NBA Will Fine Floppers, but Is That Enough?

Matthew SchiffmanAnalyst IMay 29, 2008

The NBA has announced that there will be a system in place beginning next season that will punish players who flop. 

That punishment will be aimed at the players’ checkbooks.  The terms of the system have not been defined, as the NBA has not announced any specific system yet.  The only thing the public knows right now is that floppers will be receiving fines next year.

I say it’s about time the league has instituted some sort of plan to counter the ridiculous amount of flopping that now plagues the league.

And before I go further allow me to defend my article in which I said the Spurs’ Brent Barry should have sold the bump that he received from Derek Fisher at the end of Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals…

Some people say that selling a foul is a form of flopping.  I agree with that in general.  But when a shooter gets a defender in the air, I have no problem with the shooter leaning in to draw contact.  By getting his defender in the air, the shooter has gained an advantage and should be allowed to lean in and draw the call. 

Flopping, on the other hand, most often takes place on the defensive end, when a player is barely touched but goes flying across the court or into the stands (see Andrei Kirilenko’s ridiculous flop in Game Two of Utah’s first round series against the Houston Rockets earlier in the playoffs).

Now onto the rest of my article…

Flopping has become all too commonplace in the NBA.  Back in the days of the Bad Boys when the Pistons used the Jordan rules to try to stop Michael Jordan and the Bulls, nobody was flopping.  Professional basketball players wanted to prove their strength, not take dives in order to draw charges.

Guys like Charles Barkley, David Robinson, Hakeem Olajuwon, and Karl Malone didn’t stand there and flop in order to get calls. 

No, they actually played good hard defense.  But, sadly, we don’t see that nearly as often today.

One thing that has contributed to the increased softness in the NBA is the foreign invasion of players.  I’m not saying it’s bad that foreign players are in the league, rather I think it’s good that the NBA is growing and that the sport of basketball is becoming more popular around the world. 

But, when you look at the most notorious floppers in the NBA most of them are foreign.

I already mentioned Andrei Kirilenko.  Others include Manu Ginobili, Fabricio Oberto, Sasha Vujacic, and Anderson Varejao.  It’s as if the league isn’t just becoming more international, but also becoming more like the most popular international sport, soccer (or football as it’s known outside of the U.S.).

I’ve loved soccer all my life, but the thing that has always annoyed me most is the amount of diving that occurs during soccer matches. 

Again, it’s far more common to see when watching foreign competition than American competition.  Turn on a soccer game between two European clubs or two South American clubs and you’re bound to see players diving all over the field. 

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On the contrary, watch an MLS game and you’ll see players who shove back when they’re pushed, rather than fall to the ground.

But, soccer does punish players who make obvious dives.  Referees can warn, and even eject, soccer players for faking, while the NBA has never had a system that punishes players for flopping.  But alas, now they do.

The only problem now is implementation.  As I said before, players will be fined, though the NBA still hasn’t discussed what the amounts will be or how repeat offenders will be punished.  And the league has yet to clarify if it will go back to review possible flops and decide upon penalties then.

But really, is fining a player enough?  I know basketball players want to spend their money on things other than paying fines, but all of them can easily afford to.  So if the NBA is really trying to crackdown on flopping and eliminate it from the game it needs to go further.

Threatening players with technicals or suspensions would be much more effective.  That may seem harsh, but flopping is so typical these days that it’s casting a bad light on the game.

Either way, referees are going to have a difficult job deciding who’s flopping and who’s not, just as they do now.  But put the idea of a technical or a suspension into players’ heads and they’ll be far less likely to risk taking a dive.

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