The number of flopping penalties in this year’s NBA Playoffs nearly doubled this morning when the league fined the Miami Heat’s LeBron James and the Indiana Pacers’ David West and Lance Stephenson $5,000 each for incidents in Tuesday night’s Eastern Conference Finals Game 4, including this impressive piece of acting by James and West:
Last fall the NBA announced that it would be cracking down on flopping, worried that the scourge of players exaggerating contact was having a negative impact on the league’s image.
During the regular season, one flop earned a player a warning, two a $5,000 fine, three a $10,000 fine, four a $15,000 fine, and five a $30,000 fine. More than five could result in a suspension. The NBA adopted a stricter policy for the playoffs, eliminating the warning and charging $5,000 for a first offense.
But enforcement of the no-flopping rule has been spotty. The league issued just 24 penalties in over 1,200 regular season games. Only 19 players were implicated, and just five were fined. Prior to this morning’s penalties, only four players in the first three rounds of playoff action had received bills for excessive theatrics: the Pacers’ Jeff Pendergraph, the Memphis Grizzlies’ Tony Allen, the New York Knicks’ J.R. Smith, and the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Derek Fisher.
James, who won’t have any trouble cutting a $5,000 check, told Ken Berger of CBSSports.com earlier this week, “Guys have been accustomed to [flopping] for years, and it’s not even a bad thing. You’re just trying to get the advantage. Any way you can get the advantage over an opponent to help your team win, then so be it.”