The NBA defines “flopping” as any physical act that appears to have been intended to cause the referees to call a foul on another player. For years, the NBA frowned upon the practice but was unable to do anything official to curb it. Beginning the 2012-2013 season, however, the league began regulating flopping through the institution of some new rules.
Based on the NBA’s flopping guidelines, the primary consideration for calling a flop lies in the determination of how consistent a player’s physical reaction is to contact with another player, given the force and direction of the contact. Any player found to have committed a flop during the regular season is subject to the following:
Violation 1: warning
Violation 2: $5,000 fine
Violation 3: $10,000 fine
Violation 4: $15,000 fine
Violation 5: $30,000 fine
For the playoffs, the flopping penalties increase:
Violation 1: $5,000 fine
Violation 2: $10,000 fine
Violation 3: $15,000 fine
Violation 4: $30,000 fine
Violation 5: $30,000 fine + possible suspension
The first ever fine for flopping was handed out to Brooklyn’s Reggie Evans on November 21, 2012, and since then at least fifteen fines for flopping have been handed out by the NBA.
Have the new rules been effective in curbing flopping? The data, which shows that the pace of violations has slowed, seem to indicate so. Nevertheless, there have also been observations that even the maximum fine of $30,000 won’t really mean much to the NBA’s richest players.
Perhaps taking a look at the salaries of the league’s most infamous floppers can provide a better perspective on the topic. Here are the ten most valuable floppers in the NBA today:
10. Derek Fisher (Oklahoma City Thunder) – Salary: $1,399,507
Vlade Divac, who in his time was considered “the father of flopping”, once said of Derek Fisher, “I think he does a better job of that [flopping] than I do.” Fisher’s peers seem to agree that he is quite the proficient flopper, too, as 6% of the NBA players surveyed in 2011 named him the greatest flopper in the game.
The league has officially cited Fisher for flopping once. It happened during Game 5 of the OKC-Houston series in the first round of the 2013 NBA Playoffs. Houston’s Omer Asik (supposedly) barreled into OKC’s Fisher and Kevin Martin, causing the two to fall in perfect synchronization. Strangely, Martin wasn’t cited for flopping. If he had, it would’ve been the first official double-flop in the history of the NBA.
9. Shane Battier (Miami Heat) – Salary: $3,270,000
When the NBA announced its new guidelines against flopping, almost everyone agreed wholeheartedly with the move. But not Miami Heat’s Shane Battier. He explained his position lengthily:
There’s a myriad of issues where you could dissect this proposed rule. There’s not a consensus on what a flop is. How much force constitutes a flop? Is a basketball person making that decision? Is an administrative person making that decision? How much is the fine going to be?
The unfortunate thing about the block/charge [distinction] is that I’ve had many, many times where a ref told me that you have to go to the floor to get the call. By the letter of the law, I’ve taken a hit, but I’ve stood on my feet. Even though I’ve gotten nailed, the ref calls it a no-call. I say, “Ref, what’s wrong with that [charge]?” He says, “You have to go down to get the call.”
So a ref told Battier that he has to flop to get a call? Well, it seems that he took the advice to heart. The Miami Heat forward came in sixth in a 2011 poll that asked NBA players who was the greatest flopper in the league.
8. J.J. Barea (Minnesota Timberwolves) – Salary: $4,687,000
Minnesota’s J.J. Barea, who was once chosen by his peers as the ninth-greatest flopper in the league, is also one of the NBA’s first official floppers. He and Cleveland’s Donald Sloan were the first in the league to be cited for flops in games played on November 2, 2012. That warning for Barea turned into a $5,000 fine when he was found to have flopped in a game against Dallas on January 14, 2013.
Barea claims to be unfazed. He said, “They’ve got to put in new rules every year, so that’s their job. I’m going to play the same way since I was a kid, so whatever happens, happens.”
7. Kevin Martin (Minnesota Timberwolves) – Salary: $6,500,000
In a game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Detroit Pistons on November 12, 2012, Kevin Martin jumped to take a three-pointer. As he did, Jonas Jerebko extended his hand to try and defend the shot. To Jerebko’s surprise, Martin collapsed to the ground and began to writhe in pain. A referee then called a foul against Jerebko, resulting in three free throws, all of which Martin converted. The NBA saw the incident and warned Martin for flopping.
