Why the NBA Must Eliminate Flopping Penalties


Garrett W. Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images

Whether you are the worst player on a little league basketball team, or an All-Star on an NBA roster, you always want to help your team win in any way possible.

You can do so in a variety of ways: scoring points, grabbing rebounds, dishing out assists, playing some solid defense against your opponent, or even just cheering for your teammates throughout the game. You want to do whatever you can to help your team win, because winning is the ultimate goal.

But imagine that when you tried to help your team gain an advantage over your opponent, by helping your team win the game, you were being heavily scrutinized for doing so, and even fined for such an act. This is the enigma that has been known around the NBA and the basketball world as one word: flopping.

Flopping, according to NBA.com, is defined as any physical act that appears to have been intended to cause the referees to call a foul on another player. The primary factor in determining whether a player committed a flop is whether his physical reaction to contact with another player is inconsistent with what would reasonably be expected given the force or direction of the contact.

The anti-flopping rule, which was brought into action before the 2012-2013 season, included 24 violations in its first year in place. 14 players were given warnings, while five guys were charged a $5,000 fine for the breaking the anti-flopping rule twice.

As for the playoffs, the first violation of the rule results in a $5,000 fine, the second results in a $10,000 fine, third results in a $15,000 fine, and the fourth flop in the postseason results in a $30,000. If a player violates the rule five or more times in the playoffs, they are subject to a greater fine and/or suspension.

Now let’s be honest, nobody likes it when other players flop. It can be annoying, and it makes the other player look foolish.

But the point that I am trying to make is that it will always be part of the NBA and the game of the basketball. No fines, violations, or suspensions will ever take it away from the game. All the players are trying to do is help their team win by any means, and if exaggerating a foul will help their team force a turnover or get an opponent in foul trouble, then of course they will want to do it.

Jun 1, 2013; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Miami Heat small forward LeBron James (6) reacts during the second half in game six of the Eastern Conference finals of the 2013 NBA Playoffs against the Indiana Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The Pacers won 91-77. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

LeBron James said it best.

“Some guys have been doing it for years, just trying to get an advantage,” James said. “Any way you can get an advantage over the opponent to help your team win, so be it.”

Wise words from James, and it all makes sense. He was also fined for this flop during Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Indiana Pacers.

But the bottom line is that it happens, and players will continue to do it.

Did James look extremely foolish during that play, when he completely exaggerated the physical contact that was delivered from David West? Sure. And he didn’t even get the call.

However, look at Tony Allen, who was fined $5,000 for his flop in Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals against the San Antonio Spurs.

Late in game, the Memphis Grizzlies forced a turnover and Allen attempted a layup but was hit hard by Manu Ginobili. He had a hard fall to the ground and started to hold his head and squirm around in pain, although when you look at the replay, he didn’t even hit his head at all.

Now, we don’t know exactly what Allen was going through, but it looked suspicious enough that the NBA would drop a fine on him.

Either way, Allen sold the call beautifully, and the play was upgraded to a flagarant one foul, which gave the Grizzlies two free throws and possession of the ball. That play helped his team get even with the Spurs and send the game to overtime, but they just weren’t able to finish off the game and come away with a victory.

At the end of the day, people will call NBA players cheaters for how they flop, but that’s just a wrong way to view it.

Next time you see an NBA player flop, go through your initial anger of the fact that they fooled the referees, but give them the credit where it is due. They are just trying to exaggerate the contact to make the refs blow their whistle, and it is something that every NBA player does at some point.

Every single player.

NBA referees should work on better evaluating these game-time flops, but a player definitely should not be fined for doing so. Flopping will always be a part of the NBA, and referees should work on just going with no-calls instead of rewarding a flopper.

And if they do, good for the flopper. He fooled an NBA referee into giving him the call.

Just go out there and compete, and help your team win.