As long as there are penalties, fouls and other rules to combat misconduct, flopping in its various forms will forever be part of sports.
If the potential competitive advantage gained from diving, faking an injury, or otherwise pretending that some physical transgression occurred, outweighs the risk of being definitively caught in the act, teams/athletes are going to seize it.
So, there are serial floppers, suspected floppers and all those who suffer from the scrutiny caused by the nefarious strategy. As leagues and sports organizations try to tamp down on the practice, the art of the flop is more important than ever before.
The best, while drawing the ire of opposing teams and fans, simply know how to straddle the line—doing just enough to turn a borderline play into a penalty on the other team. This is often described as being 'part of the game.'
However, some athletes—even the most exquisite of floppers—partake in a laughable charade that deserves punishment when caught and the ire of fans when effective.
These are the 20 worst flop attempts in sports.
In a sequence of events that raises as many questions about a potential conspiracy to throw the match as it does his frame of mind at the time, we find this footballer for América São Paulo; a third-division club in Brazil.
Not only does he take an obvious dive off minimal (or nonexistent) foot contact, but he uncorks a spinning, harmless dribbler on the resulting penalty kick. Seriously, a five-year-old would've had a better chance of scoring.
If this guy was trying to sabotage his club, he certainly chose a convoluted and humiliating way to do it.
The 2012-13 NHL lockout may have shortened the season, but it didn't discourage (now serial) flopper Brandon Prust of the Montreal Canadiens from a attempting an impressive one back in January against the Jets.
Here's a case where the flopper undermined himself by trying a little too hard. In real-time—and from the view behind Prust—Nik Antropov's check into the Habs' bench looks like it could be a straightforward case of boarding.
But, Prust's hesitant, but no less dramatic, crumpling to the ice resulted in a matching penalty for diving.
In a game against the Phoenix Suns in 2010, Heat superstar—and 2013 NBA MVP—LeBron James transformed a standard flop into a moment of theater.
Not content to merely tumble backwards onto the court, James twirls melodramatically before collapsing. All he needed was a lacy kerchief in hand and the arms of a strong Victorian gentleman.
New Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly was a hot commodity because he is the mind behind the madness that is the Oregon Ducks hyper-hurry-up system.
With his speedy offense keeping exhausted defenses on the field until they simply could not run any more, his Pac-12 adversaries discovered lying is much more effective than asking a 275-pound nose-tackle to chase after LaMichael James.
So, teams like Cal started to experience a nasty wave of leg cramps during critical moments of the game.
MMA heavyweight Bob Sapp looks like a dude who should be easily dispatching weaker opponents.
Instead, he's garnered a well-earned reputation as a promotional draw who fights just long enough not to incite a riot, before earning his paycheck and tapping out.
This fight from February 2012 is a particularly egregious example as Sapp barely puts up any resistance to fighter Volkan Duzgun, before covering up and signaling he's done.
In March, rising young U.S. tennis star Sloane Stephens made a splash at the Australian Open when she beat Serena Williams and moved on to face top-ranked Victoria Azarenka.
Victory was in reach for Stephens, after unforced errors cut Azarenka's lead to 5-4. Then, the drama started—Azarenka started complaining about a nebulous injury and was given a 10-minute timeout off the court.
Her momentum halted, Stephens was eliminated after Azarenka regrouped.
Gareth Bale of the Premier League's Tottenham Hotspur doesn't get the benefit of the doubt as a well-known and highly experienced diver, so you'd think he'd pick his flopping opportunities with care—saving his best performances for the most pivotal moments.
This was not Bale's best performance. It reminds me of a recent gallery of the most awesome FIFA game glitches; his reaction was spot on, but the actual thing that happened..was not.
Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul really embraced the idea behind "making something out of nothing," because his pained flailing was an effect with no real cause. The look of bewilderment on the Kings' Reggie Evans face is priceless.
Not only did Chicago Cubs center fielder Julio Borbon put his manager Dale Sveum in the horrible position of being on the losing side of a doomed argument, but he may have cheesed off the puppet-masters pulling at the strings of human destiny.
How else can you explain such a lame attempt to convince the ump/world that he was hit by that ball? He was supposed to be. Who knows what the repercussions will be...
In a 2011 game against the St. Louis Rams, the New York Giants...um...gave away their plan to slow down the no-huddle offense, when safety Deon Grant and linebacker Jacquian Williams peered over to the sideline and then toppled over like dominoes.
