Manu Ginobili took a swipe at the basketball Sunday in Game 2 of the NBA Finals. Ginobili’s hand probably got within, I don’t know, two feet of Dwyane Wade’s face. Wade’s head jerked backed like he had been slugged by a Rock’em Sock’em Robot. Referee Jason Phillips blew his whistle and called a foul on Ginobili.
Tuesday, the NBA fined Wade $5,000 for flopping. It was a little frontier justice, since Ginobili — probably my favorite NBA player — is the king of the floppers.
But it’s absurd to think $5,000 is any kind of deterrent to flopping in an NBA Finals. Are you kidding me? That’s chump change for a play that could swing a game in such a hotly-contested series. Drawing fouls on a player such as Ginobili has incredible value. If flopping sends a key player to the bench for an extended period, then that flop is worth $50,000. Or $500,000.
Regular season fines? Fine. Go ahead. But in the playoffs, flopping should be more discouraged. If the NBA is going to use refs who fall for flops, going to use refs who react to reactions instead of what they actually see, then the playoff penalty needs to increase.
Suspend floppers. Suspend them for the next game. Or, if that’s too severe, the half in which they flopped and the next half. No more letting superstars turn this game into soccer, which has done more for the craft of Europeans thespians than anything since William Shakespeare.
In the regular season, flopping has decreased. That’s strictly an eyeball guess. But the outrage that ESPN commentator Jeff Van Gundy has expressed in recent years has lessened. We’re not seeing as much of it.
But we shouldn’t see any of it. If someone elbows you in the ribs, as Mario Chalmers did Tony Parker in Game 2, fine. Go down like you’ve been shot. But if that elbow doesn’t connect, and you’re trying to draw a sympathy whistle, you get to watch the next game.