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David Stern Doesn't Really Give A Shit About Flopping

Illustration for article titled David Stern Doesnt Really Give A Shit About Flopping

The short answer is, there's no short answer to flopping. It's nearly impossible to legislate intent, except in the most egregious of cases. Soccer has long failed to address even the glaring dives, and the NHL's embellishment penalties are often more controversial than the plays that don't get whistled. Lots of folks, Jeff Van Gundy the most vocal among them, agree it's a major issue that ought to be addressed, but here's precisely the most useless way of doing it: the most powerful man in basketball saying it's a problem he'd love to solve, but it's out of his hands.


David Stern, how about some tough-sounding words designed to do nothing but deflect criticism from yourself?

"I think it's time to look at (flopping) in a more serious way, 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.

"Some years ago I told the competition committee that we were going to start fining people for flopping, and then suspending. And I think they almost threw me out of the room (saying), 'No, let it be.' "


"Basketball reasons" is a good enough rationale for moving a team, keeping a failing team in place, handling a team's personnel moves, and vetoing a team's fair trade. Stern's position is secure enough to push just about anything through, no matter the public outcry and internal hostility. But not secure enough to actually act on something that has near-universal opposition. You know what David Stern, who claims to hate flopping, does to people who also vocally hate flopping? He fines them.

It's the Competition Committee's fault, he says. Chaired by Stu Jackson and manned by GMs (or GMs' reps) from each of the 30 teams, that board that has traditionally rubber-stamped anything Fifth Avenue has pushed through apparently pushed back on flopping. "No, let it be," they supposedly said, except no one would actually say that about flopping. This was "some years ago," but Stern has apparently not considered bringing it up again, or going to his hand-picked NBA Rules Committee" created for the sole purpose of bypassing the competition committee.

These are not the actions of a man who wants to do something about flopping. They are the words of a man who doesn't want to do anything about it, but would really appreciate if you would take your criticism elsewhere over what's going on in his league.

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