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Do NBA Players Get Fined For Flopping?

If you have ever watched the NBA, you may have caught a glimpse of flopping. Flopping has been around for a long time in all professional sports. It’s usually when a player is barely hit and they fall to the ground to draw a foul or make the contact look worse than it really was. This happens quite a bit in the NBA,  it’s always been part of the game and probably always will. Although it’s not what fans want to see, nor does it cover the sport in glory, especially in the age of super slow mo 4k replays, so do NBA players get fined for flopping?

Do NBA Players Get Fined For Flopping? NBA players can be fined for flopping in games, but only if the call is missed by the referee team during the game. In the Summer of 2023 the NBA announced new rules around “Flopping” starting from the 2023-24 season. If the referee asseses flopping in game it will be called as a ‘non-unsportsmanlike technical foul’, which cannot lead to ejection from the game. The in game penalty will be the award of 1 free throw to the opposing team. The referee does not have to stop play to call a flop, it can be called and the free throw taken at the next break in play. There is no fine attached for an ‘non-unsportsmanlike technical foul’, however if a flopping call is missed during a game but discovered afterward then the player can be fined $2,000.

Previous rules had been implemented in 2012 and stated that a player should be handed a technical foul if a referee adjudges them to have been flopping or exaggerating contact during the course of a game, however this rule stopped being used within a few years.

With this rule in place, it is hoped that flopping in NBA games will reduce quite a bit, with players not seeing any benefit in simluating. However, it certainly won’t stop players from doing it entirely. In recent years we have seen flopping move from the traditional basketball defensive flop, trying to draw an offensive foul, to players in possession of the ball trying to draw foul calls on even the most innocuous of contact. A new challenge for the NBA League Office to try and address, they have been given string guidance ahead of the 2023-24 season to address this.

What does the NBA define as a flop?

Flopping is, at it’s basic tenet, the act of simulating or exagerating contact from an opposing player in order to draw a foul call from the referee. This is not the same as a player pump faking or maniuplating their body to draw legitimate contact from an opposing player. Ahead of the 2023-24 season the NBA Officials have come up with an acrnym to help them understand, recognise and call flopping more consistently. S.T.E.M.

What is STEM? The NBA acronym S.T.E.M stands for;





When it comes to the act of flopping in an NBA game the word secondary is seen by the referees as being relevant when a player makes a movement after the contact has been made. For example if a player is posting up and rocks into the defender, if the defenders falls backwards in a secondary motion not caused directly by the contact, it should be called as a flop.

Theatrical is a word used by NBA officials to help them define a flop. In the image above, you can see Dillon Brooks flopping. The first part of the flop is clearly a “secondary” movement, the contact does not cause him to fall backwards. However, it is also theatrical. The exagerated head and arm movements are the key give away here.

Imterestingly, and importantly, despite the clip showing 2 types of flop, it was also called CORRECTLY as an offensive foul. There is a clear arm off into Brooks before he falls back, even under the new rules this will be called as an offensive foul. The NBA has been clear that a player can be fouled and flop at the same time and both punishments should be awarded.

Exageration has been defined as important to a flop call by NBA referees in the following ways;

Distance traveked by the flopping player

Excessive flailing of limbs

Potential to cause an injury to another player (on either team)

For a flop to be called, the offending players movement just needs to fall into 1 of the 3 catagories, Secondary, Theatrical or Exagerated, it doesn’t need to tick all the boxes.

As ever the referee’s main weapin against flopping is simply to identify it and not call it as a foul. The new addition of a penalty deterant will embolden them to get these calls right and punish offenders. Especially as play doesn’t have to be stopped to do so. The ability of the offiicals to call flopping after the play has finished is a huge weapon in their arsenal. In addition using video evidence to sanction players for flopping after games have concluded is another weapon the league can deploy to cut out the scurge of flopping.

In addition the “rip-through” foul, which is a form of flopping popularised by Chris Paul and Jame Harden is being clamped down on by officials. This is the act of the player in posession of the ball waiting until a defender is close enough and then swinging their arms across their body with the ball to initiate contact with the defender, often followed by a half-arsed attempt at a shot to gain free-throws.

CP3 draws full court “Rip-through” foul

Chris Paul went on to discuss this exact type of call with JJ Reddick

Cp3 discusses the Rip Through Foul

What do NBA players think of the flopping rules?

Back when the rule was first introduced, a lot of players spoke out about it. Kobe Bryant was the first and most notable to speak his mind on the subject. He said that he was all for the rule change, specifically mentioning one player and how it ended up effecting a playoff series due to the fouls that Shaquille O’Neal picked up in some of those games. Ironically, James Harden agreed with the statement as well. Most people nowadays believe that Harden flops more than anybody else in the league, though there isn’t currently an official statistic to back up that type of statement.

Blake Griffin was another player that many thought flopped all the time back when this rule was introduced. He, on the other hand, wasn’t too big a fan of it. While he said it was nice that the league wanted to keep the game clean, he said that the punishment really wouldn’t matter to players due to it being small. Blake also talked about how players would gladly take the minor punishment if it meant they could flop and help swing the outcome of a game in their favor. As for the coaches, Erik Spoelstra was the biggest supporter of it. He was all for the new rule and thought that it should have been addressed a little bit sooner than it did.

Who was the first NBA player to get fined for flopping?

When this rule was first introduced, nobody in the NBA wanted to be the first to get punished for flopping. In the first season of its implementation, Brooklyn Nets forward Reggie Evans became the first player to get fined for flopping. He wasn’t caught during the course of the game, but the league had caught him flopping while watching the game tape back. He was fined $5,000 for the act and had only been punished due to being warned earlier in the season for another flopping offense. Once other players realized that this new rule was legitimately being enforced by the league, the rate of flopping dramatically dropped. Only 24 violations were handed out that season for flopping, with only five players picking up a second $5,000 fine for the act. Evans will forever be remembered as the first guy to get docked for flopping in NBA history, a stat that he likely won’t want on his resume.

What NBA players have been fined for flopping recently?

Ahead of the 2023-24 season there wasn’t any action against flopping violations. Teh focus had slipped significantly after the first few years of the old rules coming in when the NBA was paying strict attention to it. Players have been fined more frequently for acts that don’t directly affect play, like taunting. However, a few players were recently warned for violating the anti-flopping rule in 2021. Patrick Beverley was hit with a $5,000 fine for doing so. Which isn’t too surprising considering he has long been accused of flopping and antagonizing throughout his entire career. In the same year LeBron James and Kyle Kuzma were handed warnings by the league for violating the rule themselves. In James’ case, he was seen getting boxed out during a game. The player didn’t even make contact with his arms and yet LeBron flew backwards and onto the ground, causing the referees to incorrectly give his team possession again.

Shortly after that, Kuzma was defending somebody in the fourth quarter. He got a small touch on the chest and decided to spin around and fall onto the ground even though there was ridiculously little contact on the play. These are just some examples of flopping in recent memory, though unfortunately there has probably been a lot more of it that the league hasn’t caught notice of. It is yet to be known if the NBA will ever decide to really crack down on these violations, or if they will just have it sit on the backend until they really start checking it consistently.