Sports take: To flop or not to flop?

By Ryan Daugherty

The National Basketball Association has been maybe the most criticized league in sports over the past decade. From officiating, referee scandals, biased treatment to even the financial aspects, the league is somewhat of a joke.

For a while now, players have brought a new technique to the game: flopping. Flopping is defined as an intentional fall by a player after little or no physical contact by an opposing player in order to draw a personal foul call by an official against the opponent.

Now every single player in the NBA exaggerates to sell calls, but that is a part of the game. However, when players make it seem like they got shot after a little bit of contact has been made, it gets ridiculous.

On one hand, flopping is smart because officials can’t see every little detail of a play, so more often than not, a foul will wrongfully get called.

On the other hand, it ruins the game of basketball to the point that some fans just want to change the channel. This is the NBA, not the Oscars.

After a playoff game in 2012 between the Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers, Pacers head coach Frank Vogel complained about the Heat’s tendency to flop. This caused NBA Commissioner David Stern to voice his own opinion about flopping. Stern said that flopping was “only designed to fool the referee” and was “not a legitimate play”.

These comments by Stern, while true, are extremely laughable considering he has done very little about flopping up until this past season where it was ruled that fines would be handed out for it. In fact while flopping has been around for quite a while, Brooklyn Nets forward Reggie Evans became the first NBA player to get fined for flopping on November 21, 2012.

The anti-flopping rules were made prior to the 2012 season. For the first flop, players only get a warning, for the second flop, players get a $5,000 fine and for flops the third time or more, players could get fined up to a maximum of $30,000.

There are two huge problems with these rules. The first is the fact that $30,000 is pocket change for many NBA players. The second problem is the fact that suspensions can only be handed out after the sixth flop.

Suspensions have now been brought up for this year’s postseason, but they are only a possibility and they can only be discussed after the fifth flop. The fact that the NBA thinks that letting these players flop throughout games for small fines and even smaller chances for suspensions makes me not want to watch the sport anymore.

I have watched many of the playoff games this season so far, and while I do see less flopping than I saw a few years ago, I still see players flop left and right as if they could care less about the new rules.

Another way this negatively affects basketball is that players aren’t able to defend consistently. How is a player supposed to play defense if the man he is guarding decides to throw himself to the ground after minimal contact? Not only that, but the flopper usually gets the call.

Some of the league’s top floppers are stars, which to me explains why very little is done to stop the outrageous acting. These include Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin, San Antonio Spurs guard Manu Ginobili, Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade and even Miami Heat forward LeBron James, who most people would agree has been the face of the NBA for quite some time now.

Out of all these players, only Chris Paul has been warned by the NBA for flopping and that was only a slap on the wrist.

Ultimately, my question for Stern is: why can’t the league take stronger actions against flopping? Giving players a pass on one flop and then small fines on others after isn’t going to solve the problem. Handing out suspensions after the fifth or sixth flop is ridiculous, especially when the rules state that a suspension may not even be handed out at that point.

Officials need to eject players from games the moment they see flops and the NBA needs to take further action by suspending them as well. Until then, the NBA will be known for its actors, not it’s basketball players.