Stern Targets ‘Trickery’ Of Floppers

OKLAHOMA CITY – If you’ve been as bothered by the rash of serial split-second loiterers through this NBA postseason – that is, alleged defenders whose sole purpose is to do nothing more than stand in front of and collide with an opponent who actually is trying to play basketball – you’re in good company.

NBA commissioner David Stern feels your irritation.

“‘Flopping’ almost doesn’t do it justice,” Stern said in a news conference about an hour before Game 1 of The Finals Tuesday night at Chesapeake Energy Arena. “Trickery. Deceit. Designed to cause the game to be decided other than on its merits. We’ll be looking at that.”

There is hope. The league’s competition committee will be meeting on June 18, Stern has seen the agenda and flopping – the interpretation of the charge/block call is probably a less biased way to describe it – is among the topics. So is the extension of instant replay to more areas of, and during greater portions of, each game.

Said Stern: “Instant replay and elimination of tricks that are designed either to fool the ref or, if you don’t fool the ref, to make the fans think that the refs made a bad call by not calling it. That shouldn’t have a place in our game.”

The quicker and easier answer might seem to be, send a memo to all the officials suggesting a cease-and-desist on rewarding the floppers. But that’s a tilting of the board, in Stern’s view.

“We don’t like to get into a situation where we tell the officials, ‘This is the rule but don’t call so many,’ ” he said. “If there’s a rule to be changed, then we’ll look at it, and I think there will be a robust discussion about an interpretation or an emphasis about how that should or shouldn’t be called.”

Stern and deputy commissioner Adam Silver covered a wide range of topics, but without the uncertainty and expected rancor of a looming lockout that marked their annual presser a year ago. In fact, the five-month lockout and how the NBA came out of it in salvaging the 2011-12 season dominated the question-and-answer session.

For example, it was common knowledge that one of the owners’ goals during the labor talks was that the new collective bargaining agreement would make it tougher for a team to follow the Miami Heat model with a spending spree on superstars. A more severe luxury tax system presumably will discourage such largesse by the time the whole system is phased in over two years.

But even the Oklahoma City model – drafting shrewdly, then keeping your core together – might be unsustainable when it’s time for the key members of a deep team such as the Thunder to get contract extensions. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, for example, already have agreed to long-term deals to stay in Oklahoma City but there is concern that James Harden and Serge Ibaka, among others, might go elsewhere if the Thunder’s budget can’t handle the tax liability that might kick in beyond the salary cap.

So does that penalize the smart, diligent teams? Or does it replenish the system with talent, rather than let it pile up only in a few markets?

“The reality is that teams … are going to be faced with player-sharing as well as revenue-sharing,” Stern said, “because when your roster gets to a point [of having] too much salary to maintain that roster because of the tax, there are going to be decisions that have to get made. Then other teams will have the ability to share just as they’re sharing in revenue – they’re ultimately going to share in players.”

Another alternative would be for the players on an especially deep team to sign for less money than the market would bear as a way of keeping the group together. Good luck with that one.

Among other topics:

  • Stern, a proponent of having NBA players play in the Olympics and international competition, said he is open to a rule that might limit that participation to those 23 and under. Several NBA owners have complained about their franchise stars risking injuries and delaying offseason surgery to compete, then missing NBA games while getting paid on guaranteed contracts. “I think it’s appropriate to look at it and see what the right way is,” Stern said.
  • Uh oh: That might put Stern on the same side of an issue as Dallas owner — and Olympics critic — Mark Cuban. This is not just a response to [Cuban],” the commish said, smiling. “In fact, usually when Mark says something, I try to go the other way. Here I think he actually has a point.”
  • A number of lesser-issues – the so-called “B list” – still aren’t complete in the CBA. Silver said that union and league reps would meet after The Finals to address whatever remains, such as the draft’s age rule and other “quality of life” concerns of players. Also, Derek Fisher, the NBPA president, is still occupied as a member of the Thunder.
  • Oklahoma City only has the Thunder because that team, formerly known as the Sonics, moved from Seattle in 2008. Stern said he met with that city’s major, Mike McGinn, Monday and learned about the latest land and arena plans, along with a party who wants to purchase an NBA team. “It is their hope that if there is a building going up and there is a team available, that they would float bonds to support the team,” Stern said. “The bonds would be repaid by the additional revenue that would be generated by the arena.”
  • Stern declined to predict an outcome in the unsettled situation of the Sacramento Kings. Responding to a hypothetical, though, he said that if there was a vote now on the matter, “there would be no support for a move.”
  • A full accounting of the NBA’s financial picture is underway, but Stern cautioned that the results could be “artificially good or bad” due to one-time effects of the lockout. For instance, by starting the season on Christmas, the league was able to secure all of its national broadcast revenue for 2011-12. But 20 percent of game revenues and local broadcast revenues were lost with the reduced schedule, while players gave up 20 percent of their salaries.
  • An arbitration hearing involving New York’s Jeremy Lin and Steve Novak, among other players, is set for Wednesday inManhattan. The union is arguing that such players’ “Bird” free agent rights should go with them even if they are waived and picked up elsewhere. The CBA specifies that only traded players retain those rights. Stern believes the league’s view will be upheld.
  • Referees during The Finals are wearing a No. 57 patch on their shirts in tribute to colleague Greg Willard, who recently was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

