Will LeBron James become the first repeat offender under the NBA's postseason anti-flopping policy?
During the third quarter of Indiana's 91-77 victory in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals on Saturday, James appeared to seriously exaggerate contact while defending Pacers forward Paul George, a move that could earn him his second flopping fine of the postseason.
The play in question unfolded after James ducked by a high screen from Roy Hibbert and attempted to close out on George, who was seeking a pass on the perimeter. George leaned his right arm into James, at which point the 2013 MVP launched his upper body and head backward as he fell to the ground. George was whistled for a foul. Replays appeared to indicate that James' reaction was an embellishment inconsistent with the degree of contact given by George.
Later during the third quarter, Pacers fans at Indianapolis's Bankers Life Fieldhouse serenaded James with chants of "He's a flopper!" as he stepped to the free-throw line.
James was one of three players fined $5,000 each for flopping during Game 4. A second flopping violation would cost James $10,000 under the league's stiffer postseason flopping policy, which removed a free warning given during the regular season.
James is now subject to the following fine scale.
Violation 1: $5,000 fine
Violation 2: $10,000 fine
Violation 3: $15,000 fine
Violation 4: $30,000 fine
If a player violates the anti-flopping rule five times or more, he will be subject to discipline that is reasonable under the circumstances, including an increased fine and/or suspension.
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During the regular season, 19 players were warned for flopping and five of those received fines for a second offense. James is one of seven players who have been fined during the postseason. The others: Pacers forward David West, Pacers guard Lance Stephenson, Knicks guard J.R. Smith, Pacers forward Jeff Pendergraph, Thunder guard Derek Fisher and Grizzlies guard Tony Allen.
Earlier during the Eastern Conference finals, James said that he sees the value in flopping.
“Any way you can get an advantage over the opponent to help your team win, so be it,” he told reporters.
James had not received a warning or fine during the regular season under the NBA’s anti-flopping policy, and he spoke out against flopping during the conference semifinals.
“I don’t need to flop,” he said. “I play an aggressive game. I don’t flop. I’ve never been one of those guys.”
The Heat and Pacers are now tied at three games apiece in the series. Game 7 is Monday in Miami.
Below, an animated GIF version of James' reaction to the contact from George.