After years of watching basketball turn into theatrics, the NBA announced last week it would start fining players for clear cases of flopping, beginning next season. The league has not determined the dollar amount for the fines or how the system would work. Presumably, the NBA will watch DVDs from each game and determine which players it will fine.
“About time” was my first reaction, considering flopping is one of the biggest on-court problems the league needs to address. A few years ago, I remember Rip Hamilton of the Pistons and Reggie Miller of the Pacers flopping on both ends of the court game after game during the Eastern Conference playoffs. Both players would curl off baseline screens with their arms flailing, pretending the other one displaced them. Sometimes the officials called a foul, sometimes they would ignore it. The players have become so skilled at flopping that officials need a theatre degree to properly determine when a player is actually displaced and when they are auditioning for a new Tom Petty “Free Fallin’” video.
Rip Hamilton and Manu Ginobili of the Spurs headline my All-Flopping team with Anderson Varejao of the Cavs, Derek Fisher of the Lakers and Sam Cassell of the Celtics (who actually flops on offense all the time, but rarely on defense) rounding out the squad. It’s a good thing we don’t have to see Hamilton and Ginobili flopping their way through another NBA Finals.
Outstanding ABC/ESPN analyst Jeff Van Gundy said a few weeks ago that floppers should be required to either have a flop-off at halftime or wear a scarlet letter F on their jerseys. It’s interesting that the NBA decided to go after their millionaires’ pocketbooks instead of punishing them on the court (calling a Flopper Foul on the offender and giving the opposing team a free throw and the ball back, for example)
Despite the flopping free-for-all in the NBA, flopping has not trickled down in abundance to youth basketball. Occasionally a flopper will take a dive, but usually I see theatrics when players bail out before they take a charge because they don’t want to get hurt.
At the high school and youth basketball level, it is within the rules to call a technical foul on a flopper. Rule 10, Section 3, Article 7 of the NFHS rule book says a player can receive a technical foul for committing an unsporting foul. One of the examples given (letter F) is “faking being fouled.”
In my 10 years officiating, I’ve warned floppers, but have never called a technical foul for the unsporting act. Hopefully the NBA’s decision to fine floppers will improve the game at the highest level and prevent a new generation of youngsters from trying to play basketball and act simultaneously.