overall, the flopping has gone down a lot. No reason why significant penalties for flopping can’t clean up the NBA, too.

  2. mogogo1 - Oct 3, 2012 at 10:21 PM

    The only reason the union is filing a grievance is because Billy Hunter needs to keep making his family rich off the players. (No doubt his kids and other relatives will be the ones filing the paperwork at hundreds of bucks per hour.) And if the majority of players have been supportive of the new rule, how can that not equate to the union being for it? Isn’t a union typically majority rule? (Except when Mr. Corruption is at the helm, like good ol’ Billy.)

    • badintent - Oct 3, 2012 at 10:48 PM

      Yeah, it’s hard to survive on a $3 million dollar raise.BH should change his name to Sir BS.Pathetic when the US Prez has to call you out in the union/owner talks.

  3. hardballtalkusername - Oct 3, 2012 at 10:28 PM

    Of course they are, the NBPA is headed by Derek Fisher (Sir flops-a-lot).

  4. ajpurp - Oct 4, 2012 at 12:54 AM

    The problem with in game techs for flopping is that it would raise the issue with refereeing incompetence that the league doesn’t want, they’re trying to incentivize players not to do it in the first place. The last thing they want is more discretion in the refs hands to influence the outcome of a game. The NBA and, most leagues, are very conscious of this after Sir Don Bets A Lot. If a tech could be called and the ball turned over its simply too much discretion for a very very subjective discretionary call a ref would have to make. Plain and simple, actual smart move by Stern for once with all the public outcries and negative image of the league as fixing games or turning WWE. Good rule, best alternative to more stringent flopping rules that would either influence outcomes or be largely ignored like the “Paul Pierce Rule”, offensive player throwing shoulder into another after getting them in the air, it’s illegal yet Pierce does it endlessly.

  5. honkerdawg - Oct 4, 2012 at 11:01 AM

    Typical NBAers, if you don’t flop you have nothing to worry about, if you done, DON’T! Otherwise you pay for acting. Get real guys you’re not that good anyway and fans are getting tired of ALL the antics including the NBAPA grievance filings

  6. thraiderskin - Oct 4, 2012 at 11:18 AM

    I’m just glad the association is trying to get rid of MOST of the flopping. I’m not a huge BB fan, but nothing makes me change the channel faster, even in the playoffs, then when grown men flop to the ground like they just took an 80’s Tyson uppper-cut.

  7. dysraw1 - Oct 4, 2012 at 1:16 PM

    i really hate flopping it takes all the integrity out of the game, when i played if you got knocked down you really got knocked down. these days guys are flying all over that were barely touch its comical

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