Falling down on the job

Why do we have flopping?

Because it’s rewarded.

Because falling down gets you wins.

How do we know? Because the league's most prominent floppers are a who's who of MVP candidates, All-Stars and NBA champions.

No rules committee brought us to this point intentionally. No one said, “Hey, what the game needs is more falling down! What can we do to reward players who fall down a lot?”

But that’s where we are.

It’s not obvious until you notice it, but giving players a reward for falling down mucks up the game in all kinds of ways.

First and foremost, it leads to flopping.

Just as important, it encourages players to (a) jump in front of other players and then (b) fall down to get the call. Whether this is flopping or legit is in the eye of the beholder, but regardless, it’s a reward for falling down. Meanwhile, it’s a play that almost always puts the refs in the center of dispute and controversy, because it’s so difficult to call -- and it’s a play that prevents that kind of flow and spontaneity and true, athletic competition that almost everyone wants to see. So what’s so great about encouraging players to jump in front of other players and fall down?

In real life, when something gets out of hand, changes are made. If a company were to accidentally set up a system which rewarded employees for using lots of paper, the company would see its paper bill rise dramatically, its bottom line would suffer and the company would change the policy.

So what needs to happen in basketball?

We have to stop rewarding players for falling down.

We’ve offered some thoughts on how to stop flopping (here, here and here), and we’ll have more on this soon. You can add your thoughts at the links below.


You can give us your ideas and talk with us and other fans in the following places:

And for the truly ambitious: Shoot a short video of yourself explaining your HoopIdea, upload it to YouTube and share the link with us on Twitter or Google+.

Royce Webb is an NBA editor at ESPN.com. Follow him at Twitter.