Phony falls in basketball just got serious. Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has teamed up with biomechanics experts at Southern Methodist University to study "flopping" -- when a player deliberately falls to deceive referees into thinking there's been a foul.
Flopping is considered a widespread problem in basketball. In 2012, the NBA began a system of escalating fines against NBA players suspected of flopping. In fact, the league implemented a special anti-flopping fine system for the current playoffs. (Watch out, Tim Duncan!) Now, NBA commissioner David Stern is considering increasing the penalties.
Right now, the first violation results in a $5,000 fine (check out the full breakdown at NBA.com). If a player violates the anti-flopping rule five times or more, "he will be subject to discipline that is reasonable under the circumstances, including an increased fine and/or suspension."
The problem is, it can be hard to tell whether a player is faking a fall or really got knocked off balance. That’s why Cuban has spent more than $100,000 to fund a research study at SMU in Dallas. Biomechanics expert Peter Weyand, who leads the research team, says, “There has been a lot of research into balance and falls in the elderly, but relatively little on active adults and athletes.”
Researchers will look at how much force is required to cause a legitimate loss of balance and explore the possibility of estimating collision forces by video or other motion capture techniques.
The study was unveiled Friday, the morning after the San Antonio Spurs beat the Miami Heat 92-88 in Game One of the NBA Finals.
After the announcement, Cuban tweeted: "Is it a flop? Let the scientists figure it out. im paying for the research to find out."
Here's a video of what sounds like your 8th grade science teacher highlighting flops from this past NBA season: