Defending the flop revisited

“Some guys have been doing it for years, just trying to get an advantage.  Any way you can get an advantage over the opponent to help your team win, so be it.”

-LeBron James, in reference to flopping

My mom noticed an online article about “flopping” the other day.  She wasn’t familiar with the term and asked me what it meant, so here goes.

Dear, Mom.  “Flopping” is the intentional act of drawing contact in an effort to sway an official’s call in favor of the defensive player.  In that sense, it’s like a charge light, or rather a charge that wasn’t meant to be, until of course, the referee blows his whistle.

NBA flopping cartoon“Flopping” is a term that’s relatively new to the world of basketball, its actual origin unknown (most likely soccer).  It should be noted, however, that the act itself has been going on in the league for years.  These days, for some reason, we just happen to be exponentially more offended when it happens.

To the dismay of many a fan, flopping has gotten so out of hand in today’s NBA that last off-season, the commissioner’s office decided to levy fines against floppers for the first time in league history.  The league’s bold act would certainly put an end to such a heinous crime, right?


In the early part of the Indiana Pacers-Miami Heat Eastern Conference Finals, flopping has reached unprecedented heights.  In fact, LeBron James, David West and Lance Stephenson were all just fined $5,000 for their floptacity.  Or is it flopticiousness?

Now let’s get a few things straight.  While most fans can’t stand the flop, LeBron is 100% correct (see quote above).  Flopping is an effective strategy if a) said flopper convinces the referee to miss the call and b) that results in a change in possession.  NBA referees already have a tough enough job officiating contact.  Flopping ups the ante.

Chris Paul flopsFloppers get a bad rap, as if they’re cheaters.  They’re not.  They’re just bending the rules in their favor.  Let not revisionist history blind our judgment.  There are plenty of “floppers” already enshrined in the Hall of Fame.  Reggie Miller was one of the best around, soliciting contact to get a call when he could, all the while getting under his opponents’ skin.  That’s the point of the game, right?

In 2010, I wrote an article defending the flop.  I likened the act of ‘faking the foul’ to an infielder pretending to tag second base while turning a double play (when he hadn’t) or a catcher framing a pitch a strike when it was actually a ball.  Like the “flop,” both of these plays are intended to elicit a desired call from the umpire.  And they often work.  We laud a catcher for moving his mitt back into the strike zone yet lambast a defender in basketball for essentially doing the same thing.

When LeBron James was shoved by Bulls center Nazr Mohammed in the previous series, many, including Chicago’s head coach called LeBron a “flopper,” never mind the fact that a 6’10” player had just pushed him onto the parquet.  Whichever version you believe, flopping has become an inherent part of the game, a strategy, if you will.  Rest assured, a playoff loss far exceeds any measly, five thousand dollar fine.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a fan of the flop but I understand why athletes do it and I don’t cast judgment on those who attempt to do so to benefit their team.

For those of you who disagree, I wouldn’t worry too much about it.  In the end, basketball is a self-correcting sport.  Flops may fly in the early parts of a playoff series but when it comes down to defending the basket in crunch time, an athlete will instinctively rely on his ability to block, steal or defend in a manner that will not include feigning contact.

It’s only when those natural instincts change that we should all be concerned about the state of the game.

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44 Replies to “Defending the flop revisited”

  1. Pingback: Defending the flop revisited - BallHyped Blog Network, NBA | BallHyped Sports Blogs

  2. Once again Stern is total bullshit. A $5000 fine for a millionaire? That’s tip money. Want to end flopping? How about a 5 game suspension and a $500,000 fine. Think the boys will play fair then? Also, it would be good to fine those assholes for wearing those fake glasses. At the very least, a dope slap would do for a start.

  3. I am pretty sure I referred to King James as LeFlop a mere two weeks ago on one of these articles. Disgraceful for all of them to do it.

    I do disagree, it is a dishonest practice with the intent to deceive the refs. If I wanted to watch that crap I would watch European soccer.

    Here is LeFlop’s statement from a few weeks ago…“It’s kind of the same as when people said I was overrated, I have the same response,” James said. “I don’t need to flop. I play an aggressive game but I don’t flop. I’ve never been one of those guys. I don’t need to flop. I don’t even know how to do it. So it doesn’t mean much to me.”

    So he is pretty much a liar to boot. Cool videos below!!

  4. Floppers suck and they typically flop because they are losing the defensive battle and need the ref to step in and bail them out.

    Vlade was a premier flopper but no one ever calls him a premier defender. Likewise anyone worth their defensive salt wants nothing to do with being identified as a flopper.

    It’s a cowards rap. And certainly with all that we’ve seen previously of his lack of character, it’s no wonder Lebron is in favor.

    No true leader would make his statement above.

  5. Was it $5k or $35K the players were fined ? LOL,LOL !!! I`ve seen the same moves on DWTS or was it Dance Dance Revolution ?

