End flopping instantly

March, 21, 2012
3/21/12
1:11
PM ET
Abbott By Henry Abbott
ESPN.com
Archive
People have been talking about fixing flopping in the NBA for much of my adult life, and it generally goes like this: Somebody ought to watch that video, after the game and then punish the heck out of those floppers.

There's a certain logic to this. The NBA is home to some notorious floppers. We know from our own living rooms that sometimes, on video replay, flops are devastatingly obvious.

And it's always important, I think, for those enforcing the rules to have at least as much information as everyone at home, which is where the referees, without remote controls and high-definition replay, are at a real disadvantage.

But one little part of this drives me nuts. Why should we wait until after the game? If the end result is that somebody in New York has to see the video to make a final ruling -- as happens, for instance, in meting out punishments after fights -- why so slow?

The video in question is literally a few seconds long. Often we can see it at home three or four times in the minute after it happens. Surely somebody at the NBA's offices can see it from all kinds of angles in no time and issue a ruling before the final buzzer.

This is important, because as much as a technical foul or fine the next day might hurt a player in the pocketbook, a technical in that game helps to decide who wins. And ultimately, players are flopping to help their teams win. Instant-or-close justice changes the math, so that floppers might hurt their teams' chances.

If it's enforced the next day, a smart player might still win a playoff game with a clutch flop, which ought never happen. Review it as play rolls on, from the league offices, courtside, or somewhere else, and then make your ruling before the final horn.

A key: After the ruling, show the video to the whole arena. People hate the idea of secretive people who work for David Stern making game-changing decisions from afar. So, make it entirely transparent. Right there on your pretty in-arena video board, there's your flop. Here's your ruling. Shoot your free throw.

Of course, the best part of the whole deal would be the instant shame for whoever gets caught. It'd be bad for road players to be so busted, but I'd argue it would be even worse for the home players. Think about it! You're giving up a key free throw late because you were caught red-handed on video pulling some kind of soccer stunt?

Whether because of the free throws, or the shame, I'm confident this plan would pretty much eliminate flopping, without delaying games for video review, asking referees to do the impossible, or giving too much power to the league office.

Henry Abbott | email

TrueHoop, NBA

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