Basketball is a physical game, and particularly in the paint. While some physical contact is fine, and should be encouraged, other times it will be a foul. It is unfortunate, but at one point or another every single player will exaggerate this contact to get the foul. This exaggeration is also known as flopping, and some players have mastered flopping and have a knack of getting the whistles to go their way time and time again.
Whilst these players, or floppers as they are known, may get the calls for the team, they also do not command much respect from other players, fans and sometimes even their teammates. It is bending the rules, unsportsmanlike and often a flop will be so dramatic that it looks as if a player has been shot. They will fall to floor dramatically, throwing their arms in the air as they look to the referee with a look of astonishment on their face. The contact and physical battles down low are a key factor in basketball and make the game much more enjoyable.
There is a reason that players spend a huge amount of time in the weight room adding muscle, and this is because they know that they are going to get bumped around each night. Floppers take this physical battle away from the game, and this is much to the annoyance of those who enjoy watching players using their size, strength and speed against one another.
The NBA has taken measures to curtail flopping, and this is in the form of a warning the first time a player is caught flopping, followed by fines in increments of $5,000 each time after this. In the playoffs they are fined the first time and the fines are larger. This does little to deter many players however, and the NBA has a long way to go until flopping is eradicated from the game.
Here are the 15 biggest floppers in NBA history.
15 15. Paul Pierce
14 14. Robert Horry
13 13. John Stockton
12 12. Chris Paul
11 11. LeBron James
LeBron James is one of the best athletes in the world and remarkably strong when attacking the basket, which is what makes it so bizarre to see him grossly exaggerate contact on occasion. One minute he will wrap the ball up, shrug off three players and finish strong at the basket, and then on the defensive end he will fall to the hardwood as if he has been shot with a cannon. At around 250 pounds, LeBron is usually bigger and stronger than who he is matched up with, but it will often be James that is rolling around on the floor. In addition to this, LeBron constantly complains to the referee about any physical contact, and being “The King”, he will often get his way.
10 10. Karl Malone
“The Mailman” may be second on the all-time scoring list, but he was also despised by many due to the length of time he spent on the floor trying to get a call go his way. Malone was a 260 pound power forward who wouldn’t have looked out of place in the NFL, so there are not too many players that could knock him to the ground too easily. It appeared otherwise however, as he was frequently seen tumbling to the ground upon minimal contact on the defensive end before he would beat up on players down in the post down the other end of the floor. He also had a few tricks up his sleeve, much like his partner in crime John Stockton, and he could use these to bend the rules and get calls to go his way.
9 9. Shane Battier
8 8. Raja Bell
7 7. Derek Fisher
6 6. Reggie Miller
Regular readers may remember that Reggie Miller topped a recent article titled top 15 irritating players in NBA history, and his penchant for flopping is a contributing factor to this. Unlike the majority of players on this list, Miller’s flopping was more on the offensive end than defensive. His stick figure frame certainly helped his case as it was believable that he could be knocked flying, and Miller was also famous for getting in the referee's ear throughout the game.
5 5. Anderson Varejao
Varejao is notoriously bad for crying to the referee when things get a bit physical in the post, and unfortunately he will often get his way the next trip down the court. For a player that is 6-foot-11 and 267 pounds, Varejao spends an awful lot of time on the deck and this irritates other Bigs to no end. His hair bounces around dramatically when a player tries to post him up, and this surely helps his case as it makes the contact more noticeable. Varejao does not bring a tremendous amount else to the table, making him a player that not too many respect around the league. He may often get his way now, but in the more physical 90s era he would not have stood a chance against many of the great, tough players from this period.
4 4. Danny Ainge
3 3. Manu Ginobli
2 2. Bill Laimbeer
One of the Detroit Pistons “Bad Boys” and the player whose job it was to rough players up each night, Bill Laimbeer was also one of the biggest floppers the NBA has seen. He was far from a fan favourite outside of Detroit due to his aggressive play, and then bizarrely he would also flop frequently. This combination of being aggressive and then exaggerating contact make him one of the more hated players of all time, but he was also highly successful and knew how to get under his opponent's skin.
1 1. Vlade Divac
Flopping is a common sight in today’s game, and unfortunately much of it has to do with Vlade Divac. Whilst certainly a skilled player and one that opened the door for many international players to come in, Divac was also notorious for flopping and some would say he turned it into an “art form”. When players, particularly Shaq, began to post up the Serbian, he would suddenly fall to the floor and roll around like a fish out of water. Divac struggled to adjust to the fast pace and physical side of the NBA when he entered the league, but he soon learnt that by exaggerating the contact and throwing his body around he could get calls to go his way. Soon players caught on, and flopping has since become a huge part of the game and something that is difficult to officiate.
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