The NBA has recently announced that they are going to implement a system where they retroactively impose fines on players they determine to have "flopped" durring a game. While I will be the first to admit that the NBA has a problem when it comes to flopping. I have to say that I feel they are going about this all the wrong way. Everyone remembers the beginning of the 2010-2011 season where refs were given new guide lines for issuing technical fouls. Everyone who watched the way the new rules were implemented remembers how much of a joke the techinical foul became. Players got T-ed up for clapping, and hopping, and making any outward sign of emotion about a call. In the end the rules slowley fadded and by the all-star break the ref's stopped calling the new rules almost all together. However even the obvious failure and the players reaction to the whole debacle that was made of the expanded technical foul rules is going to pail in comparison to the hit the NBA is going to take for fining players after the fact.
There are a number of problems I see with the new rule. The first, as I mentioned, is the fact that these fines are not to be issued by the refs on the court, but by someone watching on a tv. This isn't the same as issuing T's from a replay to see who came off the bench or who pushed who? This is a judgment call being made after the fact. This closed door nature of these decisions is going to lead to questions about how these calls are being made and why some players get fines and others don't. The NBA refs already have a credibility problem when it comes to treating players differently based on their star power. Adding the ability to fine any player they want isn't going to help that perception of favoritism.
The second problem I have with this new rule is the idea that the players are responsible for this trend in "flopping". That somehow it is j.j. Berea's fault that every time he gets posted up and takes a dive the ref calls a charge. Or that it is batum's fault for falling to the ground anytime his man slightly pushes off going by him. These players are only following the incentives. Its basic economics that if you incentivized a behavior people will act in a way that earns them that reward. It is the same in basketball, flopping is incentivized by refs who issue charge calls, and players take the fall in order to get that reward. The NBA obviously understands that because by fining players for "flopping" they hope to disincentives it. However what they fail to realize is that fining players isn't going to change the structure of incentives that exists in the league. The reason is simple, basketball players entire goal is to win games, and flopping is an effective way a player can impact the outcome of a game with very little effort. The incentive to the players to flop isn't about money, but about winning. If you don't make flopping a ineffective way to change the outcome of a game and help you team win, you won't stop players from flopping.
This is why the only real way to stop flopping in the NBA is to stop calling the fouls for those who flop. To me the NBA is fining the wrong group of people. What the NBA should do is to fine the refs who call the flops. If you want flopping to stop you have to attack the root of the problem which is that when a player takes a dive he is rewarded far to often with a charge call. The best way to prevent these charges from being called is to fine the refs who call them. If you think it is to hard for the refs to see everything that is happening on the court and you don't trust them to see what is and isn't a charge then you need to put more refs on the court, or find new refs. It isn't a surprise that baseball umpires get such a high percentage of their calls right without instant replay or having a committee every time their is a call made. The reason baseball umpires are so efficient is because there is one at every base. And while there are still mistakes made in baseball, there are far less made, then if there were only three umpires on the field. How many times have you seen a ref make a call in the nba that was clearly wrong because he was out of position and had no angle on the play? Remember LA's block on durrant last year when a ref at half court called goal tend because he was 50 feet from the play and looking dead on with no angle to tell if the ball was on the glass? I do, and there are countless other calls that are made in the NBA by refs who are blocked out and have no angle on a play. If you added a 4th ref you could make life easier for everyone and you could hold refs accountable for their calls instead of blaming players for gaming a system that is begging to be abused.
This is how Urban Dictionary defines the phrase, "don't hate the player, hate the game". "Do Not fault the successful participant in a flawed system; try instead to discern and rebuke that aspect of its organization which allows or encourages the behavior that has provoked your displeasure". I don't think that I could come up with a better description of what is wrong with this new flopping rule even if I had tried. Until the NBA acknowledges that refs have created a system that incentives flopping, and implements some kind of change to hold those who call the flops accountable, they shouldn't punish the players who take advantages of the clearly flawed system that is the NBA officiating.