    See my latest and let me know what you think also about Buckeyes` President E Gordon Gee railing on the SEC .

    tophatal ………

  6. D…

    As usual, I just wanted to generate a little conversation. I expected this sort of response.

    Let me ask you this. Do you see the similarity between a defensive player flopping and a catcher framing a pitch?

  7. Snake hits the nail on the head…

    $5,000 ain’t squat to someone pulling in $20,000,000.

    It’s be like $5-$10 to most of the country

  8. Tree…

    Don’t get me wrong. There’s a clear difference between flopping and playing defense… or is there?

    If flopping elicits a turnover, then essentially, it’s the same as a steal.

    I think you’re being a little hard on LeBron and the rest of the floppers in the league for that matter. If they get away with it, with the ref not making the proper call, they why wouldn’t they continue to do it? It’s a loophole.

    I put the responsibility of eliminating the flop squarely on the shoulders of the officials. Have them call it correctly, or heck, how about calling it a technical foul?

    You give one guy a tech, he might think twice of doing it again before being ejected.

  9. Al and Tree…

    My vote is for Snake as the next commissioner. That way we could all get free tickets to the games of our choice.

    Nah, that wouldn’t work. He’d rig games so that the Celtics would go 82-0.

    And I still think teeing up players for flopping is the way to go. No fines that come weeks down the road. Hit ’em up with a tech right then and there and put and end to it all.

    ‘Til then, flopping ain’t going anywhere.

  10. Defending the flop?
    Flop you.

    I see why they do it, but it’s pussy.
    I couldn’t stand when Vlade did it, but loved when Fisher got calls doing it…but it’s still pussy.

  11. …Just to be clear…

    I understand WHY pro players do it. If the zebras are gullable enough to call it and it gives them a possession (advantage), then it’s obviously stratigically beneficial. Win by any means necessary, right?

    However, being an avid pickup baller, try that shit in the gym where men make their own calls and you’ll wear out your welcome in a hurry.

    Like I said. It’s pussy.

  12. I like it.

    Give them a technical when it happens.

    They only get one and get tossed with the 2nd one.

    NBA basketball is a full contact sport, pretending not to be, where raw size and strength are the only real advantage a player survives with. We call it ‘making room in the paint’ but many inside guys list physical dominance of the opponent as a prized job skill set. And are rewarded thusly.

    On the other hand some smart ass ref now has the power to completely alter a game or series with a quick double flop call on someone.

    These NBA refs are already capricious enough calling numerous ‘air’ fouls on guys rushing 3 point shooters. Rarely a game goes by without one or more ticky tack calls being made on either side by refs who apparently have side bets in place on point spread.

    Not much any of us can do without becoming a ref and getting called out ourselves by the howling sports blogs of the world.

  13. Dope slap. Its giving a guy who is definitely a dope, a slap across his dopey mug so he’ll think about not doing some dopey shit. Like wearing nerd glasses when you don’t need them. Shit, even Kurt Rambis is wearing contacts. We folks who wear glasses aren’t doing it because we want to. Even $500 designer frames don’t look as good as wearing nothing.

  14. To a degree on framing a pitch, but those are not even the same thing…when a catcher makes ridiculous flailing motions while framing a pitch let me know.

    Look LeFlop is a poor sport, plain and simple. Didn’t he used to not shake hands when losing in the past? Probably still does it.

    LeFlop brings this stuff on himself with no help from anybody else. The incessant ” what who me look? ” when getting called for an obvious foul.

    I can’t remember ever seeing Bird, Magic, Jordan and others flopping around. If LeFlop did it every so often we would not be having countless articles written about the subject…people have taken notice and it is only going to tarnish his reputation (already in the gutter from the espn fiasco). He also plays with one of the dirtiest players in recent memory in Dwayne Wade so I am sure he is teaching LeFlop the ins and outs of classless play.

  15. Bleed…

    I’m only playing devil’s advocate here… and perhaps trying to stir things up a bit. I’ll never tell.

    There are clearly times when players flop. I get it.

    There are also times when players attempt to draw a charge, perhaps prematurely, and hit the floor prior to, or with limited contact.

    Again, this is the response I expected but I asked a question in the post I wrote three years ago.

    If you were on your beloved Lakers and you knew feigning the charge would elicit a call, would you do it?

    Easier said that done when officiating flops.

    Oh, and you show me a pick-up game where a defender calls a charge and I’ll show you a brawl about to happen.

  16. D…

    All I’m saying is the concept between the two is the same, which is trying to elicit a desired call from the official which is not the actual call.

    I’m going to stop defending LeBron to you at this point. It sounds to me like your mind is made up.

    You should know though that the kid is playing ridiculous basketball right now, will probably win another title this year, perhaps more in the future, and is far and away the best player in the game today.

    He’s already won four MVPs, will likely win at LEAST one more and will end up his career as one of the top ten basketball players of all time if he’s not there already.

    I’m just sayin’.

