This season, 19 NBA players were warned about flopping, which is when a player intentionally falls down while guarding an offensive player to draw a foul. Five of these players were fined $5,000. Seven more got hit during the playoffs.
A flopper could get up to five violations, be fined up to $30,000, and then be suspended when their card reaches six flops. The league competition committee is expected to discuss this so-called issue this week in San Antonio.
Let’s keep in mind that flopping is determined not on the court, but after the fact by NBA video watchers who review each game like on-duty security guards.
“Some guys have been doing it for years,” LeBron James of the Miami Heat told ESPN.
“People flop all the time,” said Indiana Pacers center Roy Hibbert.
This prompted a Paul Simon question: Why, after all these years, has flopping become so toxic that Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban is now funding an 18-month study by Southern Methodist University’s biomechanics department on “identifying” flopping.
Our “Sports Odds and Ends” reporter recently asked WNBA insiders if flopping is a similar concern on the women’s side.
“I think it’s been part of the game forever,” admitted Connecticut Assistant Coach Jennifer Gillom. “I don’t see [flopping] that much.” However, she noted that when flopping does occur, “I know it does upset coaches.”
“If you can get away with it, do it,” added Phoenix guard Alexis Hornbuckle. “If you stick your booty out, that’s an illegal screen, but if it works, you keep [doing] it. If it doesn’t get called, you keep on doing it.
“If the referees are not intelligent enough to make the proper calls, then it’s on them,” Hornbuckle continued. “To be honest, as a player, keep doing it until somebody calls it. We are going to go hard and play and do what we think is right.”
Is flopping therefore akin to driving — until the flashing lights appear behind you, you just keep on driving fast?
“If it’s illegal, the whistle blows [and] then you don’t do it again,” said Hornbuckle, who added that it shouldn’t be on the players and coaches to do the referees’ job. “If it doesn’t blow, you continue to do it. The [WNBA] game is being played at a high pace, and it’s hard for [officials] to get those calls all the time.”
“Sometimes [a player’s] embellishment helps the call in your favor,” noted teammate Charde Houston on another player’s flop move. “I don’t think that it is affecting our game that much, but when it does happen, I feel like it’s up to the refs to make that call and recognize it.”
NBA Commissioner David Stern said last week that perhaps stiffer penalties are needed to stop flopping. “You’re not going to cause somebody to stop it for $5,000 when the average player’s salary is $5.5 million,” he stated.
Perhaps this is why flopping hasn’t reached such gigantic proportions in the W, where players’ average salaries aren’t even a tenth of their male counterparts’. As a result, female players essentially can’t afford such flop fines.
But in the NBA, they now have scientists looking into flopping to determine whether it’s a defensive art form or a nuisance. “Evidently there must be more of an issue [over flopping in the NBA] than I know about,” concluded Gillom.
Information from ESPN.com was used in this report.
Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org.