John Lucas III says there’s not a player in the NBA who doesn’t flop.
“Bigs flop, guards definitely flop. Any given day, some guy grabs my jersey I’ll sell it like they grabbed my spine outta my body,” Lucas said, grinning.
The Toronto Raptors guard has mixed feelings about the NBA’s new penalties for those dramatized dives to the floor — think of a person touching an electric fence — to gain a foul call.
The league announced Wednesday that it will review flopping footage, with players receiving a warning the first time. A second offence will cost $5,000, with fines increasing to $10,000 for a third violation, $15,000 for a fourth and $30,000 the fifth time. Six or more could lead to a suspension.
Speaking while on Day 3 of training camp, Lucas says players have been guilty of some serious overacting the past couple of seasons, drawing the ire of a league intent on cleaning up its image.
“Faking like they got poked in the eye. . . everybody faking like somebody just ripped their arm off,” Lucas said.
But the four-year NBA veteran said it will be difficult to completely remove a tactic many have perfected over a lifetime of playing.
“You learn (flopping) as a child, and now it’s taken away, so it kind of makes you take away part of your game,” Lucas said. “They add all these rules in, and then when the game comes, it just comes naturally.”
The five-foot-11 point guard said, because of his size, embellishing the contact when he bumps into a bigger player is sometimes the only way to get to the free throw line.
“When you get bumped, you’re going to yell and go, ‘Aah!’ Like ’It might not be a flop, I’m just letting you know, I’m getting bumped, can you please give me a call? I’m just selling it so you can actually see it.“’
Stu Jackson said in announcing the new penalties that flops have no place in the game.
“. . . they either fool referees into calling undeserved fouls or fool fans into thinking the referees missed a foul call,” the NBA’s vice-president of basketball operations said in a statement.
The players’ association has since filed a grievance over the new penalties.
The NBA defined flopping as “any physical act that appears to have been intended to cause the referees to call a foul on another player.”
“The primary factor in determining whether a player committed a flop is whether his physical reaction to contact with another player is inconsistent with what would reasonably be expected given the force or direction of the contact.”
Raptors coach Dwane Casey supports the league’s decision to bust floppers.
“I don’t think it has a place in our game. When you get over there and the guy blows on you, barely touches you and you go flying out, that’s not a good basketball play,” Casey said. “I’ve never coached a player to get over there and act like you got hit. Get there, get position, take the blow, take the hit and take the charge.
“It’s a man’s play, this is a man’s league and that’s what I try to sell more than anything.”
Former Los Angeles Lakers star Vlade Divac is arguably the most memorable flopper of all time. Anderson Varejao and Manu Ginobili are considered among the worst offenders in recent times — but they’re far from the only culprits.
“Kobe flops. LeBron. D-Wade. . .,” Lucas said.
DeMar DeRozan said former Raptors teammate Reggie Evans was one of the worst — or best — floppers in the league.
“There’s a lot of good guys who get away with flopping, some guys that’s part of their game,” DeRozan said. “I think it’ll be good for us to look back at the little calls that really didn’t look like anything because the ref couldn’t see it out of the corner of his eye ... It should be a good thing for us.”
The high-flying swingman says “it sucks” when an opponent flops when he’s driving to the hoop.
“A lot of times you’ll hesitate because you know what guys do and you can see it before it comes,” DeRozan said. “As soon as you drive, they’re setting up so they can call back before you hit them.”
The players admit that a flop isn’t an easy call for a referee to make. The players who have perfected the technique may be too good at it to get caught. Enforcing the new penalties might be difficult.
“I think what they’ll find is that it’ll be hard to review it on tape as well,” said centre Aaron Gray. “Just what angle, how can you determine how much force. . . . And a lot of the NBA is being able to draw a foul, the stars do it, that’s why they get to the line 10 to 12 times a game.”