New NBA procedure to penalize flopping: Can it be effective?

News broke yesterday out of the NBA referee camp that a new measure to fine players for flopping based on post-game review is expected to be initiated in the upcoming season. In his recent post on the matter, Ken Berger raises some important concerns, among hem:

[T]he new approach — if adopted — could open up a whole new can of worms in a sports environment that clearly does not tolerate officiating incompetence. Suppose LeBron James drives to the basket on the final possession of a playoff game, with the Miami Heat trailing by a point. He misses the shot, but dupes the official into calling a shooting foul by flopping. James sinks both free throws, the Heat win the game and advance to the next round. But what happens when the league fines James $25,000 the next morning for flopping on the play? What the league would be saying, essentially, is that James shouldn’t have been awarded free throws and the Heat shouldn’t have won. Chaos, would ensue, as it often does with these controversies — be it a disputed Hail Mary in the end zone or a superstar call late in an NBA game.

Many trepidations such as this point to what could be a rocky start for the NBA’s first attempt to address what fans have long agonized over as one of the most frustrating problems with today’s game. But even if that is the case, in the larger picture it is difficult not to see this as at least being the first step in the right direction.

For one thing, a longstanding gripe among NBA aficionados (not to mention fans of other sports as well) has been that the league is unresponsive to their concerns. If they do choose to implement anti-flopping measures it will be Exhibit A in the case that fans are actually getting their voices heard and their legitimate complaints addressed. In a largely “You’ll get what we sell you” sports world, this is actually a fairly big deal.

Beyond that, in terms of the quality of the basketball games themselves, this could represent somewhat of a genuine paradigm shift. Granted, it would be naive to imagine that star treatment and other imbalances in officiating will be disappearing anytime soon.

But if the NBA officially recognizes flopping as a problem which needs to be solved, it changes the entire conversation from “Do we need to address flopping?” to “How do we address flopping?” As such, even if the current policy under consideration is ineffective, it will have officially set the new precedent that the NBA needs to do something to reduce flopping in order to improve the quality of basketball being played and the enjoyment of the fans watching the game.

Berger may well be right about the limitations of the measure currently under consideration. But even if that casts a shadow over the effectiveness of the new rule, NBA fans should still welcome the newly born official anti-flopping stance of the NBA.

Unless, perhaps, they’re Spurs or Clippers or Heat fans. In which case, tough cookies.

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Joel is a long time Denver Nuggets (and Broncos) fan from Colorado who's been living in Japan since the mid-90s, and blogging about the Nuggets since 2008. You can contact and follow him on Twitter: @denbutsu.
  • joe

    I’d prefer an in game technical for flops but at least this is a step in the right direction. Not good news for Chris Paul’s wallet

  • Ryan

    Ginobili will OWE money by the end of the season lol…

  • ryanvdonk

    blake griffin will be more broke than mc hammer

  • jake

    Next can be reinstating the travel violation??!! Blake Griffin is gonna need to spend a lot of time with Hakeem Olajuwan… his game is like that of neanderthal.

  • pizanoj

    The entire San Antonio Spurs will have to forfeit every other game check.

  • Mike

    It depends on what they call a FLOP. Ginobili actually VERY infrequently flops to deceive refs (if ever). He often exaggerates a foul especially on offense when his defender attempts to play him physically, but almost every time it is a legitimate foul. This is a similar thing to what Kobe, Chris Paul and Chauncey do. Chauncey is slightly more subtle, but not too much. Why does it matter that Ginobili goes to the ground rather than flail and scream at the top of his lungs with obscenities? On defense Ginobili usually only goes to the ground on moving picks and offensive fouls where he establishes position against the man he is guarding. Players HAVE to go to the ground to get refs to call these types of offensive fouls unless the offensive player throws an elbow or clearly pushes off with his hands.

    I would suspect he will get less than 3 flop fines the whole season if they don’t call legitimate fouls that are exaggerated by going to the ground flops. I assume the rule was set up for guys like raja bell, reggie evans and derek fisher who will initiate contact or play very aggressively and then after 2-3 times of ref not calling it the opponent pushes back and they fall to the ground. This is what I would call deceiving the refs as opposed to accentuating a foul to call attention to it.

    To be honest I wish they would have made an effort to call the game more uniformly about physical play. Ron artest plays a style where you could call a foul practically every play on him yet he didn’t get close to fouling out against Durant and OKC. Durant in the Finals was taken out of 2-3 games because they called ticky tack or no calls on him a few times per game.

  • Chuck

    How about giving the flopper 1 or 2 fouls to start the next game along with the fine.

  • Aaron

    Poor Clippers, Might Be Difficult To Make it To The Playoffs Now!

  • Jeff

    They should just tell the refs to not call a foul just for falling down…. what’s so hard about that?