In the NBA today, flopping is so common that everyone would be in jail if it’s considered a legal crime. Basketball is supposed to be physical, and even though the physicality has lessened, flopping is plunging the quality of the game to disappointing lows. What is flopping, and why do NBA players flop? Find out why.
What is Flopping in Basketball?
Flopping is an exaggerated act of physical contact to draw a foul call from the referees. Or a flop is when someone pretends to get hit, even if there is no contact, to fool the referees that a foul has occurred. It may be done in offense or defense, and it is such a plague in the NBA right now that it’s equally common on both sides.
By that definition, flopping is lowkey a form of cheating. It is different from a “sell,” because selling a call simply shows the referees the foul that just happened. This is why the NBA flopping rule has been very strict nowadays and is heavily punished by the league.
In real-time, it’s tough to distinguish a flop from a foul. Of course, outrageous flops can be easily spotted, but subtle ones have become a part of today’s game that even referees are fooled by from time to time.
3 Reasons Why NBA Players Flop
Flopping may not be ideal, but you can bet NBA players will do it every time as long as they get an advantage. Here are some of the reasons why NBA players flop, sometimes shamelessly.
1. To get the attention of referees
It isn’t personal, but the primary reason why NBA players flop is to get the referees to call for a foul. Any foul called on the opponent is an advantage– it may get the offensive team free throws in a penalty situation or reset the shot clock to 14 seconds.
2. To get somebody in foul trouble
Getting somebody thrown out of the game because of fouls is a strategy as old as the history of basketball. It also helps if it’s a superstar. Coaches or players will try to force a defensive action involving the targeted player and exaggerate contact. Believe it or not, flops in these situations may actually work.
3. Because there’s a chance to get away with it
Players do what they can get away with. If there’s a chance to push, grab, and hook an opponent and not get called, you can bet they’d do it. It’s the same thing with flops. Flopping is hard to detect in real-time, and players gradually improve their acting and foul-fishing skills.
What are the Consequences of Flopping in the NBA
Because of how common flopping is in the NBA (and the unfair advantage it gives), the league has enforced stricter anti-flopping rules. But did you know that the NBA utilized the restricted area to prevent flopping in the paint?
Yes, you heard it right. In 1997, the league invented the restricted arc to prevent blocking or offensive foul flopping inside. To be fair to the new generation of players, some form of flopping has already existed before. (Flopping also exists in other sports, such as soccer and hockey.)
Beginning in the 2012-13 season, the NBA started to fine floppers. A clear flop in-game is called a technical foul, leading to a free throw and ball possession to the opposing team. If a flop was missed in-game and found out in a post-game review, the league would issue monetary fines.
These are the NBA’s fines as part of its more stringent anti-flopping rules:
- $5,000 on the first offense with increments of $5,000 up to the fourth offense
- On the fifth offense, the fine increases by $30,000 plus a possible suspension.
- The first offense warrants a $5,000 fine in the playoffs, with a $5000 increment until the fourth offense. The fourth offense is $30,000, and a fifth could mean a suspension.
13 Biggest Floppers in the NBA History
Flopping has been a vast but unwelcome part of basketball. It was thought to be derived from soccer, but wherever it came from, floppers get little respect from fans because of their shenanigans. Here are some of the worst floppers you will ever see in the NBA:
1. Vlade Divac
Divac was one of the “pioneers” of flopping. He has been doing it sporadically since his earliest years with the Lakers, but his run-ins with Shaquille O’Neal as a Sacramento King brought Vlade’s flopping to a whole new level. In fairness to Divac, there’s not much you can do against O’Neal inside, so you might as well try.
2. Manu Ginobili
Ginobili gets away with flopping a lot because he does play hard on every possession. The problem is, if you play him too physically, Manu exaggerates the contact, which is very irritating for opponents. What’s more disappointing was that Ginobili had the skills and artistry to get and-ones off his flops!
3. Reggie Miller
Speaking of wiry frames and getting away with murder, Reggie Miller was one of the best. Miller would grab, hold, and push, but if it was the other party’s turn to dish punishment, he was more than happy to flop.
4. LeBron James
James has a strong case as the NBA’s GOAT, but he’s also a talented flopper. For someone of his stature, LeBron has no problem exaggerating contact, even if it looks comical. There’s a reason why he called “LeFlop.”
5. Bill Laimbeer
Laimbeer was a Bad Boy to the core and a dyed-in-the-wool flopper. You see, the two are not mutually exclusive. Laimbeer can dish out the worst physical punishments, but if an opponent retaliated, he made sure the refs saw it. In fact, Bill once drew 12 fouls in a Finals game, many of which are because of his highly-refined flopping skills. (Check the 0:35 mark of the video.)
6. Chris Paul
Every time there’s contact, CP3 acts like there’s a sniper in the building. He flails, rolls to the floor, throws himself six feet in the air backward, and does all things that make him look like a dummy on the basketball court. Now, that’s god-tier flopping skills!
7. Paul Pierce
Paul Pierce is a top 75 NBA player of all time and probably in the top 10 biggest floppers in history. “The Truth” was a master of exaggerating contact and a Ph.D. in acting like he got hit by a truck. And every basketball fan remembers the wheelchair shenanigan he pulled off in the 2008 NBA Finals.
8. Robert Horry
This Horry special Big Shot Bob pulled may not be the biggest flop in the history of the NBA, but it’s close. Some flops occur in the slightest of contact, but this legitimately looked like he was just touched. And this happened in a Conference Finals game, no less!
9. Blake Griffin
You know it’s bad when a 40-year-old Vince Carter accuses you of flopping with a “worm dance.” Griffin doesn’t have the reputation of, say, a Chris Paul or even LeBron, but from time to time, his flopping is even worse.
10. Marcus Smart
As far as flopping greats go, Marcus Smart is a Hall of Famer. He is a scrappy defender and got a DPOY under his belt that his flopping is constantly believable in the refs’ eyes. Smart’s flops are so ridiculous he looked like he was hit by prime Tyson every time. Check out 1:34 of the video below.
11. Anderson Varejao
Derek Fisher was a pretty muscular guy and strong for his size, but there’s no way he can throw a 250-pound guy like that. Credit to Anderson Varejao for having the guts to pull off this embarrassing flop.
12. James Harden
In all fairness to James Harden, his antic toned down when he got to Philly. However, his flopping lowlights wearing a Rockets jersey were so infuriating it was funny. His beard could get grazed by the wind, and the guy falls down like he’s mugged by 10 people.
13. Kyle Lowry
Lowry is proof that being tough and a flopper is not mutually exclusive. He is constantly one of the leaders in charging fouls drawn, but unfortunately, he sprinkles ridiculous flops here and there to complete the recipe.
Wrapping Things Up: Why Do NBA Players Flop?
Flopping has been a plague that rids the NBA, and unfortunately, it doesn’t look like it will stop anytime soon. The NBA has put more stringent rules since 2012-13 as far as fines and possible suspensions go, but fans still see flops occasionally.
Why do NBA players flop anyway? The primary reason why NBA players flop is to attract the referees’ attention and get foul calls their way. This could earn them free throws and potentially get the opponents in foul trouble. It obviously gives players an unfair advantage, but it’s now up to the refs and the league to keep it in its place.
We hope you enjoyed this post! If you did, be sure to check out our other basketball FAQ articles here.