Miami Heat and LeBron James in Game 5: The Risks and Rewards of Flopping

Derek CrouseContributor IIIMay 30, 2013

Earning Oscars or titles?
Earning Oscars or titles?

The Indiana Pacers will face the Miami Heat at 8:30 PM on TNT from AmericanAirlines Arena. Game 5 of the NBA Eastern Conference Finals will be under a microscope for the recent flopping controversies. Referees and players from Joey Crawford to LeBron James have been in the spotlight with the enforcement of new flopping rules.

There have been multiple flopping fines given to the Heat and the Pacers in this series. LeBron James has been taking criticism as of late for his opinions on flopping as well as his tactics on the court.

In sports, teams are looking for any small competitive edge to win games, especially during deep playoff runs.      

Whether it's pine-tarred bats, spraying Pam on an undersized lineman’s jersey or portraying extra contact, many athletes are on the brink of cheating. Flopping is something that irks fans because it is acting instead of participating in honest play.

Putting stick ‘em on receiver’s gloves or spitting on a baseball does not change the physicality of the sport.

The real problem is finding a way to get the tactic out of the sport. These types of strategies are taught and trained throughout generations. When a certain tactic earns a well-known nickname, fans have to realize that it’s been ingrained into the game.

Veterans have passed flopping down to the current generation, so to blame certain current players for doing it now will never solve the issue. 

If coaches and crafty veterans are still encouraging it, there will be times where it could determine win-loss records. To lose a Game 7 because of a couple of non-physical plays could make or break careers as well as contracts.

Look at Derek Fisher, for example. How many times did he score the winning basket? How many times did his team score after a turnover from a flopping call on his part?

There are countless players in this league who are veteran journeyman role players. Some are known for defense, rebounding, perimeter offense and even flopping. These are the guys tasked with getting the star players into foul trouble. It’s not a fallacy to say that some NBA players have earned a little more on a new team due to their defensive tactics, which include flopping.

The NBA instituted new rules to deter flopping prior to the 2013 NBA playoffs. A violator will be fined $5,000 after the first infraction, $10,000 after the second, $15,000 after the third and $30,000 after his fourth flopping offense. Any subsequent violations are subject to league discipline.


The Miami Heat’s LeBron James was fined $5,000 for a flop committed in the Indiana Pacers' 99-92 Game 4 victory Tuesday in Indianapolis.

Paying $5,000 for an action that could possibly be a make-or-break play to win an NBA title will never deter a player from engaging in this activity. Michael Jordan would have spent that in an hour of playing blackjack.

If James can buy 33 bottles of Cristal, costing about $60,000, in one night (with a total bar tab almost reaching $160,000), then a $5,000 fine will never stop players from flopping. The risk is worth the reward.

When you have a team with the skill and talent like the Heat, fans wonder why they would resort to a strategy the league is currently trying to crack down on. They have three players with the biggest reputation of flopping in the NBA in Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade and James. Shane Battier is also earning a reputation for being a flopper, right behind Ray Allen.

Asked about anti-flopping rules before Game 4, James said to reporters, “It hasn't been a problem for that many guys. I don't really pay too much attention to it. I think it’s been good. It’s year one, so you are not just going to go cold turkey. Guys have been accustomed to doing it for years, and it’s not even a bad thing, just trying to get the advantage. Any way you can get the advantage over an opponent to help your team win, then so be it,” according to Sporting News.

Most fans would argue that the best player in the NBA right now is LeBron James, with Kobe Bryant now in the twilight of his career. So when the best player in a professional sports league endorses flopping, why wouldn't others trying to reach his status do the same?

Much like the NFL has enforced certain hits it deems dangerous with very hefty fines, the NBA might want to follow suit with the way it fines flopping, especially deep in the playoffs. If players keep using this tactic, look for David Stern to maybe implement suspensions for repeat offenders.

Fans have to remember that a flopping call is virtually creating a turnover. In the playoffs, where every possession matters so much and an entire season is in the balance, players will continue trying to earn an Oscar.