Diving is often much tougher to assess in hockey, because amidst the furious action, a seemingly innocuous bit of contact can inflict a surprising amount of pain and/or damage on a player.
This, however, is so ridiculous that if it wasn't a flop, then New York Rangers defenseman Anton Stralman has spaghetti noodles for legs.
Back in April, the Maple Leafs' James van Riemsdyk's harmless ankle-tap was processed in Stralman's mind to be a vicious clubbing.
The rivalry between the Miami Hurricanes and Florida State Seminoles may not have the national title implications it once did, but it's still heated...and still defined by craziness.
In their 2011 battle, the Hurricanes' punter—along with the officials—cranked the hatred of Seminoles fans to 11 with a laughable roughing call.
If this punter was roughed, then he probably wears a helmet in the shower.
Few sports are plagued by flopping/diving/fake injuries like pro soccer—because it's effective and under-penalized.
While certain players in the European leagues have reputations as serial offenders, Juventus defender Leonardo Bonucci's dive in a match last December is so hilariously transparent, it may trump all that came before it.
Unless the slide-tackling goalkeeper's shoe is spike with a teaspoon of material from a neutron star, there is no natural explanation for Bonucci's squealing tumble.
Taking a dive in boxing is one of the most deadly sins in sports; if a bunch of money is riding on a particular outcome. In this case, I doubt much money changed hands.
Boxer Nicholas Capes was a last-minute replacement in a match against former NFL defensive end Ray Edwards in February—and Capes obviously regretted the choice when he stepped into the ring.
As soon as the massive Edwards started what was most certainly going to be a pummeling, Capes dropped to the mat sans any real contact; earning him a suspension.
Maybe the Oklahoma City Thunder are going to be okay in the '13 playoffs without injured star Russell Westbrook.
Kevin Durant is taking his game to the next level and the team chemistry is so harmonious that Derek Fisher and Kevin Martin perfectly executed a synchronized flop at the expense of the Rockets' Omer Asik.
Asik either comes from the planet Krypton, or Fisher and Martin were a little too eager to draw the foul—they burned the 'fool me once' and 'twice.'
With the rising popularity of the 21st century version of the hurry-up offense in both the NCAA and NFL, inevitably, teams are going to develop strategies to counter its pace. This includes pushing the envelope when it comes to rules about player injuries on the field.
The practice of having an nonessential player for a given play feign an injury to give the defense a breather has been a college staple for years, but as more NFL clubs use the hurry-up, the pros are following suit.
Pittsburgh Steelers wideout Emmanuel Sanders doesn't have to worry about being invited to Inside the Actors Studio anytime soon—after getting fined, along with the team, for this travesty.
If I were the ump, I would have let this one go, instead of ejecting former Arkansas Razorbacks catcher Brian Walker in a 2007 game against division-rival Ole Miss, after he overplayed his hand on a non-bean ball.
Anyone willing to invent the exact nature of the non-injury on the spot—and then committed enough to walk around pretending to suffer from it—has already paid enough of a price.
Proving that the NBA has no monopoly on terrible flops in pro basketball, Mick Pennisi of the Philippine Basketball Association's Barako Bull provides one of greatest (as in epically bad) flop attempts in the sport's history.
While Pennisi shows neither the audacity of Chris Paul nor the respect for the craft as Chris Bosh, his bizarre, delayed reaction to a basketball bouncing off his noggin is too perfect. You can almost hear the grey matter churning during the brief moment he processes what just happened, before the flop.
You know a sport has an inherent problem with gratuitous flopping—in its various forms—when the perpetrator doesn't even offer the pretense of legitimacy.
In a critical Women's World Cup quarterfinal match between the United States and Brazil, Erika Cristiano dos Santos of the latter team, comfortably lays down on the pitch to delay the game due to "injury."
There's not even anything funny or endearing about this. She literally lays down for a virtual nap—bending the rules to give her team a breather.
Miami Heat big-man Chris Bosh's effort in a game against the Chicago Bulls' Carlos Boozer in 2011 is the Sistine Chapel of awful flop attempts. It brings together so many putrid elements in a minute of basketball that it had to be burned to prevent others from wielding its power.
No compelling evidence of true contact? Check. Slow response, followed by hyperbolic display of fake injury that belies any sense of humility? Yep. Continued to pretend, long after it mattered? Why not.