Wednesday, October 3, 2012
NBA to crack down on flopping
ESPN.com news services
The NBA will penalize floppers this season, fining players for repeated violations of an act a league official said has "no place in our game."
Those exaggerated falls to the floor might fool the referees and fans during the game, but officials at league headquarters plan to take a look for themselves afterward.
Players will get a warning the first time, then be fined $5,000 for a second violation. The fines increase to $10,000 for a third offense, $15,000 for a fourth and $30,000 for the fifth. Six or more could lead to a suspension.
"Flops have no place in our game -- they either fool referees into calling undeserved fouls or fool fans into thinking the referees missed a foul call," vice president of basketball operations Stu Jackson said in a statement. "Accordingly, both the Board of Governors and the competition committee felt strongly that any player who the league determines, following video review, to have committed a flop should -- after a warning -- be given an automatic penalty."
Hours after the league announced the new penalties, the National Basketball Players Association said it planned to file a grievance with the NBA and an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board.
"The NBA is not permitted to unilaterally impose new economic discipline against the players without first bargaining with the union," NBPA executive director Billy Hunter said in a statement. "We believe that any monetary penalty for an act of this type is inappropriate and without precedent in our sport or any other sport.
"We will bring appropriate legal action to challenge what is clearly a vague and arbitrary overreaction and overreach by the Commissioner's office."
Sources with knowledge of the talks told ESPN.com that the union and the league have discussed flopping several times, and agree generally that flopping ought to be punished. Where they differ is in the structure of the program and the size of the punishments, which the union sees as harsh.
The NBA does not expect the union's legal challenges to have a big effect on the anti-flopping program.
"Although we haven't seen any filing from the Players' Association," league spokesman Tim Frank said, "our adoption of an anti-flopping rule is fully consistent with our rights and obligations under the collective bargaining agreement and the law."
Despite the union's plans, several high-profile players voiced their support of the new rule.
Lakers star Kobe Bryant said he hopes it has an impact on the game.
"I like the rule," he said. "Shameless flopping, that's a chump move. We're familiar with it. Vlade (Divac) kind of pioneered it in that playoff series against Shaq, and it kind of worked for him."
Players cautioned it would be difficult to completely eliminate flopping but welcomed the attempt to try.
"It's good. Guys can't be flopping and get away with it anymore," Oklahoma City guard James Harden said. "It was bound to happen at some point. Obviously, the league got fed up with it and they put it in. I'm happy they did."
"I think guys will still play the game the way they're accustomed to playing it," New York Knicks forward Amare Stoudemire told ESPNNewYork.com. "But we do want to have a clean game when you play basketball."
Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin has been accused of flopping by opponents but didn't think the rule necessarily applied to him or the Clippers.
"I guess it's good in the sense that it stops any of that from happening, but at the same time, you're telling me if it's Game 7 of the NBA Finals and a guy has a chance to make a play, he's going to be like, 'Well, do I want this $10,000 or do I want a championship?' Do you know what I mean?" Griffin said. "It's one of those things that's after the fact and not going to win or lose games for anybody."
The NBA said flopping will be 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 league said.
Commissioner David Stern long has sought to end flopping, believing it tricks the referees. But the league determined it would be too difficult for refs to make the call on the floor, preferring instead to leave it to league office reviews.
Jackson's department already reviews flagrant-foul penalties to determine whether they should be upgraded or downgraded.
"I'm all on board for it," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "I think it needs to be addressed. I think the steps they're taking right now, I think will benefit the game. I do. It remains to be seen if it truly has an impact. But I think it's a step in the right direction.
"It's not good for the game; nobody likes the flop. A majority of coaches don't like the flop, particularly if you're trying to build a solid defense."
Rasheed Wallace raged against it for years, picking up quite a few of his 308 technical fouls for arguing when he thought he was called for a foul because a player flopped. After ending a two-year retirement to join the New York Knicks, he said certain unnamed players were going to be in trouble and agreed penalties need to be enforced.
"Hey, you all thought I was crazy for saying it over the last so-and-so years. I ain't even gonna get into it, but yes," he said. "They needed to bend on that."
The blame for the rise in flopping is often aimed at the international players, such as Divac, who came to the NBA after growing up watching soccer, in which falling down in hopes of drawing a foul is part of the game. Denver's Danilo Gallinari, an Italian, believes that's unfair.
"I don't know why everybody just talks about European flopping," he said. "I don't know where this thing comes from. We flop as much as other players all around the world flop. I don't know why everybody keeps saying that Europeans are soft or Europeans flop. I don't know."
Cleveland's Anderson Varejao is a renowned flopper, once one of the targets of Wallace's wrath. But he said he's a changed man now.
"I'm not flopping anymore," he said Monday with a smile. "I used to flop a little bit."
The league said it will announce a separate set of flopping penalties for the playoffs at a later date.
Information from TrueHoop's Henry Abbott, ESPNLosAngeles.com's Arash Markazi and The Associated Press was used in this report.