It was reported Thursday (via ESPN) that the NBA will finally be taking some degree of action against the dreaded flop. Flopping is the act of pretending to be fouled on a clean play in order to draw an incorrect foul call.
If you continue to do this, you may you have to suffer some consequences. What those exactly should be and what the progression is, is to be decided... we just want to put a stake in the ground that says this is not something that we want to be part of our game.
While it is good that action is being taken for the first time in NBA history against flopping, the initial action is likely to be too weak. Stern is presumably referring to some sort of post-game fine, similar to what NFL players receive for dangerous hits. If a fine is all the penalty is, there are a few problems.
No In-Game Incentive
Penalties truly draw attention when they change the outcome of a game. In the NFL, the 15-yard penalties are arguably more effective than the fines. A reasonable approach to flops would be for a flop to be an in-game technical foul. Two flops would then result in expulsion from the game.
After LeBron James' first expulsion from a close game, you can bet players would flop less. LeBron being fined $10,000 has a lot less oomph.
Doesn't Penalize Stars
One of the biggest problem with fines in general is that stars are not penalized heavily enough. Perhaps Renaldo Balkman will now avoid flopping because he cannot afford the fines.
However, max-contract stars are still likely to flop in big games. In order to actually upset a max-contract star, a fine would have to be much larger than the NBA is likely to institute.
Will NBA players flop less in 2012-13?
A First Step
The initial implementation we will see this year is analogous to the four-team playoff being added to college football. We all know that eventually it will be extended and made into something better. However, for now it makes a terrible situation less terrible.
Eventually the NBA will implement replay on flops—just as they now do with flagrant fouls—and will enforce an in-game penalty. For this year, there will be some minor fines. Players will continue to flop, but we will talk about it more and notice it more.
At the very least, it is a step in the right direction.