Wizards

Let the flop policing begin

Let the flop policing begin

It's not just the flopping that the NBA is trying to squash.

It's Reggie Evans looking like he was zapped by about 10,000 volts of electricity when Memphis guard Tony Allen's arm hit him while Evans - yes, Evans - was setting a screen.

It's Dwyane Wade trying to trick the referees by flinging his leg out on a jumpshot and falling to the ground when it makes contact with Celtics guard Mikael Pietrus.

It's Danilo Gallinari ``flailing'' and holding his face in a soccer-style, ``gross over-embellishment'' - the league's own words - after running into a screen by the Lakers' Pau Gasol.

Those were some of the examples the NBA used in a video sent to players and teams describing what exactly will be subject to fines this season in the first year of a new program aimed at curbing the kind of deceptive, and sometimes downright laughable, acting jobs that made Ray Allen's performance in ``He Got Game'' appear Oscar-worthy.

And the video didn't even include the hilarious attempted double dupe from Oklahoma City's James Harden and San Antonio's Manu Ginobili on the same play in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals last season.

Floppers beware. The league is coming for you, and your money, this season.

The NBA season begins on Tuesday with three games - Washington at Cleveland, Boston at Miami and Dallas at the Los Angeles Lakers - and for the first time, the players will face the possibility of stiff punishment for trying to trick the referees into a foul that wasn't warranted. Commissioner David Stern issued an edict that he hopes will make flopping go the way of the four-corner offense and the short shorts.

The tactic has been prevalent for years - Pacers sharpshooter Reggie Miller and Kings center Vlade Divac were among the more creative floppers of the previous generation - as players looked for any edge they could get to swing the outcome in their favor. At full speed and with bodies everywhere, determining which players were flopping and which were making good basketball plays in the blink of an eye proved to be incredibly difficult for referees.

The league is trying to give them some help.

Officials will monitor games and review plays that could have included an egregious flop after the game is over. Everyone gets one warning, but after that, the bills start piling up. The second offense will cost a player $5,000, a third will go to $10,000. Four flops and it's $15,000 and a fifth will be a whopping $30,000.

``I hope that they give the offensive floppers the same amount of time and dedication that they're going to to the defensive floppers,'' said Heat forward Shane Battier, who has been accused of flopping ever since his days at Duke at the turn of the century. ``Because flopping's a problem. Flopping is a silent killer. It really is a silent killer. It'll be interesting to see how they administer that.''

Some think it's been a long time coming. Miller pioneered the move that Wade used in that video, kicking his leg out as he released his jumper to draw contact and try to force a call from an official. Paul Pierce has attempted over 8,500 free throws in his career thanks in part to coercing officials into blowing a whistle as he drives to the basket. And Divac nearly led the Kings to an upset of the Lakers while hitting the deck every time Shaquille O'Neal even brushed against him in the paint.

``Back in the '80s, they didn't flop,'' said the Lakers' Metta World Peace. ``Flopping is very stupid. It's not even basketball. I don't know who taught people to flop. It's ridiculous. Just make the right call. But it's not my league. I think it looks bad on TV, too. When you're in the playoffs and somebody flops, and there's all this money on the line, it's terrible.''

While many players, coaches and fans have come out as vocal proponents of the new measures, it's still unclear how the process will work.

Which flops will be deemed worthy of punishment and which will be allowed to slide? Which types of flops will draw the most attention? Trying to draw charges on defense? Embellishing in hopes of getting to the free throw line on offense?

Everyone is about to start finding out.

``My fear is that they're going to find some fresh Harvard Business School intern in the league office to be the flop reviewer - flop czar, the flop czar! - fresh out of the HBS and his or her highest level of basketball probably will be intramural,'' Battier said. ``And they're making some potentially lucrative financial decisions. So I don't know. I don't know how they're going to administer it.''

The system will likely evolve as the season goes on, and players will adjust. But it will take some time.

``It'll mess up a lot of people's games,'' Kings big man DeMarcus Cousins said. ``Maybe some of these All-Stars won't be All-Stars after that.''

It certainly is a label that applies to some of the game's biggest stars, including a few on the Heat as they marched to the championship last season.

``I don't know how they're going to gauge what's a flop and what's not a flop,'' LeBron James said. ``Sometimes it's obvious, but it doesn't change my approach, honestly. I think it'll be good in the paint, though. When you're posting guys up and guys know they're smaller than you, they just take one bump and they already know before you even touch them the next time that they're going to automatically fall.''

With all this in mind, here are a few candidates who may have a little flop sweat, so to speak, as they prepare to play under these new guidelines:

-Anderson Varejao, F/C, Cavaliers: The big Brazilian has long been one of the league's most prolific floppers, letting loose with loud screams each time he's hit and falls to the floor. ``I'm not flopping anymore,'' Varejao said with a smile on media day. ``I used to flop a little bit.''

-Harden, G, Rockets: Whether he was snapping his head back while hitting a screen on defense or flying to the deck on a drive to the basket on offense, the savvy Harden has quickly gained a reputation for flopping. Now that he'll be getting more minutes as a starter in Houston, will that equate to more flops? ``It was bound to happen at some point,'' he said. ``Obviously, the league got fed up with it and they put it in. I'm happy they did.''

