NBA’s anti-flopping rules could be headed to arbitration

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At the conclusion of the NBA’s Board of Governors meetings last week in Las Vegas, in addition to announcing a few minor rule changes, David Stern said that the anti-flopping rules that were in place for last season will continue without alteration.

“There was a report on our flopping rules and the competition committee thought they were working well and didn’t recommend any changes to them,” Stern said.

Just how well they’re working is certainly debatable. But the fact that the league has a policy in place for disciplining its players that wasn’t collectively bargained with the National Basketball Players Association (i.e., the union) may be cause for legal action.

From Ken Berger of CBSSports.com:

“We are now in the process of scheduling a case with our arbitrator to determine whether the NBA is allowed to unilaterally impose discipline in an area that exceeds the commissioner’s authority without the consent of the union,” NBPA interim executive director Ron Klempner told CBSSports.com on Tuesday. “It’s a subject they need to bargain with us, and we hope that the arbitrator will find that any type of discipline must be collectively bargained.”

When the league imposed the new flopping penalties, NBA spokesman Tim Frank said: “Our adoption of an anti-flopping rule is fully consistent with our rights and obligations under the collective bargaining agreement and the law.”

It’s a complicated situation legally speaking, even though it seems like from a practical standpoint that the league should be able to implement something like this without much resistance.

The fines associated with flopping don’t even start until a player’s second offense of the regular season, and are so minimal in relation to an NBA salary that the financial component has yet to prove to be a deterrent to the behavior, and likely won’t impact it anytime soon.

The public shaming of players who receive warnings is honestly more likely to curtail the behavior, although with a game or a playoff series on the line, don’t think for a second that players will hesitate to try to sell a call to an official in order to help their team gain a momentary advantage.