When it was announced late in the NBA offseason that this year the league would be cracking down on flopping, we all chuckled and said it would be a matter of days before the first warning was handed out.
About five days is the exact number.
The first (historic, as some are calling it) flopping warnings were handed out on Monday as the league notified Timberwolves guard J.J. Barea and Cavaliers guard Donald Sloan, telling them to knock it off.
The two cases are very different, as Sloan was clearly guilty of his offense, while Barea could argue that his flop wasn’t really a flop at all. Sloan’s flop is exactly what the NBA is trying to crack down against, as while he claims he was shoved by Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich, video evidence harshly suggests otherwise.
For Barea, his was moving towards what the league wants to stop, but Jimmer Fredette really helped him out by selling the elbow to the chin as much as Barea sold — well the elbow to the chin. Clearly there was no contact but to the casual eye, Barea’s was more believable than Sloan’s.
In case you’re keeping a ledger, neither player is being fined for their flop. Instead the league issues fines on second offenses. The first offense is really just the league showing your hand to the rest of the NBA in an effort to humiliate you into never doing it again. Can you think of a league softer on their policies than the NBA? Even Bud Selig is looking at David Stern with a condescending look (well different from the one that’s normally his face).
Bottom line here: don’t expect Barea or especially Sloan to flop anytime soon. As for the rest of the league, what this showed them all is they really do all get a freebie before they have to start paying for flops. So in an effort to get rid of flopping, the NBA has actually just turned it into a strategic tool.