Flopping Fight: NBA, Players’ Association Square Off

The basketball league wants to significantly stiffen its fines for flopping, but the National Basketball Players Association isn't falling for that change.

The National Basketball Association (NBA) has plans to punish or fine players for falling down on the job — literally — and the league’s players’ association isn’t happy about it.

Last week, the NBA proposed a series of fines on the act of flopping — ranging from $5,000 for the second offense to $30,000 for the fifth offense — that the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) calls excessive and outside the scope of the league’s collective-bargaining agreement.

“The NBA is not permitted to unilaterally impose new economic discipline against the players without first bargaining with the union,” the group’s executive director, Billy Hunter, said in a statement published by USA TODAY. “We believe that any monetary penalty for an act of this type is inappropriate and without precedent in our sport or any other sport.”

The group, citing fair labor violations, may fight the proposed rule in court.

Now, granted, your association will probably never run into a situation exactly like this one. But if something changes on the job, when is it time to fight for your fair labor interests? When doesn’t the punishment fit the crime?

What is “flopping,” anyway?

Flopping, a generally defensive tactic used by basketball players to draw a foul from an opposing player, has been criticized as a “dirty” tactic over the years, though some basketball players and fans consider it fair play.

Not a basketball fan? Here’s a prime example of a flop by NBA superstar LeBron James, a player often cited by critics for using the tactic.

Note the way James dramatically falls despite barely touching his opponent. The NBA has also released a video of “flops” that will get players fined.

For decades, this technique was accepted as part of the sport — with some players, such as legendary center Vlade Divac, earning respect for doing it well. But in recent years the NBA has started cracking down.

Players react

Shameless flopping, that’s a chump move. We’re familiar with it.

Many players and commentators believe the level of punishment doesn’t fit the crime.

“Listen, I don’t flop like a lot of these guys,” James’ Miami Heat teammate, Shane Battier, told the Miami Herald. He worries profiling might play a role in the fines. “I know a lot of people say I flop, but I’m too old for that.”

But some, however, showed their support:

“I like the rule,” the Los Angeles Lakers’ Kobe Bryant told ESPN. “Shameless flopping, that’s a chump move. We’re familiar with it. Vlade (Divac) kind of pioneered it in that playoff series against Shaq, and it kind of worked for him.”

If you were running the National Basketball Players Association, how would you handle this situation?

(YouTube screenshot)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

Got an article tip for us? Contact us and let us know!