Cuban’s cash, SMU’s smarts team up to take down flopping

One of the most egregious moves an athlete can make on the basketball court is to flop. It is likely the most despised move in basketball because of its intent.

The entire purpose of flopping is to fool referees into believing a foul occurred, when, in effect, what the player did was over-exaggerate minor physical contact with another player with the idea of trying to sway a call in their favor.

Flopping, as it is aptly described, is frowned upon in basketball . Now, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban is attempting to do something about it.

A Cuban-owned company, Radical Hoops Ltd., recently awarded a grant of over $100,000 to SMU to fund an 18-month research study of flopping in basketball and other sports. Peter G. Weyand, an associate professor of applied physiology and biomechanics in the SMU Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development, said the objective of the research is to investigate forces that are involved during a typical basketball collision.

“The issues of collisional forces, balance and control in these types of athletic settings are largely uninvestigated,” Weyand said. “There has been a lot of research into balance and falls in the elderly, but relatively little on active adults and athletes.”

Thanks to Cuban, now there will be. And the NBA and its fans are probably commending the Mavericks owner’s efforts.

For the first time this season the NBA adopted an anti-flopping rule, with players first receiving a warning for committing the infraction, then being fined $5,000 if they are a repeat offender. The problem with the rule, even according to NBA Commissioner David Stern, is the fine is too low.

“It isn’t enough,” Stern said. “You’re not going to cause somebody to stop it for $5,000 when the average player’s salary is $5.5 million.

“And anyone who thought that was going to happen was allowing hope to prevail over reason. But you take a step and you begin to see it, and I think the cause was not so much mine as it was our fans who would like not to see that policy.”

Stern believes the NBA Competition Committee and the Board of Governors must get back to the bargaining table this summer and come out with more stringent rules to better enforce anti-flopping measures, or else the practice might get completely out of hand.

“We knew that flopping was going to be far from perfect and we gather more attention because we were giving it more attention,” Stern said. “But the point was to do it gently, look at all the flops — and there have been plenty — penalize the most egregious very gently.

“We could end that immediately if we decided to suspend players, but that might be a little bit draconian at the moment. And so it’s going to be up to the board and the competition committee to decide how much they want to do.”

Unfortunately, Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki doesn’t believe there’s much anyone can do to eradicate flopping. He knows if a game is on the line, a player probably will flop in a crucial situation if he knows he can trick the referees into giving him a call that will help his team win the game.

“Honestly, I think we’re never going to get rid of [flopping], but you’ve got to limit it,” Nowitzki said. “I think it’s also a part of sports — any sport you look at, it’s part of winning.

“Some people are smart and you do a little extra thing to kind of sell the call. To me, that’s part of sport.”

While Nowitzki views flopping as a strategic part of the game that’s here to stay, he detests players who dramatize and elevate flopping to a new and ugly level.

“You don’t want the obvious ones, the really, really bad ones,” Nowitzki said. “I think we’d love to get rid of those.

“But if someone really does get shoved and hit a little bit, just to sell it a little bit for the referees so he does get the call, I don’t have a problem with that. I think that’s part of the game. But the really obvious one where there’s nothing happening or he doesn’t even get hit and then you fall down, I think, yeah, we do need to get rid of those.”

Even without the funding Cuban has provided the SMU research team, Stern said that the NBA already has enough information to slow down — or completely prevent — players from flopping.

“I think we have the data,” Stern said. “I don’t know if we have the stomach.

“And we’ll have to see what happens with the competition committee and the board.”