20 Comments

  1. Kamote says:

    They should rule flopping as flagrant 1, since it is actually “undercutting” a player that’s already high above in the air, and that’s dangerous to players. As for the flopping on post-up bumps (a la Divac), that should just be a no call, let the flopper fall and watch the person he’s defending score.

  2. OMG! says:

    At Mike C! When has Kobe Bryant ever taken a charge? He doesn’t do it! You don’t know what you’re talking about! How are you going to stop flopping? Players will try to do it no matter what! How do you control what players do on the floor?

  3. el stone says:

    Clean up the flopping, superstar calls, and travelling and more people might actually watch the NBA.

  4. PortugueseNBAfan says:

    I was really pleased with the intent from Stern to prevent flooping in the NBA. Soccer in Portugal, and in most of the world, is ridden with faulty theatrics and questionable calls that put the destiny of a game more in the acting capabilities of a player than its athletic ability or game prowess. After the last seasons I was kinda worry that philosophy could also spread to the NBA. A couple of years ago, someone created a top 10 of the players most known for flopping and, surprise surprise, a fellow Brazilian was at the top (Anderson Varejão). I really respect the guy, but he grew up surrounded by soccer, so I believe that in his mind, flooping is a legitimate tactic as any other, because that’s how most soccer fans think.
    One of the things that I simply love about the NBA is its dynamic and mutable characteristic. Instead of just stick up to the initial rules that Mr. Naismith crated, the game has evolved through the years, even embracing technological innovations like the instant replay, to create a tournament that is increases in interest as the season moves on.
    I cannot empathize how important it is for the real sports fans that the NBA remains a flooping free environment!

  5. The Worm says:

    In the 90’s taking a charge was seen as smart defensive play, for example Rodman made taking charges look like an art. Maybe im oldschool on this but in my opinion they should leave it the way it is. Because rules like these make Basketball an intelligent game, where you also have to think, next to being ahtletic etc. This I think is part of the charm of the game. Just like trashtalking etc. Take those things away and it becomes a bit boring.

  6. 3on1 says:

    Taking a charge is not what theyre talking about here, at least I hope not. If you get into position quick enough and stand your ground then you should get the call. Flopping when a player touches you whilst you have the ball should be the thing that is looked at more. Lebron James is a man mountain and he throws his head back as if he has been hit by a sledge hammer when the defender makes a legitimate play at cutting off his penetration. The game is already slanted towards the offensive player lets not make it impossible for a defender to make a good play. Do people want to see Lebron James and company bring the ball up the court after a made basket and drive at a single defender from the top of the key for the most part of 48 minutes. Yes the dunks and highlights are great but basketball is a five on five game, against Boston 2 sometimes 3 of Lebrons team mates didn’t even look at the basket when they had the ball in their hands. In my opinion the NBA is making a mockery of the game by allowing it to be turned into a circus of one out players with no real perception of team play. College basketball and European basketball have skill, excitement and tactics all rolled into one game, the way it is supposed to be played.

  7. Luke says:

    I think pump faking and baiting defenders to jump and initiate contact for a foul is also a kind of flopping on the offense side.