It seems that he didn’t heed the warning, though. In a game against the Nuggets, he flopped again, screaming and falling after taking a shot even though his defender, Andre Miller, was nowhere close to touching him. The referees didn’t bite this time, and Kevin Martin was fined $5,000 by the league.
Incidents like this have caused players to rank Martin the fifth-greatest flopper in the league.
6. Manu Ginobili (San Antonio Spurs) – Salary: $7,500,000
Argentinian Manu Ginobili is known as one of the premier floppers in the league, his head whiplashing with even the smallest amount of contact with other players. In fact, 18% of players surveyed in 2011 chose him as the greatest flopper in the NBA. What differentiates Manu from other floppers in the game, however, is that he hasn’t been officially cited by the league for flopping so far. Perhaps that makes Ginobili one of the best floppers of all.
5. Anderson Varejao (Cleveland Cavaliers) – Salary: $9,036,364
Anderson Varejao has never been one of the biggest superstars in the NBA, and yet, 22% of NBA players surveyed in 2011 chose him as the greatest flopper in the league, ranking him first among all players. That must mean he flops pretty often. And pretty well.
At least Anderson admits that he flops. Somewhat. When asked about it, he replied, “I’m not flopping anymore. I used to flop a little bit.”
Well, that little bit caused him to be warned for flopping in a game against Philadelphia last November. While battling for rebounding position, Lavoy Allen ever-so-slightly nudged Varejao, and that sent the Cleveland center flying to the ground, arms-a-flailing. In fairness to Varejao, his wild hair might draw attention away from any contact other players make with him. Or maybe not.
4. Paul Pierce (Brooklyn Nets) – Salary: $15,333,334
Paul Pierce was involved in perhaps the most infamous alleged acting incident in NBA history. During Game 1 of the 2008 NBA Finals between the Boston Celtics and the LA Lakers, with a little less than 7 minutes remaining in the third quarter, Pierce was sideswiped by a teammate and fell to the floor. Writhing in pain with his face crumpled in agony, Pierce had to be brought out in a wheelchair, and everyone feared the worst. However, a few minutes later, Pierce miraculously came back to the game and played like a superstar. Boston, 1-0.
Explaining the incident, Pierce clarified that tests showed he had actually sprained his MCL. Nevertheless, most of the world still remembers the incident as an acting job, and each NBA fan’s memory is refreshed every time Pierce’s face automatically crumples up after he “comes into contact” with other players.
3. Chris Paul (LA Clippers) – Salary: $18,668,431
Chris Paul has compiled quite a body of work as a premier NBA flopper. Shaquille O’ Neal even highlighted one incident on his show “Shaqtin’ a Fool”. In a Clippers game versus Sacramento, the Kings get the ball, and everyone starts running down to the other side of the court. As Paul jogs back, he “runs into” the Kings’ DeMarcus Cousins, who is just casually walking back. Paul, however, laughably acts like he was hit by a truck.
In the current 2013-2014 season, Paul has already been warned by the league for flopping in a game against Minnesota on November 11. While being guarded by Ricky Rubio and trying to get to a pass by Blake Griffin, CP3 went down dramatically with no contact at all.
2. Dwyane Wade (Miami Heat) – Salary: $18,673,000
Miami Heat’s Dwyane Wade is such an iconic flopper that when the NBA wanted to demonstrate what flopping was, they used footage of Wade in their video. They chose well, as Wade has mastered the art of getting calls to go his way. More specifically, his technique involves going up for shots, contorting his body to make it appear that his defender has made contact with him, then screaming at refs to demand that a foul be called.
Unfortunately, his technique has worked many times. Far too many times.
1. Lebron James (Miami Heat) / Salary: $19,067,500
He isn’t called “LeFlop” for nothing. In fact, four-time NBA Most Valuable Player Lebron James has inspired one of the latest crazes to sweep the Internet. Called “LeBroning”, the trend began to spread through footage featuring ordinary people making minimal contact with passersby and falling to the floor with a thud.
The videos are hilarious. But many NBA players and fans aren’t amused by Lebron’s flopping. They believe that the best player in the league shouldn’t have to resort to flopping to gain an advantage. But maybe part of what makes James so great is his mastery of what it takes to flop without getting caught.
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