Stephenson's flop occurred in the second quarter of Indiana's 86-79 home victory over Toronto on Tuesday. Stephenson battled for a defensive rebound after DeMar DeRozan's three-point attempt, and the ball was batted toward the baseline, with Raptors guard Kyle Lowry also giving chase. As the two players came together just shy of the out-of-bounds line, Stephenson flailed his body and raised his arms as he launched himself off-balance, suggesting with his motion that Lowry had shoved him in the back.
The referees assessed a foul to Lowry, but replays indicated that Stephenson's reaction was inconsistent with the light level of contact on the play.
This type of flop was specifically called out in the NBA’s official video introducing its flopping policy. In the video, then-Hawks forward Josh Smith fell quickly to the ground while fighting for a rebound with then-Celtics forward Paul Pierce after getting pushed in the back.
“As the highlighted defensive player prepares for a potential rebound, he feels slight contact from his opponent in his back,” the narrator explains. “He then falls forward and collapses to the floor in an obvious over-embellishment. The actions of the player in the white uniform are inconsistent with the level of contact on the play and is designed to draw an unearned loose ball foul on his opponent. Again, this flop will be penalized.”
Stephenson becomes the 18th player warned for flopping this season, joining Wizards guard John Wall, Timberwolves forwards Kevin Love and Corey Brewer, Spurs guard Patty Mills, Bucks center Zaza Pachulia, Rockets guard James Harden, Knicks guard Iman Shumpert, Clippers guard Chris Paul, Cavaliers center Anderson Varejao, Celtics forward Jared Sullinger, Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki, Bobcats guard Gerald Henderson, Warriors forward/center Marreese Speights, Sixers guard Tony Wroten, Bulls forward Taj Gibson, Pistons guard Brandon Jennings and Lakers guard Jodie Meeks.
Instituted before the 2012-13 season, the NBA's anti-flopping system provides one free warning to players before they are subjected to a scaling set of monetary fines.
- Violation 1: Warning
- Violation 2: $5,000 fine
- Violation 3: $10,000 fine
- Violation 4: $15,000 fine
- Violation 5: $30,000 fine
- Violation 6: Subject to discipline reasonable under the circumstances, including an increased fine and/or suspension
The NBA assigned 24 flopping violations to 19 different players on 13 different teams during the 2012-13 regular season. Five players received two infractions each, earning fines totaling $25,000, with zero players getting dinged three or more times.
During the 2013 playoffs, the NBA removed the free warning and began assessing fines. Although commissioner David Stern said that the league's current policy "isn't enough" to curb the practice, the league did not adopt any changes to the policy during the offseason.
The NBA defines flopping as "any physical act that, following review, reasonably appears to be intended to cause the game officials to call a foul on another player" with the “primary factor” in determining a flop being whether “a player’s physical reaction to contact with another player is inconsistent with what would reasonably be expected given the force or direction of the contact.” Video via YouTube user Jared Wade