Watson's flop occurred in the second quarter of Indiana's 104-91 road loss to Minnesota on Feb. 19. With a little less than nine minutes remaining before halftime and Minnesota leading 36-20, Watson fell backwards to the court while playing on-ball defense against J.J. Barea at the top of the key.
Barea was attempting to set up a high screen-and-roll action but the Pacers crowded the play, and Barea extended his left arm out to clear Watson away from him. Although Barea didn't really deliver a full swing of the arm, Watson launched himself backwards to the court, landing on his backside. Barea was whistled for an offensive foul on the play, even though replays indicated that Watson's reaction was inconsistent with the level of contact he received from Barea's off arm.
This type of flop was specifically brought up in the NBA’s official video introducing its flopping policy. In the video, Clippers guard Chris Paul was defending a drive before he fell backwards dramatically to the ground as if he had been struck by an elbow.
“As the highlighted defensive player, No. 3 in the red uniform, defends the driving offensive player, he feels slight contact and then launches himself back to the floor,” the video’s narrator explained. “This reaction by the defensive player is an over-embellishment of marginal contact and is intended to draw an unearned offensive foul on his opponent.”
Watson becomes the 26th 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, Lakers guard Jodie Meeks, Pacers guard Lance Stephenson, Celtics guard Jerryd Bayless, Rockets forward Chandler Parsons, Heat guard Mario Chalmers, Bucks guard Brandon Knight, Timberwolves guard Kevin Martin, Suns forward P.J. Tucker and Pacers center Ian Mahinmi.
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.” Watson finished with six points (on 3-for-7 shooting), one rebound and one assist against the Timberwolves.