This year’s NBA playoffs have been one of the most entertaining in recent memory. Every round has had spectacular matchups and for once the performances have lived up to the hype. But there is one dark cloud that seems to hang over every single game: flopping. At least a few times a game you see a player get slightly brushed by another as he drives to the hoop and fly halfway across the floor as if he’s been shot. It used to be flopping was a European trait, made popular by Vlade Divac who might be considered the king of the flop (and at 7 feet looked ridiculous floundering about while being hit by a much smaller man).
Since players have recognized that a good flop can get you a couple free throw attempts, everyone is doing it, to the detriment of the game. A great example is James Harden’s flop against the Mavericks in the Conference Finals. As you see Harden writhing on the floor in pain, you can’t help but to shake your head in disbelief. This acting job led to Tyson Chandler receiving a technical foul (which was later rescinded in a review by the league) and being benched while he was having a good game. The momentum of the game was changed and even though it was only the third quarter, the Mavericks were forced to sit one of their key defensive players due to foul trouble.
In the Finals, we’ve seen LeBron James fly around the floor a few times and get flop calls. Perhaps if young Mister James would expend that energy in the fourth quarter he wouldn’t be heading back to Miami with Dallas in the lead three games to two. In this particular clip, not only is Brendan Haywood charged with a foul but Rick Carlisle is charged with a technical foul for daring contest the call. This all lead to three free throw attempts for Miami in a game Dallas ultimately won by a slim margin of three points.
In the incident with James Harden, the league was able to review the call and rescind the foul given to Tyson Chandler (which is important because if a player accumulates seven technical fouls in the playoffs they are suspended for a game) however Harden walked away untouched. That needs to change. If the league can review plays and essentially correct the call, they need to also assess a penalty to the player that flopped. Every time a foul is called on a flop, there is a stoppage of play and the game is changed. The league can’t afford for a game to be decided by a flop, and we’re getting dangerously close to that being a reality. In a league where superstars get favorable calls, you can’t have your marquee player using these tactics to get calls. Flopping cheapens the game and these players are better than that. I hope the league realizes it before it’s too late.