A couple weeks after LeBron James said “I don’t need to flop,” the NBA on Thursday fined him $5000 for doing exactly that.
It was the Heat’s first fine for flopping since the league, before the season, instituted a fine system to try to eliminate, or curtail, players from making exaggerated reactions to draw foul calls.
James and Indiana’s David West and Lance Stephenson were fined $5,000 apiece for flopping incidents during Game 4.
James and West were fined for the same play, which happened on an Indiana possession in the fourth quarter. Both were briefly jostling for position when James fell to the court and West made an exaggerated motion, as if he had been aggressively shoved.
James declined to discuss the flopping fine. Asked by a New York reporter if it was earned, he said, “next question.”
West disagreed with the fine: “I know I didn’t flop. I don’t play the game that way. I was trying to post up, and I knew he was trying to draw a foul. The refs let the play go on.”
West suggested James falling was “maybe some gamesmanship.”
On his “flop,” Stephenson reacted as if Ray Allen had elbowed him after Stephenson pushed Allen running down court.
“I thought he was trying to hit me,” Stephenson said after being fined. “It looked like I was flopping, [but there was] no acting.”
Pacers coach Frank Vogel was fined $15,000 for accusing the Heat of flopping before last year’s playoff series and wouldn’t discuss the issue Thursday.
Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau accused the Heat of flopping during their second-round playoff series after James fell to the floor when he was pushed by Nazr Mohammed.
After Thibodeau’s comments, James said: “I don’t need to flop. I play an aggressive game. I don’t flop. I’ve never been one of those guys.”
Earlier this week, when asked about the league’s new flopping policy, James said: “It’s Year One, so you are not just going to go cold turkey. Guys have been accustomed to doing it for years, and it’s not even a bad thing. … Any way you can get the advantage over an opponent to help your team win, then so be it.”
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said of James’ flopping fine: “We accept it. We don’t want the attention to be on the officiating.”
• The NBA upgraded a Game 4 foul on West — committed against Dwyane Wade — from a common foul to a flagrant 1 foul.
West and Pacers center Roy Hibbert said Thursday morning that they must watch their knees when Shane Battier is defending them. Hibbert said he has to “watch” his groin as well.
“Obviously, I don’t like it,” Hibbert said of Battier’s approach. “I don’t want to look back and say I gave into a dirty player. …. It has worked for him in the past. He has to do whatever he has to do to make sure his team wins. … If he has to hit below the belt, do whatever he has to do to win, that’s fine. … It’s not just Battier. Everybody in the league will do whatever it takes to win.”
Asked what he learned defending Battier during last year’s playoffs, West said: “Always have my guard up, protect my knees and try to concentrate on the game. He’s got this funny way of moving into your knees. We’re very conscious of that.
“It’s an irritant. I’m doubly conscious, having an ACL [tear] a year and a half ago. It’s something we talk about, being prepared for anything and everything that he’s going to try. The way he plays, he’s trying to make an impact any way he can.”
Battier hasn’t been the primary defender on Hibbert but has had extended stints guarding West, who at 6-9 and 250 pounds is an inch taller and 32 pounds heavier than Battier.
Battier did not respond to Hibbert’s and West’s comments because he does not speak during media availability 90 minutes before games. But Battier’s wife, Heidi, tweeted: “Pot calling the kettle much?”