The NBA hadn’t handed out a flopping violation since Jan. 27. That changed Saturday, thanks to Celtics guard Marcus Smart.
Smart was guilty of seriously and hilariously embellishing contact during Boston’s 111–103 home victory over Atlanta in Game 3 of their first-round series on Friday. The league handed down a $5,000 fine for his antics.
With Boston leading 104–98 and a little more than four minutes remaining, Smart raced in from the corner to chase an offensive rebound. Hawks forward Kyle Korver slid over to cut off Smart’s angle, leading Smart to launch himself toward the baseline, flailing his arms and legs as he crashed to the court and rolled over in mock pain. Meanwhile, Atlanta center Al Horford cleared the defensive rebound and play continued the other way without a whistle.
Smart’s reaction was totally inconsistent with the nudge he received from Korver and his over-the-top histrionics are directly in line with the NBA’s view of exaggeration.
The 22-year-old Smart has been known as an actor dating back to his days at Oklahoma State. Earlier this year, he told ESPN.com that he wasn’t worried about earning a reputation as a flopper and that he was “gonna play my game and play hard every day.”
Those comments came a few weeks after he drew attention for flopping on Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony by launching himself backward to the court. Remarkably, that play didn’t earn him a warning from the NBA league office.
While the NBA gives out one free flop-related warning during the regular season, it assesses a $5,000 fine for first-time offenses in the playoffs. A second flop would draw a $10,000 fine, a third flop would draw a $15,000 fine and a fourth flop would draw a $30,000 fine, with any subsequent violations potentially leading to an additional fine and/or suspension.
NBA Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations Kiki VanDeWeghe told SI.com earlier this month that he believes the league’s flopping program has succeeded in reducing the number of simulated fouls, even if it produced only eight warnings and zero fines this season.
Smart finished with 11 points (on 3-for-6 shooting), five assists and three rebounds in 33 minutes.
Atlanta leads the first-round series 2–1 with Game 4 set for Boston on Sunday.