The NBA has come out with what it hopes is a solution to one of the big issues in not only basketball but sports in general. There are many ways athletes try to get the upper hand and use “gamesmanship” to get an edge over the competition. But if the NBA has its way, deceiving an official by “flopping” or feigning contact will not be a part of its game.
Personally, it has been a sore point for years but the bigger problem is that the “deceit” has become so refined that officials can’t always tell a flop from something that’s legit. I thought flopping had gone too far when I wrote this back in May.
The guidelines of the NBA’s anti-flopping rule are outlined here but the rule only deals with part of the main issue. There are some flops that will be easy to determine and thanks to video review, fines will be levied. But the measure won’t address the biggest challenge for officials.
The toughest call in the game is still the charge/block call especially when it involves a drive to the basket. There are many things to examine. Where did the offensive player leave the ground? Was the defender totally still and not sliding laterally? Was the defender outside of the restricted area?
Another factor, although referees firmly deny it, is the personality issue entrenched in the entertainment value of NBA games. Hey, people don’t come to watch stars sit on the bench. Let’s just say for example Kobe Bryant drives for a lay up and it looks like an offensive foul as he runs over a youngster like Klay Thompson who was standing in the lane last week waiting for him. But wait, Kobe has 5 fouls. Do you really think they would sit Kobe down with his sixth foul? On the road a fat chance, at home, the chances are slim and none.
These flopping guidelines don’t address that very difficult play. So as I proposed here, extend the restricted area from the small arc under the hoop to the entire lower defensive box (an area outlined by small hash marks on the baseline just outside the key and in the lane just under the broken circle that extend to form a rectangle). If a player leaves the floor from outside the lower defensive box (LDB) on his way to the hoop there can’t be a charge called. Sorry Shane Battiers of the NBA defensive world, it’s too late to slide in under an airborne shooter to take a charge. If you want to take a charge take find a way to do it before the player commits to the leaving the ground.
The new rule can’t help but make you smile when you think about the NBA’s “famous floppers”. The advent of the international player made flopping both fashionable and functional in the NBA. Remember Vlade Divac and where are you Sasha Vujacic? As a side note, a full head of hair always helped Vujacic’s performances while Manu Ginobili’s effectiveness has declined.
Many have listed their “All-Flop teams” and have to list Ginobili, Luis Scola Anderson Varajao, and J.J. Barea as some of the top international embellishers, while domestically how can you deny James Harden, Reggie Evans and Mario Chalmers.
But some of the leagues biggest stars partake as well when you think of LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Paul Pierce, Dwyane Wade, Kevin Durant and Blake Griffin. The key question is, will the league call some of its biggest stars on their acting? Will the referees call offensive fouls when players don’t go to the ground? I honestly believe officials have helped exacerbate the problem by calls based on player reaction as opposed to actual physical contact.
Does this mean that the move Jamal Crawford stole from World B. (nee Lloyd) Free by kicking his legs out on a jumper to get contact and an extra free throw will be curtailed? Crawford is the NBA’s all-time leader in four point plays. But back in the day officials used to approach Free before the game and say “If you kick your legs out on your jumper I’m calling an offensive foul.”
And I’m still shaking my head over the flagrant foul whistled on Derek Fisher in Game 5 of last season’s NBA Finals against the runaway freight train that was LeBron James. I can’t stand guys that barrel down the lane like a runaway bus on offence and then crumble like a piece of cake defensively when you get near them on the other end. Ok, end of rant.
The jury is out on this new rule and will be all season. The NBPA has already implied that some disciplinary measures surrounding fines should be collectively bargained and a grievance may be filed. Some players have mixed feelings, others flat out don’t like it and say it’s a straight out money grab. Yes its true that flopping can cost you more than cussing out officials and amassing technical fouls. And yet some players say it’s a good rule.
It remains to be seen what the impact the new rule will have on the league.