Stars fined for flopping in Eastern Conference finals

Published On May 30, 2013 | By Sarah Kirkpatrick

LeBron James of the Miami Heat and David West and Lance Stephenson of the Indiana Pacers were each fined $5,000 by the NBA Thursday for violating the league’s policy against flopping.

The fines were issued for flops occurring during Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals, in which the Pacers scratched out a messy 99-92 victory. James and West were fined for embellishing the same play in the fourth quarter, as James spun in a circle before falling and West emphatically crashed into the baseline.

Stephenson was penalized for a hyperbolic reaction to a slight elbow from the Heat’s Ray Allen after making a basket late in the first quarter.

The NBA started fining players for flopping this season. Players are given a warning for their first offense during the regular season but are fined for the first flop in the playoffs. In the game between the Pacers and Heat, there were many embellished plays, which led to a controversially officiated game.

James said earlier this week that flopping is part of a good game strategy.

“Some guys have been doing it for years, just trying to get an advantage,” James said Monday. “Any way you can get an advantage over the opponent to help your team win, so be it.”

Embellishment has been an issue for a long time. When one of the best defensive teams in the league and one of the best players in the history of the game continue to resort to theatrics in order to win a game, it’s clear that the game is becoming a bit convoluted.

ESPN analyst Israel Gutierrez noted that flopping is a major reason why moving screens and other calls are difficult to make. When refs have to differentiate between flops and real fouls, calls get missed.

The league is obviously trying to do something about it with the implementation of the new anti-flopping policy this year. But if they want it to stop, they’re going to have to do a lot more than a $5,000 fine.

James’ 2013 salary is $17,545,000. That $5,000 is .028 percent of his salary alone — and that’s not even including the millions of dollars in endorsements that James has earned.

The median American household makes roughly $50,000 dollars a year. That .028 percent would be equivalent to the average household being fined $14.25. For me, that would amount to less than three of my orders at Starbucks. I might be a tad grumpy about it but I would certainly get by without a triple white mocha two or three times. It’s just not that big of a deal for me, and that $5,000 is definitely not that big of a deal for James.

So issue technicals during the game, increase the fine or make a suspension rule. Pocket change won’t make real change in the mind of a player. Losing playing time or significant amounts of money will.

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About The Author

Sarah is a Seattle native studying journalism at Boston University. She covers track and field, cross country and women’s hockey and is Sports Editor at The Daily Free Press, BU’s independent student newspaper. You can follow her on Twitter at @Kirkpatrick_SJ.