Friday, October 12, 2012

New Flopping Rule, Same Old Game

Everyone gets blurry when Chris Bosh flops, but he gets over it. (
The NBA has a plan to combat the flopping that occasionally seems like a plague. If that sounds familiar, good. It should.

That little half-circle under the hoop — the charge circle, if you like — is purposed to deter defenders inclined to stay relatively motionless before drawing contact from a driving ballhandler. The idea is good and is intended to keep defenders honest while protecting offensive players from racking up inordinate amounts of fouls.

The major flaw of the charge circle is that, well, there's only so much area to cover directly underneath the hoop. While it is useful, there is plenty more hardwood to be exploited.

Enter the new rule, in which the NBA will give floppers one warning before doling out fines ranging from $5,000-$30,000, depending on the violator's number of past false falls. All judgments will be made by officials at league headquarters by means of tape review. Slight tweaks to the rule could be made for playoff games — as the official memo skimps on details but for the regular season, while a player may be able to wink-wink-nudge-nudge his way into a generous call during a game, he will literally pay for it later.

That's the spirit: hit 'em where it hurts. Of course, there is an inherent problem in leveraging financial penalties against people who make thousands of dollars during the course of one 48-minute game. Not everyone in the NBA is signed to a maximum contract, and ludicrous spending by players is perhaps more rampant than flopping, but $5,000 for a second-time offender is not equivalent to a cease-and-desist order when a professional knows one call could change the course of an entire game, especially as the minutes wane and any prospective penalty would be dealt after the fact.

To point, Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin boiled it down to the choice of paying the cost and winning a championship or fearing the fine and falling short. That wouldn't be a tough decision for anyone playing at the highest level of basketball in the world outside of hell, potentially including the Olympics.

Ideally, monetary ramifications would stop any unjust actions in any circumstances. As in the world at large, this is not always the case in sports, and though fining players for flopping is a step in the right direction for fair play, this particular measure is as hopeless as a penny with a hole in it.

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