If you've watched at least one NBA game in the past two years voiced by former coach-turned-commentator Jeff Van Gundy, it's likely you've heard an espousal on flopping, the exaggerative act meant to highlight often incidental contact that sometimes fools the referee into issuing a sham foul against the other team.
The problem has apparently grown so intrinsic in the league that Mavericks owner Mark Cuban's Radical Hoops Ltd. has ponied up $100,000 to help Southern Methodist University biomechanics experts study the act.
See, NBA rules prohibit an offensive player from mowing over a defender who has his feet planted firmly in place. Called a charge, the propulsion from the ball handler's body often results in the defender losing that solid footing, catapulting him to the hardwood.
But, in 1976, as chronicled in this Grantland piece, Rockets guard Mike Newlin executed one of the earliest flops against Celtics forward Dave Cowens, gliding in front of him on his way to the basket before whipping his own body to the floor after minute contact.
It's all been downhill from there. Why, they're even becoming choreographed and synchronized: just check this remarkable double flop orchestrated by Kevin Martin and Derek Fisher of the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The NBA brass has started fining players who blatantly flop. And should this not be enough evidence for how ridiculous the situation has become, just ask Cuban, who's clearly aiming to help rid the NBA of this insidious trend.
“The issues of collisional forces, balance and control in these types of athletic settings are largely uninvestigated,” wrote SMU biomechanics expert Peter G. Weyand in a release announcing the study. “There has been a lot of research into balance and falls in the elderly, but relatively little on active adults and athletes.”
The study will apparently research the forces involved in "typical basketball collisions," analyzing the proper amount of force in real examples of impact compared to what's exerted in this flopping nonsense. Once this is determined, the researchers will try and apply the findings to video reviews of the plays in question to determine the valid from the flop. Seriously.
Says the release, "The research findings could conceivably contribute to video reviews of flopping and the subsequent assignment of fines."
And another Weyand quote: “It may be possible to enhance video reviews by adding a scientific element, but we won’t know this until we have the data from this study in hand.”
The $100,000 will fund the study for 18 months.