-Ginobili, G, Spurs: The Argentinian's roots in that soccer-mad country can be seen in his approach on the court, where the lefty flops every chance he can get.

-JJ Barea, G, Timberwolves: The diminutive spark plug has had to use any means necessary to succeed against bigger competition, and he knows that ``absolutely'' people across the league consider him a flopper. ``''I'm going to play the same way since I was a kid, so whatever happens, happens,'' he said.

---

AP Sports Writers Tim Reynolds in Miami, Greg Beacham in Los Angeles, Antonio Gonzalez in Sacramento, Calif., Tom Withers in Cleveland and Jeff Latzke in Oklahoma City contributed to this report.

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Bradley Beal makes most of his opportunity in first All-Star Game

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Associated Press

Bradley Beal makes most of his opportunity in first All-Star Game

Bradley Beal may have had a slow start in the three-point contest on Saturday night, but in Sunday's All-Star Game he worked quickly to make the most of his relatively small window of playing time.

Beal checked in for the first time with 5:45 left in the first quarter and less than 25 seconds later had his first points on a two-handed dunk assisted by LeBron James.

In his All-Star debut, Beal helped lead Team LeBron to a 148-145 victory over Team Stephen as the league utilizied a new format for the annual showcase.

RELATED: BEAL BOUNCED EARLY IN THREE-POINT CONTEST

Beal finished with 14 points and a steal in a productive night. He shot 5-for-10 from the field and an impressive 4-for-8 from long range. 

Beal also tried to get a travelling call from the refs on Karl-Anthony Towns. Yeah, that's not likely to happen in an All-Star Game:

Beal more than held his own and only played 16 minutes, which was good considering he has logged the fifth-most minutes of any player so far this season. A realistic best-case scenario was a strong showing and a short night and that's exactly what he got.

Not only does Beal play a lot of minutes, the Wizards need him now more than ever with John Wall's injury. He needs whatever rest he can get during this All-Star break.

Speaking of Wall, he was in the house despite being in the middle of his rehab from left knee surgery. Per usual, Wall was shining bright:

RELATED: BEST WIZARDS/BULLETS MOMENTS ON ALL-STAR SATURDAY NIGHT

The All-Star Game wasn't all about Beal, of course. Here are some other things that stood out...

*The new format and increased financial incentive were intended to make the game more competitive and that's what happened late in the fourth quarter. Usually, that's how these things go where the players will start trying at the end. But this time it seemed to be up a few levels and it was fun to watch. 

Both teams scored in the 140s, so it wasn't exactly a defensive battle. No matter what the league does, the players will only try so hard for so long. The main goal of everyone's is to not get injured in a game that ultimately doesn't count for anything. Still, this was different and appears to have been a success.

*While everyone was focusing on the reunion of LeBron and Kyrie Irving the best beef was Joel Embiid vs. Russell Westbrook. Those two have traded waves to taunt each other at the end of wins in head-to-head matchups and it was clear on Sunday they still don't like each other. Westbrook tried to dunk all over Embiid in the first half, only to get blocked at the rim.

Westbrook's determination to dunk on Embiid was out of the ordinary for an All-Star Game. It was obvious what was on his mind:

*Irving's handles are simply ridiculous. Check out this fake behind-the-back move he pulled with Giannis Antetkounmpo guarding him. Yes, it didn't fool the defender but it was impressive nonetheless:

*LeBron is 33 years old, yet he was still running up and down the court faster than anyone and leaping above the rim to thrown down alley-oop after alley-oop. It is truly amazing and everyone should enjoy watching him while they can, regardless of whether they like the guy or not.

This was one of his dunks:

LeBron took home MVP with a game-high 29 points, 10 rebounds, eight assists and a steal.

*The pregame show was quite bad. It was anchored by comedians Kevin Hart and Rob Riggle and, though they had some funny jokes, it lasted nearly 30 minutes. The whole thing was pretty much universally panned on social media. Fergie's national anthem was also roasted by the masses.

*The halftime show was much better. It began with N.E.R.D taking it back to their older days with 'Lapdance,' went to Migos performing 'Stir Fry' and swung back to N.E.R.D. who did their latest hit 'Lemon.' 

RELATED: LATEST 2018 NBA MOCK DRAFT

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The NBA All-Star pregame introductions were, uh, something

The NBA All-Star pregame introductions were, uh, something

Whoever put together the NBA All-Star Game player introductions has some 'splainin to do. 

The NBA introduced a kinda-full Staples Center to their 2018 All-Stars about an hour ago, and boy was it weird. There were a lot of dancers in different themed costumes. Kevin Hart was screaming. Rob Riggle was screaming. Ludacris showed up? Hey! Did you know that the Barenaked Ladies are still a band? The NBA would like you to know they're still around.  The whole thing was like when you're at an art museum and you're told that abstract piece in the corner is actually really meaningful but you gotta be honest, you don't get it. 

Anyways, the internet hated it. Here are some highlights from the internet hating it:

The lesson here is that you never need Kevin Hart and Rob Riggle. One will do.