Making Sense of the NBA's Absurd Punishment Scale

Daniel O'BrienFeatured ColumnistMay 21, 2013

HOUSTON, TX - FEBRUARY 16:  (L-R) NBA Commissioner David Stern and NBA Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver address the media before NBA All-Star Saturday Night part of 2013 NBA All-Star Weekend at the Toyota Center on February 16, 2013 in Houston, Texas. Silver will succeed Stern as commissioner on February 1, 2014. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
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When it comes to fines in the NBA lately, something's just not adding up.

It's certainly important for the league to maintain its respectability and image. Every so often, that means dishing out fines to players or coaches who get out of line on or off the court.

If they truly care about doing what's best for the game (which I believe they do), they should put as much effort into punishing flopping as they do to punish post-game comments or unsportsmanlike acts.

In the Eastern Conference Semifinals, Chicago Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau was fined $35,000 for critical comments about the officiating.

They weren't outrageous proclamations intended to embarrass the league, nor were they aimed at humiliating any one referee.

He simply disagreed with a few calls, pointed out that the Miami Heat got to the free-throw line a lot, and said that he didn't understand how Udonis Haslem and Chris Anderson weren't whistled more.

"Watching how things are going, I see how things are going," Thibodeau said following Game 3. "I watch very closely. I watch very closely. What I'm seeing is, we'll adjust accordingly.

"When you play this team, you have to have a lot of mental, physical and emotional toughness. Things aren't going to go your way. That's the way it is. We're not going to get calls. That's reality. We still have to find a way to get it done, and we can."

In other incidents of recent hefty fines, Taj Gibson was fined $25,000 for his on-court tirade at officials, Kevin Durant was fined $25,000 for a threatening gesture and Marco Belinelli was fined $15,000 for an unsportsmanlike behavior.

But blatant flopping gets $5,000?

Some folks may not agree with the flop fines because it's fining a non-violent on-court act. But if you ask me, they don't fine the floppers enough. And it cheapens the game.

It's especially puzzling when a critical, yet respectful coach, gets slapped with a $35,000 ticket for disagreeing with a few calls. The league needs to figure out how to even the fine scale because it's out of balance right now.

It's just a flop, you say?

If it was that simple, the NBA wouldn't have started fining players for doing it in the first place.

Basketball is an extremely difficult sport to officiate because there's so much split-second contact and subjectivity surrounding foul calls.

It's perfectly acceptable for a player to sell actual contact to draw a whistle, but blatant flopping misleads the referees and makes games even more difficult to officiate than they already are.

The $5,000 fines aren't doing much to keep the acting in check, because embellishment and drama sequences are still widespread around the league. All the mini-flops and nearly-finable flops are making it tougher to determine which instances should be punished and which shouldn't.

Upping the fines would make a bigger statement and deter more of the borderline flops. And less embellishment means less complaining from coaches or tirades from players.

The least the NBA can do is to balance out the gigantic disparity between flopping fines and other offenses.