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NBA formally announces new flopping rule

By Matt Moore | NBA writer

The NBA announced its new rule to punish and prevent flopping on Wednesday. Ken Berger of CBSSports.com had reported after the NBA's competition comittee meeting that the league was set to implement a new rule which featured video review after the game to establish fines and/or punishment. Berger related the potential problems with the policy in the link above.

From the NBA's press release:

The NBA will adopt an anti-flopping rule beginning with the 2012-13 season, Executive Vice President, Basketball Operations Stu Jackson announced today.

“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," Jackson said. "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.”

“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.

Physical acts that constitute legitimate basketball plays (such as moving to a spot in order to draw an offensive foul) and minor physical reactions to contact will not be treated as flops.

Any player who is determined to have committed a flop during the regular season will be 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

If a player violates the anti-flopping rule six times or more, he will be subject to discipline that is reasonable under the circumstances, including an increased fine and/or suspension.

The league will announce at a later date a separate set of penalties for flopping that will apply during the playoffs.

The league office informed CBSSports.com Wednesday that if a player commits multiple infractions of the rule in his first game, he must receive the warning before any subsequent violations can be established. So, if a player flops three times in his first game, the NBA will only issue the warning for that game.

The NBA also stated that after the warning is issued, all subsequent violations are subject to discipline. So if a player flops three times in the first game, just the warning, no fines. If in his second game, he then flops twice, that's $15,000 out of his pocket. Theoretically, the player could be fined an indefinite amount for multiple violations in one game.

Some thoughts:

  • The league did a good job with establishing that this isn't an offensive or defensive move. It's not specifically "falling to the ground taking a charge" or "flailing on a shot attempt." It leaves itself open to interpretation, which in this case is a really good thing because so much of the time flopping is one of those things where "you know what it is when you see it."
  • The first person to be suspended for flopping will live in infamy.
  • Fining the players is the best way to make it stop, because hitting them in their wallets is always the most effective approach. But, at the same time, it very much means that the NBPA will likely be watching this super-closely and be ready to object or file suit if they feel the fines are being levied unfairly. The league has to be careful with how much they use the punishment, here.
  • It's good that they stipulated that actual basketball plays are still legal. So, it's fine for a player to slide in front of a player driving and take the charge, and even for him to fall over if the player knocks him over. But if the player starts to fall backwards before, there's going to be a punishment. That seems fair.
  • How they legislate pump-fake foul-draws is going to be very interesting. There are a number of players, Kevin Durant, Paul Pierce, Kevin Martin to name just three, who use those flails as a huge part of their offense. This rule helps the defender if it's legislated fairly.
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