By Marcus Shockley
The NBA has instituted fines for ‘flopping’, which is when a player fakes taking an offensive foul. This is an excellent move by the NBA, and the best move the NBA has made since it instituted the age limit. It’s one of the top issues that needed be addressed in order to not only return consistency to the game but to start eliminating the overriding attitude that NBA games are ‘fixed’ for some teams.
The concept of flopping as it exists today in the NBA actually started at the college level. Coaches with less athletic defenders would teach their players to take the charge instead of going for the block and fouling. This, by itself, is not a bad strategy. By definition, a ‘charge’ is an offensive foul, meaning, the player on offense has taken an unfair physical advantage in the game. Technically, a player banging in the post shoving his defender to the floor is also guilty of an offensive foul. However, what we’ve become used to is when a player has the ball and is pushing to the basket, and the defender stands his ground, gets knocked to the floor, and an offensive foul is called.
Pretty simple, right?
Well, there’s that little bit about whether the offensive player actually got an advantage or whether the defensive player stepped in and cut off his path to the basket with a trip. That’s when the replays start trying to show whether the defender ‘moved his feet’ or whether he ‘got there in time’. The reality was that it was extremely difficult to take a charge unless a defender had clearly established position well in advance.
And that’s when things got ugly.
Some coaches at the college level took advantage of this; even if it seemed obvious that their player was late to take a charge, they would berate the officials until some calls started going the other way. Eventually, the concept of a ‘block or a charge’ became almost entirely a judgement call – no longer a clear cut choice where the offensive player had the benefit of the doubt. Some players would be called for offensive fouls simply because they were not national names, while others had much more free reign because of the name on the front of their jersey. The players who grew up in this system learned to make this an art form – flailing their arms emphatically or yelling out to attract attention as they threw themselves to the floor.
It shouldn’t be part of the game. It’s something that basketball fans have always hated, and when someone like Lebron James obviously flops, sports fans can only shake their heads in disgust. It’s seen as cheating because the actual rules define the play much differently than it is called.
So the NBA has implemented two solid changes which will continue to improve their product on the floor. Now if they would just raise that age limit at least one more year and shorten the season, they could actually see ratings that would allow more of their teams to turn a profit.