  17. Dude, don’t laugh at the way Kurt Rambis parts his hair. At least he still has hair. When was the last time you had the ability to part your hair? I part mine in the middle. Its a wide part. From ear to ear.

  18. Al…

    What’s your take on the way the current series is being officiated?

    LeBron got no calls in Game Six which leads me to believe we could be in for some make-up calls in Game Seven. You heard it here first.

  19. The emperor has no clothes. Also, no center or point guard or bench. Come late Monday night, I hope to be jumping for joy. By the way, a Spurs-Pacers Finals would be very exciting to watch. Don’t think about TV ratings. That doesn’t matter to a real fan of the game. Oh, one last thing. FUCK STERN!!! As for the officiating, the NBA has to be the worst of all the major professional sports. Now there’s an area that should be looked at for assessing fines for bad calls.

  20. Chris

    Calls or no calls , we all know that the NBA postseason is a crap shoot to begin with, wen it comes to the officiating . It as been that way for countless years , with Stern repeatedly standing behind some of the most inept officials in all of professional sports . And yet when there is the slightest opposition to the referees and their officiating , here is the commissioner slinging out fines as if he is handing out candy to little kids while at the same time reprimanding them . . So make of it what you will .

    The Heat are now officially one of the worst rebounding teams in the league during the playoffs , with just about everyone except LBJ as such, willing to crash the boards .


  21. Today, the NBA is almost as legitimate as professional wrestling. You’ve got to believe that the refs are betting the spread on games all the time. To me, its point shaving taken to a new level.

  22. Snake…

    You and I will be watching, as will most of the vagrants (and I love ’em) who comment on this site.

    It’s the fringe fan the the league worries about.

    San Antonio plays great ball and has done so for years but they don’t move the meter, at least not until Tony Parker started banging Eva Longoria. If the Finals consist of Indiana and San Antonio, David Stern may want to try to play matchmaker between the two to get them back together.

    I will say this though, those Hibbert comments are not a distraction that Indiana needs right now.

  23. Al…

    I disagree.

    If anything, the NBA Finals, with the exception of the year Dallas won, are as predictable as they come. So no official conspiracy theory would affect that.

    If, as many believe, the refs are in on it (which personally, I don’t), then the eventual outcome of the NBA Finals should be a forgone conclusion.

  24. Been meaning to say “Thanks” SC for defining the term & ‘splaining the latest sports rage ( double meaning?)dear SC.

    I am honored to inspire yet another great post. This was entertaining & very informative.

    Even the Sunday NY Times sports section copied the SC (on flopping) … U be da man!

  25. Chris

    You missed out the 2004 NBA Finals when the star laden Lakers were meant to dump on the Pistons .

    How often have we seen the inconsistency of the referees , repeatedly , during the NBA postseason with a number of players getting favorable calls for little more than an innocuous love tap ?

    tophatal ….

  26. NBA refs on the take for at least 20 years. It started back when they were cashing in their 1st class airline tickets for coach and pocketing the difference. The evil just spread from there. As for Roy Hibbert and his comments regarding the sports writers, he shouldn’t have called them motherfuckers even though they are. Of course he’s correct in his assessment of them. They spend all their time dreaming of blowing Lebron James and forget that there are hundreds of other players in the league. GO PACERS!!! FUCK STERN!!!

  27. Snake…

    If the refs are controlling the outcomes of the games, i.e. they’re predetermined, then why should we watch?

    And don’t you mean they spend all their time dreaming of blowing LeBron, no homo?

  28. Exactly, why do we watch? The whole culture of the NBA refs sucks, whether its double Ts (which don’t make any sense) or “make up calls”, they get it wrong too many times from my view. Also, I hate when those spineless network announcers always seem to back up the refs on whatever they do.

  29. Flopping is so much a part of basketball now that players are literally trying to be good at it. An athlete might not be able to drop 30 every night or dish out 10 a game, but if you could flop well, you might actually earn a spot in the bench. Going too far? Maybe, but that’s how much impact flopping has on the game now.

  30. I have not really had that much time to watch much sports over the past four days . My Mom was in town , so I had to do the usual things in the sort time (Bok Towers , Legoland , and a number of malls ) she was in town , before she returns back down to Ft Lauderdale and her ultimate return back to the UK .

    Tese Finals like I said , will turn on a number of issues . With the two games now split , one game apiece . The Finals now becomes a real series . Now it will come down to Popovich and Spoelstra, as this also becomes something of a chess match between the two .

    tophatal ………..

  31. BS…

    I still say if the league wants to get rid of it, call a tech on the guy who did it right then and there.

    That’s the only way to be sure.

  32. Al…

    I just feel that if the two teams play at their best, then Miami will win it.

    Nothing against the Spurs. I love that team. I just think if the Heat live up to their potential, the Spurs can’t stop them from doing what they want. Nor can anybody in this league at this point.

    And if LeBron’s going to cement his legacy as a top ten player in history, he cannot afford another Finals loss without earning another Finals victory.

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