It is understandable that some top-tier professional athletes choose to be “fakers” during competitions. Taking a dive or a flop to get a call from a referee may not be respected by fans and even some analysts, but it has proven to be an effective method in different sports. Some might even say that there is a certain gamesmanship in such a practice. The old adage that has been associated with sports for quite some time teaches that “if you ain't cheating, you ain't trying.” It could be said that those who are regarded as some of the biggest fakers in sports are merely trying harder than opposing players.
Perception is reality, or so the saying goes. The perception that has existed for some time is that European athletes have brought diving, flopping and other embellishments to North American sports. This idea largely comes from what has been seen in the Premier League, La Liga, Champions League games and other soccer competitions over the years. Players dive in soccer. It happens and it has become such a problem that referees are now able to caution athletes for doing so. Major League Soccer has taken the additional step of handing out fines to players who are found guilty of being fakers during games.
Soccer is not, of course, the only sport that features rich men throwing themselves down on the playing surface during games. Some of the best players in both the National Basketball Association and the National Hockey League have been accused of taking ridiculous and even humorous flops during games. These instances have been showcased in highlights shows such as SportsCenter and they have earned the athletes guilty of these crimes reputations for being fakers. One athlete even unintentionally created an Internet meme all because of an alleged dive during a game.
20 Evgeni Malkin
When he is healthy and at his best, Evgeni Malkin of the Pittsburgh Penguins has the goods to take a NHL game over seemingly in an instant. Perhaps it is because he is so talented that it bothers people so much when the player affectionately known as “Geno” by fans and teammates takes a clear dive during a game. He was twice whistled for embellishment during a regular season game that occurred in December of 2014. We guess you have to give Malkin credit for being so dedicated to his craft that he twice risked being penalized for diving on one night.
The first Brazilian footballer to be mentioned in this piece is the attacking midfielder who plays for Premier League side Chelsea and for his country's national team. Oscar has been accused of diving on multiple occasions and some of those flops have earned him yellow cards from referees. Even Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho has, in the past, stated that Oscar deserved to be punished by a ref because he went to the ground far too easily during a match. This is not to say that Oscar is not one of the best overall players at his position. It is just too bad that he also has a reputation for being one of the biggest fakers in the Premier League.
You know things have gotten a bit out of hand when you become the star of gifs and other Internet memes all because you have been caught taking a horrendous flop during a game. That was the case for Nene in January of 2015 when he embarrassed himself with a dive that was as clear as day. This was not a one-off for Nene, as he has picked up a reputation for trying to buy calls from officials. Credit to him whenever it works, but he cannot be blamed for fans and television analysts pointing out whenever he goes out of the way to simulate being fouled.
17 Ashley Young
Do you have some extra time to kill while scrolling through different Internet pages? Head on over to your favorite search engine and look up “Ashley Young dive.” Then, enjoy the many examples of when Ashley Young has thrown himself down to the ground during matches. The English footballer is far more known for his dives than for anything positive that he has contributed to Manchester United or to his national team. At this point, Young is going to go down as one of the biggest fakers to ever play in the Premier League. Congratulations for earning this honor, Mr. Young.
16 Brad Marchand
You have to give Brad Marchand credit. He has, during his career, not cared if he has been playing in the regular season or in the playoffs. Marchand has chosen to dive nevertheless. He was one of several players to be fined more than once during the 2014-15 regular season because he was found to be guilty of embellishing during games. Those fines apparently did not teach Marchland much of a lesson, but he at least was able to write out a check to a charitable organization of his choice. Perhaps he could consider attending “Floppers Anonymous” meetings during his off days.
15 Blake Griffin
One of the greatest overall athletes in the NBA today has also been accused of being one of the biggest fakers in the league. Journalists and also fellow players have publicly criticized Griffin for the dives that he has committed during games. One such incident involved Griffin accidentally hitting himself in the forehead before he tried to earn a call from a referee. There is no question that Griffin has the ability to dazzle fans with his highlight-reel dunk, but his reputation as a flopper and a faker has been earned by his actions and only Griffin can take steps to eliminate that once and for all.
14 Didier Drogba
We all love Didier Drogba. The Chelsea legend has produced many memorable moments during his career and he dominated MLS after joining up with the league in 2015. Drogba has also been known to dive quite a bit, particularly during his days with Chelsea. The Telegraph once published an article titled “Chelsea Striker Didier Drogba: Some of His Most Melodramatic Dives.” That was hardly a personal attack on the front man, who really can only blame himself for being known as a flopper and a diver. He has accomplished quite a bit during his career and he has also committed far too many dives.
13 P.K. Subban
Are you looking to become one of the top divers in your hockey leagu?e P.K. Subban may be able to help you achieve that goal! We may recommend starting out with the video “P.K. Subban shows us how to dive and embellish” to see how he does what he does so well. It is not merely an opinion that Subban is one of the biggest fakers in all of the NHL and in sports. He has repeatedly been punished by the league because of his flops. Subban may be a great player, but he is going to continue to receive criticism until he takes steps to eliminate theatrics from his game.
12 Manu Ginobili
The San Antonio Spurs have gotten little wrong over the past decade and Manu Ginobili has been a big reason why the Spurs have been the top franchise in the NBA for so long. Ginobili has also picked up a reputation for being one of the biggest floppers in the league. He has been mentioned as such by NBA beat writers for years and Ginobili has been named to the “All-Floppers” team that was produced by ESPN.com. It is not unlikely that Ginobili will one day be named to the Hall of Fame. As great as he has been throughout his career, Ginobili has also been a great diver.
