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NBA Fines for Technicals, Flagrants, Suspensions Skyrocket from 2012 to 2014

SACRAMENTO, CA - FEBRUARY 19:  DeMarcus Cousins #15 of the Sacramento Kings talks to referee Bennie Adams during their game against the San Antonio Spurs at Sleep Train Arena on February 19, 2013 in Sacramento, California.  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 Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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Ben LeibowitzCorrespondent IIIApril 23, 2014

Fighting, criticizing referees, getting caught for flopping multiple times, getting hit with technical and flagrant fouls—all of the above will earn you a fine in today’s NBA. The actual number following the dollar sign, however, might surprise you.

According to an article by BusinessVibes.com, the Association’s players were fined a total of $3,784,240 during the 2013-14 campaign.

The total fines from last season were more than $1 million higher, but that was only due to the fact that Hedo Turkoglu—then a member of the Orlando Magic—served a 20-game suspension after testing positive for a banned substance, per BusinessVibes. The ban resulted in $2,148,336 total lost wages for the veteran, thus significantly inflating the overall sum.

Here are the year-to-year fine totals when ignoring Turkoglu’s caveat:

Total NBA Player Fines By Year
SeasonFine Total
2011-12$1,618,288
2012-13$2,747,623
2013-14$3,784,240
BusinessVibes.com

The 2011-12 number was diminished due to the lockout-shortened 66-game season, but it still wasn't on pace to reach the dollar amount we see in two seasons afterward. So why exactly have these penalties occurred with more frequency?

BusinessVibes wrote the following:

There were a total of 56 player suspensions this year, double the 28 from 2011/12 and up six from last year. One reason the fines have increased so much is due to the increased amount of technical fouls called this season. According to ESPN, this NBA season had 482 technical fouls called on their players, the most ever since the sports network has been keeping track (1999-2000).

The article added that those techs accounted for $1,884,000 in fines and six teams were forced to fork over more than $100,000.

DeMarcus Cousins of the Sacramento Kings, Blake Griffin of the Los Angeles Clippers and Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder led the league with 16 technicals apiece, per ESPN.

Players receive a $1,000 fine for each of their first two technical fouls—a number that increases by $500 at different levels until capping at $2,500, per NBA.com.

Flagrant fouls, meanwhile, usually equate to a $15,000 fine, per Eskimo.com.

The overall increase in fines could also be tied to the institution of penalizing floppers, which started last season.

"Players will get a warning the first time, then be fined $5,000 for a second violation. The fines increase to $10,000 for a third offense, $15,000 for a fourth and $30,000 for the fifth. Six or more could lead to a suspension," per ESPN.

That, however, is only part of the overall equation.

As was often the case with anything negative, the New York Knicks were at the forefront of the fining narrative. J.R. Smith led the way by a large margin among players mainly due to his $50,000 fine for repeated shoelace hijinks.

Apr 2, 2014; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks guard J.R. Smith (8) looks on against the Brooklyn Nets during the second half at Madison Square Garden. The New York Knicks won 110-81. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
USA TODAY Sports

It will be interesting to see if the upward trend continues, but it's clear that commissioner Adam Silver will continue to uphold the league's integrity, just as David Stern did for decades.

Handing out 56 suspensions during the course of one season is a lot, so I wouldn't be surprised if the fine totals start to level off in the future.

Who knows? Maybe guys like Smith and Cousins will finally decide to behave themselves.

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