The NBA has instituted a new rule that allows officials to hand out technical fouls for flops this season, and we’ve already seen a few handed out in the first two nights of the season.
The goal of the flopping technicals is to provide something more punitive than the warnings and fine system that clearly did not have the intended effect when put into place a few years ago. The problem is, because they are penalties that can genuinely impact the games, the impact of a wrong call is much greater and will have players, teams, and fans very upset. We got one such instance on Wednesday when Jalen Brunson was hit with a flopping T in the fourth quarter after falling to the ground after a three-point attempt where he pretty clearly landed on Jayson Tatum’s foot.
This was a technical on Jalen Brunson… sorry?? pic.twitter.com/eWnwAIUBdQ
— Teg (@IQfor3) October 26, 2023
On Thursday, the NBA’s official referee account retweeted the video and admitted they got the call wrong, but not before making clear there can be a flop and a foul on the same play — making for a bit of a non-apology apology.
We missed the foot to foot contact which should have resulted in a personal foul and reviewed for flagrant. Had no foot to foot contact existed, this type of secondary and theatrical movement by Brunson would meet the criteria for a non-unsportsmanlike technical foul for… https://t.co/aPZJiARfiS
— NBA Referees (@OfficialNBARefs) October 26, 2023
Given a flagrant on Tatum for being in Brunson’s landing area would’ve resulted in three free throws and the ball rather than the technical free throw Tatum made, that could’ve been a massively different swing in that moment. It very possibly could’ve been a four-point difference on the scoreboard, which given it was a two-point game at the time and the final score was 108-104 is a pretty big deal. It’ll be interesting to see how the flopping T’s end up being handed out as the season goes on, because if there are enough that end up being wrongly given, refs might look to only penalize the most egregious of them to avoid this kind of situation. If that’s the case, then the rule probably will end up about as successful in curbing flopping as the fine system was.