Stephenson becomes the third player to draw a fine this season, joining Rockets guard James Harden and Timberwolves forward Corey Brewer. He is also the first player to have been fined twice for flopping, as he was previously fined $5,000 during the 2013 Eastern Conference finals against the Heat.
The latest bit of embellishment from Stephenson occurred during the fourth quarter of Indiana's 102-94 road victory over Golden State on Monday. With less than two minutes remaining and the Pacers leading 94-90, George Hill lined up a three-pointer from the right angle. Stephenson attempted to crash the offensive boards from the left wing, but Klay Thompson turned his back to the hoop to box him out. Hill's shot wound up going in, but that didn't stop Stephenson from launching himself backwards to the court, as if shoved to the ground by Thompson.
No foul was called on the play, and video review indicated that Stephenson's reaction was not consistent with the level of contact delivered by Thompson, who did raise his forearms as the two players came together.
This type of flop was specifically brought up 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.”
In all, 21 players have been warned for flopping this season: Stephenson, Harden, Brewer, Wizards guard John Wall, Timberwolves forward Kevin Love, Spurs guard Patty Mills, Bucks center Zaza Pachulia, 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, Celtics guard Jerryd Bayless, Rockets forward Chandler Parsons and Heat guard Mario Chalmers.
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.”