The Coefficient of Floppiness

Rmason eloquently stated his thoughts regarding the ridiculous new stance they NBA has taken on flopping. It was an excellent read you should certainly peruse, and it certainly got me thinking.

Aside from questioning whether NBA officials have ability to calculate the physics in order to determine the

mflop or “Coefficient of Floppiness”

my thoughts steer right to the heart of this issue – Is it necessary to actually set policy to stop flopping in the way the NBA has addressed the situation?

Certainly Rmason has provided a clear and concise analysis on how the NBA’s new policy will actually NOT accomplish the goal to stop flopping, a sentiment I agree with. However, the question in my mind is whether the NBA, from a league perspective, needs to implement any actual rule or policy change at all.

First of all, I am not sure the NBA can even do what they suggest without a fight from the NBAPA. From their press release:

NBPA Executive Director Billy Hunter stated that, "The NBA is not permitted to unilaterally impose new economic discipline against the players without first bargaining with the union. We believe that any monetary penalty for an act of this type is inappropriate and without precedent in our sport or any other sport. We will bring appropriate legal action to challenge what is clearly a vague and arbitrary overreaction and overreach by the Commissioner's office."

They have a point. The League cannot arbitrarily assign disciplinary action without first bargaining with the Union. Some might claim this is simply a rule change, as the NBA clearly came out and defined “Flopping” and the resulting consequence for the game-play violation.

Yet, the consequence for flopping states that any player who is determined to have committed a flop during the regular season will be subject to a series of financial penalties. This is not a rule change so much as it is a policy change within the leagues disciplinary system, despite the league’s best effort to define the art of the flop.

Basically what the league is doing here, is placing a penalty on flopping much like the penalty placed for technical accumulation, with one minor hitch. The hitch is, while technicals are an in-game violation, flopping will not be – meaning there will be no in-game determination of any potential flop and subsequently no direct stoppage of play or violation assessed for such actions. For example, let’s say an offensive foul is called on a play because of the antics of one Manu Ginobili [on defense], officials on the court will not determine the floppiness of the play, either at the time of the foul, or even seconds or minutes later when they see it on the screens and realize they have once again been duped. The incorrect foul stands and that player shoots and make the free throws. Nothing during the game will be determined in regards to the flop. That will be up to a five man panel consisting of Vlade Divac, Bill Laimbeer, Reggie Miller, Danny Ainge and Robert Horry. [OK, I made that last part up]. But truly, after the game, a penalty may be assigned to Manu [assuming by Stu Jackson]. Yet there will be no game consequence, as no plays will be altered or reversed [the incorrect call and resulting FT’s that were awarded].

Does this make any sense?

I understand what they are doing – they are trying to apply a negative consequence to a behavior they simply do not like – penalizing players in hopes that they will not flop. We all know that won’t work. Ginobili will find some company like Crocs to sponsor him and will place $150,000 into an escrow account so that he can flop away [and I believe based on the penalty structure, that will get him through at least 10 games].

The bottom line is that the league is using a disciplinary action to deter an in-game action, and that is not a rule change but a league policy regarding discipline, which must be bargained.

So, with the real inevitability that this “policy” won’t stick, all that is left is the question about what the NBA can REALLY do about flopping.

If they cannot change policies, then they can change the rules. Yet this is problematic as well. For changing the rules must be voted on, and I don’t see a rule being crafted that will have any actual positive effect on the game. Sure, we all want the flopping to stop, but it is such a subjective action, it requires reviewing game film to determine whether a flop occurred or not [which is basically what the NBA is going to do with this policy]. You certainly cannot do this in a game, as the review process is worse than the actual flop. The net result here is that creating ANY rule or policy against the flop is pointless.

BUT, this can be solved easily. Rmason was on to something when he suggested using the technical. But doing so requires the NBA to create a rule that allows officials to call a technical for non or minimal-contact “acting”, which brings us back to the problems or rule creating.

The easy solution is to go back to the basics, the fundamentals. You don’t have to create new rules or a system of penalties. The consequence for flopping shouldn't be days later, it should be immediate and have an effect on the game.

And the fact is, the current rules ALREADY deal with flopping.

Simply put, if officials just call fouls as they are defined in the rulebook, flopping would not be a problem. For a flop is not a foul, and should not be regarded as such. If a player falls with minimal or no contact, ignore him. Don’t call a foul in any direction.

You probably are saying, “duh, dipstick, but refs are baited into calling fouls by excellent actors and those players shouldn't get the benefit of such a crappy call.”


Which is why it takes training and educating your officials, and penalizing them for their stupid calls.

When it comes right down to it, the NBA needs to penalize someone, but it shouldn't be the players. They should penalize the officials for not understanding the game and making bad calls. And that is something they can institute immediately that will stick and without opposition form the NBAPA. And it is the only thing that will improve the game.

Shocker! Make the officials do a better job. It doesn't take a physicist for that!

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