NBA AM: Stopping the Flopping?
Flopping isn’t a new problem in the NBA. For years, players have been exaggerating contact and getting calls. However, the practice has become more widespread in recent years. The flailing and acting has become all too common, with some teams even practicing the art of the flop during training camp.
These days, even superstars resort to flopping. During the 2012 NBA Playoffs, we’ve seen high-profile players such as LeBron James, Chris Paul and Blake Griffin hit the ground after being barely touched. Paul had perhaps the most embarrassing flop of the postseason, flailing backwards after bumping into a referee who he mistakenly believed was an opposing player.
Now, the NBA may be stopping flopping for good.
On Tuesday evening, NBA commissioner David Stern took time during his annual pre-Finals press conference to channel his inner Jeff Van Gundy and take flopping to task.
“Flopping almost doesn’t do it justice,” Stern said. “It is trickery and deceit designed to cause the game to be decided other than on its merits. We’ll be looking at that. We’ll be looking at a number of things that make it easier for us to say to our fans what we all know to be true: Our referees want to get everything right. Instant replay and elimination of tricks – designed either to fool the ref or, if you don’t fool the ref, make the fans think that the refs made a bad call by not calling it – that shouldn’t have a place in our game.”
The NBA’s competition committee will meet on June 18, and Stern promised that flopping will be one of many topics discussed.
“I know it is something that the competition committee will look at because its meeting is on the 18th, and I’ve seen the agenda,” Stern said. “It will be looking at an array of things. It will be looking at ways of adding additional replay.”
During the 2012 NBA Playoffs, fans have voiced their frustration about flopping on social media websites such as Twitter and Facebook. Flops have been criticized and repeat offenders have been villainized.
Stern joked that there are three things guaranteed to get the Twittersphere worked up.
“Flopping, tanking, conspiracy,” Stern rattled off.
While instant replay may be used to reverse calls, the NBA may also implement a penalty system that prevents flopping. Back in 2008, there was talk that the league would begin using in-game observers and video reviewers to fine and suspend players who were blatantly flopping.
However, the league office seemed to put this idea on the back burner. In the five years since, there have been no consequences for floppers even though the frequency of the act has increased.
The first step to betterment is realizing you have a problem. The NBA understands that flopping has become an issue and it sounds like they’ll do their best to come up with a solution this offseason.
Durant, Westbrook Shine in Finals Debut: Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook played like they had been on this stage before. Even though both players were making their NBA Finals debut, they managed to relax and lead the Oklahoma City Thunder to an impressive Game 1 victory over the Miami Heat.
“It took us a couple of minutes to get rid of the nerves, get rid of the jitters,” Durant admitted.
The nerves weren’t noticeable to anyone else. The duo contributed 63 points, which is tied for the most combined points by teammates who were both making their Finals debut. The only other pair of teammates to reach that mark? Julius Erving and Doug Collins, who combined for 63 points for Philadelphia in the first game of the 1977 Finals. Durant’s 36 point-performance is the second-best Finals debut in NBA history, behind only Allen Iverson’s 48 points back in 2001.
Durant and Westbrook were an unstoppable one-two punch, especially in the second half when they outscored Miami’s entire team, 41-40. They outplayed their star-studded opposition, outscoring LeBron James and Dwyane Wade by 14 points. In the fourth quarter, Durant and Westbrook helped the Thunder pull away, knocking down basket after basket as Miami struggled to score.
“Those two guys are All-Stars for a reason,” James said. “You can’t stop them. You just try to limit them.”
Oklahoma City is optimistic and confident heading into Game 2, but Thunder head coach Scott Brooks is keeping his team focused, as he has done all season long.
“We won one game,” Brooks said. “That’s it.”
However, Oklahoma City is now three wins away from winning the championship. If the Thunder receives three more performances like we saw in Game 1 from Durant and Westbrook, they’ll likely be popping champagne and hoisting the Larry O’Brien trophy next week.
Bosh Likely Starting in Game 2: One of the biggest surprises in Game 1 of the NBA Finals was Chris Bosh once again coming off the bench for the Miami Heat. For several days, Bosh had been saying that he’s almost 100 percent healthy, but Erik Spoelstra decided to keep him out of the starting lineup on Tuesday.
Bosh didn’t start the second half either, but he did manage to contribute 10 points and 5 rebounds in 33 minutes. Afterward, Spoelstra hinted that Bosh will likely be inserted into the starting lineup for Game 2.
“I think now that he has four games under his belt, I think we’ll be able to get him closer to his game,” Spoelstra said. “He’s been very accepting of just trying to fit in, but I think we’re going to need more from him offensively and try to get him in spots where he’s able to be aggressive like right before he got hurt, when he was playing at a high level.”
In other words, expect Bosh to start in Game 2.
Up Close With Festus Ezeli: After a successful career at Vanderbilt, Festus Ezeli is looking to take his game to the next level. Over the past four years, Ezeli has grown both literally and as a player. He grew to 6’11 during his time with the Commodores and he became a student of the game. When he first arrived on campus, he was several years removed from Nigeria and had no idea how to play basketball. He was extremely raw and still learning the game’s basic rules.
Fast forward several years and Ezeli has come a long way. He averaged 10.1 points, 5.9 rebounds and 2 blocks in his senior season at Vanderbilt. Now, he’s preparing for the 2012 NBA Draft, which would have seemed ridiculous four years ago. He is currently projected as a late-first or early-second round pick.
HOOPSWORLD’s Yannis Koutroupis caught up with Ezeli during the 2012 NBA Draft Combine in Chicago. Ezeli talked about what role he’ll play in the NBA, the misconception that he’s injury prone after spraining his MCL last year, how much room he has to grow as a player and being a big Hakeem Olajuwon fan.