The NBA Hoists an Airball with Flopping Policy

The script is so tired by now I almost could've predicted this word-for-word. There are a few rather unsightly blemishes in what NBA basketball has evolved into. Never mind guns in the locker room, fistfights with fans, or even assholian photo-shoots. There are some things happening on the court, during play, every night and every game that flat-out stink and serve no other purpose than to bastardize the league that I used to respect.

Every now and then, when some of these things get too obvious for the league to ignore, they meet over the summer and draw up an official release and leak to the media that these very bad things will no longer be tolerated. Then they presumably get sauced together while they laugh themselves silly.

Most recently is was the gratuitous on-court complaining about officiating. The "crackdown" lasted a couple months until technical fouls and subsequent suspensions mounted to an unprecedented level and the media backlash caused the initiative to be quickly buried. Players are back to bitching about everything, more than ever.

A few years earlier it was the "crackdown" on palming the ball, a rule which has been so egregiously ignored since the Jordan years that it is now, by all counts, impossible to regulate. A couple random palming violations were called, but everyone quickly went back to forgetting that the rule existed.

Now the league office has set it's sights on flopping. Pardon my facepalm.

Here's the meaty part of today's official release from the NBA. You can read the whole farce here.

"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.

So to quickly recap, the league has finally officially recognized flopping, and...what? Is it a rule? A foul? A violation? No. It's a fine, and nothing but. The league will determine when a flop occurred, retroactively, and fine the offenders accordingly. Unless it's only their first violation, of course. Then they get a warning.

There are no in-game consequences for flopping, which is curious to me, since flopping can change the course of the game, which I thought was why we were cracking down on it in the first place, no? Pardon me to hypothesize for a moment, but even in the 4th quarter of game 7 of the Finals, there are no potential consequences within that game if a player egregiously flops. None. Just like before.

Even the league's definition of a flop apparently serves only to provide wiggle-room for when people start noticing that players are still flopping as much as ever. My personal favorite part:

minor physical reactions to contact will not be treated as flops.

Since the definition of minor as opposed to major surely would change from one person to the next, shouldn't the context be whether or not it drew a whistle? As every basketball fan has seen, even a slight jerk of Manu's bald head can be enough to fool the officials and in turn, alter the course of the game. Would that be too "minor" to be considered a flop? And what happens to players who violate the rule for the sixth time? Dig on this:

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.

My bureaucratic bullshit-o-meter just erupted in flames. Never mind the league blatantly insulting our intelligence by insinuating that six flops would be an excessive violation (that's one quarter's worth, folks). We are given no clear explanation of what happens if players refuse to comply after five violations. Maybe because no player is going to actually receive five violations? This is how you word a rule when you have no intention of enforcing it.

Since I don't believe in criticism without a half-decent suggestion, here's what I would do. It's quite simple.

A flop is a technical foul. Two in one game and you're done. Case freakin' closed.

The NBA had an opportunity here to make a positive difference on the floor. Instead they insulted the referees by taking the issue completely out of their hands and they insulted the fans by dreaming up the most marshmallow-soft resolution they could. This one has Billy Hunter's stink all over it.

The statements, rants, opinions and accusations expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of RMason. You'll never take him alive.