NBA's Stern offers contradictory message on flopping, Pacers coach

May 14, 2012
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If it looks like a flop and feels like a flop, it’s probably a flop.

But if you’re an NBA coach, don’t call it a flop. Doing that will cost you.

In the case of Indiana Pacers Coach Frank Vogel it cost him $15,000 for calling Miami Heat players floppers.

It seems odd that while NBA Commissioner David Stern said at Sunday’s Pacers-Heat game that flopping in the league is a problem, Vogel is writing a check to the NBA for essentially saying the same thing. In one breath Stern says he’d have fined Vogel more if it had been solely up to him, and in the next breath, he says flopping is not a legitimate part of the game and players should be fined for it.

Stern needs to stop contradicting himself and offer a little more clarity on the issue.

The officiating certainly wasn’t on the Pacers’ side Sunday, but flopping probably isn’t why the Heat beat the Pacers in game one of their Eastern Conference semifinal at Miami. The Pacers simply didn’t play well enough down the stretch to pull this one out.

While flopping hasn’t cost the Pacers yet, you can bet it will before this best-of-seven series is over. The fact that a phony foul should cost any team is a sham and a shame—for players and fans alike.

Yes, floppers have always existed. But in recent years it’s been taken to new heights. Is the NBA going by the way of big-time international soccer and the WWF? Should aspiring basketball players head to the gym this summer or enroll at Juilliard for acting classes?

“I think it’s time to look at (flopping) in a more serious way,” Stern said Sunday. “Because it’s only designed to fool the referee. It’s not a legitimate play in my judgment. I recognize if there’s contact (you) move a little bit, but some of this is acting. We should give out Oscars rather than MVP trophies.”

Strong words from the commissioner.

So the NBA will “look” at it—maybe. But let’s not talk about. At least not in public. And especially if you’re an NBA coach.

  • Flop
    In the NHL, flopping is called diving and the refs can assess a 2 minute penalty. A similar deterrent (a technical foul) would be sufficient in the NBA. Just what the NBA needs - another type of foul, another reason to check the monitor and slow down the game.
  • Media gets it wrong again...
    Vogel didnt get fined for taking about flopping. He got fined because he challenged the integrity of NBA officiating. He stated that the referrees were blowing their whistles in favor of Miami Heat players 'before' the opposing player actually touched them. If you take Vogel's statement forward, it makes is seem that the officiating is rigged. To protect the integrity of the sport among fans, Stern has to crack down on that kind of narrative being perpetuated through to the media. This sport is not professional wrestling where the outcome is already decided. Vogel was right to be fined based on the rules in his workplace (NBA).
    • NBA front office weighs in
      It sounds like somebody (Tony) from the NBA front office has weighed in. More double-speak. The results might not be pre-determined, but it sure looks like it that way from my small-market vantage point.
    • YES
      I agree entirely. Vogel's comments in all actuality, were very unprofessional. To say that a specific team (the Miami HEAT) flop too much is not only slanderous, but it openly challenges the integrity of both the HEAT and the referees. This kind of trash-talking can be infectious, and so it was right for him to be fined.
    • Coach's comments
      If Phil Jackson or Pat Riley had said it would have they been fined? It's ok for some to play head games but not ok for others? Why not plant a seed in the refs head
    • Double Standard
      There is and always has been a double standard for Small market vs Big market...doesn't mean the small market can't win but it does not help...if Vogel challenged the integrity of the game and the officials, why did Stern do the same thing?...he said it's a problem, they are flopping and fooling the refs (so maybe it is championship wrestling after all). He would not have fined Phil Jackson or Doc Rivers for the same remark. That said, it is worth 15K to plant a seed if you have it to spare. Metta World Peace goes out 70 games for the brawl in Auburn Hills...there is no penalty like it in sports, totally unprecedented, supposedly partly because of his prior history that the suspension was so long...3 or 4 incidents and years later he clearly assaults James Harden on the court and he gets to come back for Game 7 to rescue the Lakers from themselves against the Nuggets? Please don't tell me the league is not rigged for the big market clearly is. You can win if you are a small market team, but you are not getting the help that the big TV markets will get.
      David Stern has become increasingly erratic, and has stayed too long as the Commishioner...he no longer is relevant, or even makes much sense, and his damaged logic in situations like this fine and the Metta World Peace suspensions only further undermine his credibility...he is bought and paid for, and he has grown weary of even offering excuses for his irrational decision making and behavior anymore.
    • one word
    • Coach Vogel
      The first thing the Comish should do is return Coach Vogel's money. In light of the comish's sentiment about floping
    • Really?
      All of these comments against the NBA coming from the city that used to have the ultimate flopper in Reggie Miller. He wrote the book on the subject.
    • not really contradictory
      He may sound contradictory, but he's really not. He's saying he doesn't like flopping, sure, but he's fined Vogel because, even if he agreed with his message, at the same time Vogel tried to pull a Phil Jackson RIGHT BEFORE the series started in an attempt to influence the refs. That's why. If Vogel were REALLY concerned about flopping, then why didn't he say anything about it earlier in the season? So he was clearly trying to play with the refs' minds right before the series got underway. The fine has nothing to do with the flopping thing in itself. Phil Jackson, after all, got fined (both as a Bulls and Lakers coach) for a lot of comments that did not have anything to do with flopping, but rather with comments about other game situations made in an attempt to conditionate the refs. It's just a rule. You can't do that, whether it has to do with flopping or not.

      It's not that hard to understand.

      The fact Stern doesn't like flopping himself has nothing to do with Vogel getting fined.
      • Yepper!
        Andrew above is correct. In an interview on Dan Patrick radio show, I believe, Stern admitted that he fined Vogel because he viewed Vogel's comments as an attempt to play mindgames on the officials and to politik (sic) before the game. Contrary to popular belief, Phil Jackson was fined for saying similar things to the media. I'm not buying small market, big market.

        What I do buy is that NBA officiating has really declined in recent years. If I see another blocking foul called as an offensive foul on the Pacers, I will scream.
      • Flipped?
        do you sports 'journalists' ever consider the idicy of your columns before you write or publish them? srsly, there are children in this country without food or a decent education and millions of your fellow citizens without health care (50,000 dying every year) and you think writing about something as ridiculous as 'flopping' is worth using your precious time on this earth for? try a different perspective on LIFE maybe...and I hope they don't actually PAY you for this drivel

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