    • Mike C says:

      Exactly right Luke. The so called ‘SuperStars’ in this league are making the NBA into the biggest joke in professional sports. Half the time there’s no real INTENT to put up a decent shot, their main goal is to just draw a foul. The refs in this league are atrocious! I dont know how many games I watched this year where one ‘SuperStar’ shot more free throws than the entire opposing team combined. Game two of Celtics vs Heat is a perfect example. What a JOKE!

      • joe says:

        except the celtics captain, one Paul Pierce, is the highest offender in this regard. i like the rule as it is (should be that deliberate contact is not called, i.e. if the offensive player jumps into the defender then it doesnt count, as per dwade’s game winner on paul george during the regular season), ref’s just need to call it and make sure that shooters aren’t faking and then jumping into contact

  8. John From OKC says:

    Taking charges really is an art, but players who don’t even try to stay on their feet after the hit should be penalized.

    Maybe calling fouls on both of the players involved in such situations occasionally would help. Encouraging players to actually commit offensive fouls is a potential unintended consequence of some suggested rule changes.

  9. Syke says:

    Finally! Its really demeaning to the sport to see players with talent constantly flop.

  10. Mike C says:

    If the NBA institutes new rules to curb the epidemic of “Floppers”, currently in the league; the Miami Heat can kiss their dreams of winning a 2nd NBA championship goodbye. They have the two biggest floppers in the game in Lebron and Wade. Runner up in these rankings goes to Kobe Bryant. Too bad they didn’t implement this idea 10 years ago. Would have been minus 2 championships for the Lakers, and minus 1 for Miami. Thats a FACT!

    • jcob says:

      such a hater :) kobe doesn’t like drawing charges, said so himself. he said it could injure a player.

    • joe says:

      not that i dont agree with you (and im routing for miami to win the series) everyone flops. ask james harden. ask kevin durant. they all over re-act to get free throws. i hate it when lebron flops, and im part of the nba minority that doesn’t hate on him

  11. gc says:

    I agree with Cmanley. Rules should also allow a reasonably good defense. Today a big part of the game is hust charging towards the basket or other players in search for contact and fouls, often conducting traveling violations (why are they almost never sanctioned) and getting cheap fouls. Rulings should better reward technique and devense over sheer athleticism (which I admit is fun to watch). So I agree that we should get rid of the restricted area and even basket interference. However, the charge/block ruling is good as it is, even though it is often hard to judge. It’s a good defensive weapon that should be maintained.

  12. Eric says:

    What is the “bird” free agent rights. Why does Seattle have a Major not a mayor. Sorry to knit-pick but have been noticing errors like this all day does no-one proof read anymore?

  13. Mikey B says:

    I think it is a touchy rule to meddle with. Drawing a charge IS good defense, it shows superior footwork and anticipation.

    Charges/blocks already run a fine line. Many calls go either way, but blatant flopping should be punished. Tech a player for doing it, or make it an unsportsmanlike foul.

    Many big men get hit by guards driving the lane, and it’s a no call. A big man hit’s a guard, (and they usually go flying) and it’s a charge.

  14. Douglas says:

    Exactly! Two flops in each of the two finals late in both games turned the ball over to the other team. I am not saying it cost the team a loss, but what if? Do not let basketball become another sport like futbol or soccer! I don’t watch soccer because of the flopping. Fine them heavily as Coach Van Gundy expressed during the games. It will stop quickly. After the game reviews are good, not during the game reviews regarding flopping! Its hard enough for the refs to make calls with these guys, eliminate flopping with heavy fines.

  15. CManley says:

    It’s about time. Let the game be played tough, by big dudes who are all very strong and fast. There should never be a “move” towards creating a penalty, especially one that is taught by coaches. Yea there were always some “old vet” moves that some players would use after some years when they become a little older, but now there is almost a perception that this is a reliable offensive strategy. Athletic guys who make crazy shots to get and-1’s will always draw more people than some guy taking a charge. The best players were ones that relied on actual game, not getting the other team into foul trouble. If this is taken care of, the complaining about flopping will go away, teams will learn how to play better on the ball defense instead of undercutting, and the game will grow tougher and more exciting. We know what soccer has taught us, so apply it. And get rid of defensive three seconds and the restricted area. If teams want to park a huge dude in the middle, let them. Should make things interesting and eliminate tv timeouts.

    • cp3 says:

      my dude, that takes away strategy. Sure, people think that the nba should be streetball, but trying to figure out what to do and how to do it is half the fun. and if u just park a huge dude in the lane, u have less dunks.