Just Fining a Flop: The Real Flop of the NBA‏

The prestige and buzz that follows any win in an NBA game is what makes every player give their absolute maximum on and off the court in order to achieve as much success as possible. However, it is inevitable that quest for victory will always result in some more dubious techniques, and in recent years the main one that has emerged is probably the most undesirable one:

Flopping. “Any physical act that appears to have been intended to cause the referees to call a foul on another player.”

At first, it seemed the NBA seemed powerless against these players who would fake an inflicted foul, tricking the referees into giving them an advantage. After all, the referee’s word is final, and however obvious it may seem to the rest of the arena (and the thousand watching at home) that a player has flopped, referees don’t have the broad camera view that we have. Therefore, the NBA figured the best way to sanction flopping was by punishing the offender after the game…

And somehow, at the start of the 2012-2013 season, Stu Jackson, Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations, along with the rest of the NBA officials, concluded that the best way to threaten player is to fine them sums of money that in proportion to the player’s salary is back pocket change. The current sanctions for flopping are as follows:

Violation 1: Warning
Violation 2: $5,000 fine
Violation 3: $10,000 fine
Violation 4: $15,000 fine
Violation 5: $30,000 fine

Let me put that into context with what a basketball player earns, and how much he has to pay if he is found guilty of a flop: For example, James Harden was one of many who received a $5,000 fine this year for flopping, whilst, excluding endorsements, he earned nearly $14 million. That, for the less mathematical ones, is 0.036% of his salary. So the question is: How can the NBA possibly believe that threatening millionaires with $5,000 fines is going to erase flopping from basketball?

In addition to this, the sad truth is that flopping can potentially be the cruel difference between a win or a loss. This just exacerbates the lack of importance that a player will accord to such small fines, who’s main priority is winning, not losing 0.036% of his salary.

This leads to one clear solution, so clear that it is hard to imagine that the NBA has not yet applied it: Suspensions. To stamp out flopping, we need to hit hard, and threaten the players with something that actually means something to them. The one thing NBA players quite evidently care the most about is playing basketball in an arena packed full of fans. One game suspensions already apply to very violent acts (eg. Mario Chalmers was suspended for throwing an elbow and Nowitzki in November) and for too many technical fouls (eg. Blake Griffin was suspended for reaching the sad total of 16 technical fouls in one season). So why, then, are there not suspensions for flopping?

Instead of a futile warning for first offence, the player should be fined $5000, because although a fine is just as futile, it will attract unpleasant attention to that player, who will want to avoid flopping again due to the bad publicity he is receiving. But then, a second violation would result in game suspension, a third in a two game suspension etc. Until one day, repeated offender such as Lance Stephenson, Lebron James and Blake Griffin will be fed up of sitting out of matches. Also, stars will have more incentive to not flop because fans will be angry if a key player misses a game, whereas right now your average fan couldn’t give two hoots if their idol is being fined $5,000, or $30,000 for that matter.

It’s time for the NBA to put up a real barrier against flopping, not just a meaningless and futile threat in the form of an insignificant fine. The game of basketball, among many others, will only decrease in popularity and beauty if flopping continues to invade it. Stop it now, avoid extreme problems later on. And to stop it, suspensions are the only reasonable option.


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