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NBA Institutes "No Flopping" Rule

Players to be fined $30,000 or more for faking-out officials


Updated October 05, 2012
The National Basketball Association is taking new measures to prevent "flopping," the league announced this week.

Questionable plays will be reviewed by the league office. For a first offense, the flopper will get a warning. The second will carry a $5,000 fine, a penalty which escalates to $10,000 for the third offense, $15,000 for the fourth and $30,000 for the fifth. Further offenses may draw additional fines and/or suspension.

Flopping, for the uninitiated, is a catch-all phrase that describes any action intended to trick the referees into calling an unwarranted foul. We see it most often from defenders trying to draw an offensive foul in the paint or against a player posting up; the offensive player initiates the slightest contact, and the defender goes flying as if he's been hit by a cement mixer.

It is very difficult for referees to call flops in real time - which is the main reason it happens. Very often, referees will make calls based on the obvious effect - a player hitting the floor - without being able to pinpoint the cause. But there are differences of degree. Many players will exaggerate the effect of a legit foul - commonly referred to as "selling" the foul - to ensure that it does not escape the referee's notice.

Will it work? Hard to say. The fines aren't going to be much of a disincentive; $5,000 is tip money for most NBA stars. The policy might have more teeth if any after-the-fact flop calls also counted as technical fouls on each player's season tally. Players are suspended for one game after their 16th tech in a season, and an additional game for every other technical after that.

That said, it's possible that, once players are publicly outed as floppers by the league office, they'll have a harder time drawing the calls. The best defense against flopping is to take away the incentive.

Of course, there are other, less-civilized defenses. During the London Olympics, Nic Batum of Team France obviously and intentionally punched Spain's Juan Carlos Navarro in the groin; a most ungentlemanly play. When asked why, Batum told reporters, "I wanted to give him a good reason to flop."

The NBA's Biggest Floppers

Many blame the increased prevalence of flopping in the NBA on the influx of players from the European leagues. (European soccer is notoriously plagued by flopping as well.) Ex-Laker and Sacramento King great Vlade Divac was a master of the well-timed flop to draw a foul on a bigger, stronger opponent.

Many NBA rules are known for the player that inspired them. Exceptions to the salary cap are named after Larry Bird, the prohibition on hand-checking on the perimeter is often called the "Derek Harper Rule," and one that says there must be at least .03 on the clock for a team to take a shot is the "Trent Tucker Rule." If the anti-flopping rule gets a player's name, Divac should have the somewhat-dubious honor.

Miami forward Shane Battier and Spurs guard/forward Manu Ginobili are generally considered to be two of the biggest floppers in the game today.

Joe Johnson of the Nets told the New York Daily News that he "worked on his flop game," but gave up when he realized he was a terrible actor.

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