David Stern said the NBA understands how to stop flopping but was unsure if the league had the stomach to do so. (Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
MIAMI -- Commissioner David Stern believes that the NBA's anti-flopping policy isn't sufficiently punitive to achieve its goal of curbing the simulation and exaggeration of fouls in an attempt to deceive the league's referees.
Speaking at a press conference before Game 1 of the 2013 Finals on Thursday, Stern said that the league's Competition Committee and Board of Governors will discuss the possibility of beefing up the policy, which was first introduced before the 2012-13 regular season, but he doesn't know yet whether a tougher policy will be enacted for next season.
The league's anti-flopping policy includes a warning for first-time offenders followed by escalating fines that begin at $5,000, with the threat of suspension for players who violate the policy on more than six occasions. Before the postseason, the NBA tweaked that policy to remove the free warning and to initiate the $5,000 fine on the first offense.
"It isn't enough," Stern said. "It isn't enough. You're not going to cause somebody to stop [flopping] for $5,000 when the average player's salary is $5.5 million. And anyone that thought that was going to happen was allowing hope to prevail over reason. But you take a step and you begin to see it."
The NBA doled out 24 flopping violations to 19 different players on 13 different teams during the regular season. Five players have received two infractions each, with zero players getting dinged three or more times. During the playoffs, seven players from five different teams have received an infraction, with zero repeat offenders. All told, the policy has resulted in zero suspensions and a total of $60,000 in fines.
Stern said that the goal of the policy wasn't to accumulate massive fines, but to gradually phase in a procedure that could serve as a jumping off point for future discussions.
"There's always a challenge of getting it right," Stern explained. "The point was to do it gently, look at all the flops, and there have been plenty, [and then] penalize the most egregious very gently. We could end [flopping] immediately if we decided to suspend players, but that might be a bit draconian at the moment."
Flopping has had a constant presence in headlines in recent weeks thanks in part to LeBron James, who drew a fine during the Eastern Conference finals against the Pacers.
Stern said that the first year trial has produced enough information to inform decisions on future policy changes but that the decision to enact tougher legislation will be left to the Competition Committee and the Board of Governors.
"I think we have the data," he said. "I don't know if we have the stomach. We'll have to see what happens with the Competition Committee and the Board."
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