11 Gareth Bale
When an athlete feels that it is necessary to address accusations of being a diver, he is going to make such a list. Gareth Bale tried to defend his antics while he was with Tottenham Hotspur and he has continued to be known for trying to win calls from referees during his stint with Real Madrid. Bale has been accused of being a diver since he emerged as one of the best footballers in the world, and there is no question that he has been guilty on several occasions. Bale has, to his credit, tried to avoid contact with other players in some of these instances, but he has still turned those into flops rather than getting back to his feet and resuming play.
10 Alexander Semin
“Alexander Semin is lazy.” This is the start of an article written by Sam Page of SI.com. Semin not only frustrates fans and critics because of what is perceived to be a lack of dedication to the cause despite the amount of money that he is paid to play pro hockey. He is also known as being a diver, one who has been accused of committing numerous flops during his career. Semin has shown that he can make positive contributions to the team that is paying him at the time, but he has also brought shame to his own name by propelling himself down to the ice.
9 Paul Pierce
Who among us will ever forget seeing Paul Pierce needed to be literally carried off of the court because he had been “injured,” only for Pierce to then make a miraculous return to the court? That alone would earn Pierce a spot in the top-ten of this list and it is not the only time that Pierce has been accused of being a faker over the years. Pierce's resume speaks for itself. Fans of the Boston Celtics will always be appreciative for what Pierce helped the Celtics achieve while he was with the club, but those same fans would have to admit that Pierce has been known to flop every now and again.
8 Arjen Robben
Did you watch the 2014 FIFA World Cup match involving the Netherlands and Mexico? If so, then you already know why Arjen Robben gets his own spotlight for this list. As bad as that moment was, it is probably not the worst dive the Robben has committed during his career. Robben is a great player who can break the hearts of opposing fans with one strike of his left boot. As talented as he is, Robben will forever be remembered for the many flops that he has been guilty of while playing for clubs and for his national team. At least try to stick the landing when you do dive, Arjen.
7 Sidney Crosby
There exist some NHL fans who choose to hate Sidney Crosby largely because he does not play for their favorite team. That does not erase the fact, though, that Crosby has been known to embellish in certain instances. Websites have dedicated articles and video highlights to the dives that Crosby has committed since first joining the league. Fans have even brought “No Diving, Sidney” signs to games to show their displeasure with the actions of the great player. Crosby has made it to the top of the mountain and won the Stanley Cup with the Pens. Here is hoping he does not dive off of that mountain.
6 Dwyane Wade
Among the list of the biggest fakers in sports, it is Dwyane Wade who may “deserve” to flop more so than any other athlete. Wade has sacrificed his body while playing for the Miami Heat and the guy very well may have a limp for the majority of the second half of his life all because of the wars that he has been through over the years. The NBA did not have any mercy on Wade during the 2014 Finals, as the league fined him after he had committed a clear dive. Wade did deserve that punishment, but it would have been understandable if the NBA chose to simply give out a warning in that instance.
It was at the 2013 edition of the Confederations Cup when Neymar truly burst onto the world scene and showed that he could be the next great player. Neymar was also accused of flopping during that tournament and such accusations have followed the young superstar since he linked up with Barcelona. Not a year has gone by without Neymar receiving new criticism after he has gone to ground during matches. One can find YouTube videos that show Neymar allegedly flopping for club and for the Brazilian national team. Stay on your feet, Neymar. You're too good for such shenanigans.
4 James Neal
Anybody who is even a casual NHL fan probably could have guessed that James Neal would be the top hockey player mentioned among the biggest fakers in sports. Neal's reputation for being a blatant diver has followed him since his early days in the league and the player has only bolstered that rep with repeated flops that have earned him fines. Neal actually managed to make history when he became the first ever NHL player to be fined for diving during a game. That is humorous and pathetic all at the same time. One would think that a pro athlete would eventually feel shame for such actions.
3 LeBron James
Remember the Internet fad “LeBroning,” in which people would make ridiculous dives after being bumped into by another individual? We can all thank LeBron James, now of the Cleveland Cavaliers, for that becoming a thing. It is not just that James has flopped every now and again. The man is huge and made of muscle. You may be able to hit him with your car without him feeling much of anything. Even the idea that an undersized point guard could possibly cause James to topple to the ground is laughable. James is one of the best players of his generation, but his reputation as a diver is deserved.
2 Cristiano Ronaldo
We get it, Cristiano Ronaldo fans. You love the man who may very well be the best footballer of his generation. Be honest with yourselves, though, and admit that your beloved player has flopped during matches. Those videos that have been put together by fans showing Ronaldo diving are not proof that there are “haters” out there who simply prefer Lionel Messi over Ronaldo. They serve as evidence that would convict the Real Madrid star in a sports court, if one were to exist. He'll be remembered as one of the greatest players in the history of the sport, but that does not erase the fact that Ronaldo has embellished on multiple occasions.
1 Luis Suarez
“He cheats! He dives! He hates the Jackson 5! He's Luis Suarez!” This is the song that has been associated with the front man who plays for Barcelona. As skilled of a goal-scorer as Suarez has been for club and for country, he is also maybe the dirtiest player in the game. Along with biting multiple opponents during his playing days, Suarez has also committed some shameful flops worthy of red cards because they were so disrespectful to the sport. There is an argument to be made that Suarez should not be allowed to be a pro footballer because of his actions over the years. Included in those are his many dives.