Dwight Howard’s comedy tour continues.
This time it didn’t involve voice imitations or recycled iPhone jokes -- the joshing involved the NBA’s new rule penalizing players with fines of up to $30,000 and possible suspensions for excessive flopping.
Howard hardly sounded interested in adding fine money to the NBA Cares charity fund, but he changed his tune when he realized the new rule gave him an opportunity to rectify a charging call Lakers Coach Mike Brown called on him as he went up against Steve Nash during Wednesday’s practice.
“I drove down the lane today and I saw him, and as I was going towards him, I passed the ball to Kobe [Bryant] and [Nash] kind of touched me and said, ‘Ahhhh!’ and fell on the ground,” Howard said. “That’s a flop. And Coach called a charge on me, but he’s going to get fined by me and [NBA Commissioner] David Stern.”
(The situation raises questions about why Brown’s revamped offense would entail Howard driving the lane and passing the ball to Bryant instead of Nash, but I digress.)
I wondered aloud if Howard would air his complaints directly to Nash, considering his teammate stood just a few feet away as Howard talked to reporters.
“Steve, you’re fined,” Howard shouted. “I just got off the phone with David Stern.”
“There’s no videotape in here!” Nash replied. “Sorry, buddy, you’re not going to win this one.”
“Well, there’s no evidence of the flop,” Howard said with a smile, “so the NBA rescinded it.”
It’s unclear whether the league will be as gracious with the new flopping rule. Consider the statement from NBA executive Stu Jackson: "Flops have no place in our game -- they either fool referees into calling undeserved fouls or fool fans into thinking the referees missed a foul call.”
The Lakers interviewed after Wednesdays’ practice all agreed with that sentiment, but they disagreed on how to execute the rule.
Bryant sounded the most vocally supportive: “Shameful flopping, that’s a chump move.” Brown wondered aloud how the NBA could enforce the rule.
Forward Pau Gasol said he supported an anti-flopping rule, but suggested that the NBA should adopt international rules: Referees issue a warning to players before granting the other team two free throws and possession of the ball.
Metta World Peace probably had the most comprehensive reaction toward it all. After spending eight minutes arguing why referees should just police flopping on their own, he used me as a prop to help bolster his argument that even non-NBA players could absorb basic contact.
Still, plenty of the Lakers expressed little concern about whether the rule would affect them.
“We should never get fined, because we don’t have any floppers on our team,” Brown said. “That’s all I’m worried about.”
Well, except, perhaps Howard. He still hopes he can fine Nash despite the lacking video evidence.
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