INDIANAPOLIS — LeBron James vehemently denies he’s a flopper but openly recognizes it as an effective strategy.
“Some guys have been doing it for years, just trying to get an advantage,” James said Monday in the lead-up to Tuesday’s Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals. “Any way you can get an advantage over the opponent to help your team win, so be it.”
That position illustrates a friction that’s developed over the past two seasons between James’ Miami Heat and their current opponent, the Indiana Pacers. It’s fair to say the Pacers and the Heat have different views on flopping. One side thinks it’s an art and the other a menace.
The Pacers, who trail the Heat 2-1 in the best-of-seven series, have routinely complained about the Heat’s flopping, mostly to referees during games. Before a playoff series between the teams last season, Pacers coach Frank Vogel was fined $15,000 by the NBA for complaining that officials let the Heat players get away with flopping.
“I think it’s well documented. I’m not for flopping,” Vogel said.
In the last round of the playoffs, Chicago Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau accused James of flopping. James shot back at the comments, saying, “I don’t need to flop. I play an aggressive game. I don’t flop. I’ve never been one of those guys.”
The accusations against the Heat, however, have continued in this series against the Pacers.
“People flop all the time,” Pacers center Roy Hibbert said. “It’s sad to say … not just against the Heat, throughout the whole season.”
During Game 3 on Sunday, Dwyane Wade appeared to be caught exaggerating contact from the Pacers’ Ian Mahinmi when he fell out of bounds after Mahinmi put a hand on Wade’s back. Officials did not call a foul on the play, but the clip of the move spread on the Internet as one of the more egregious cases of the maneuver seen in the postseason.
Any subsequent violations are subject to league discipline. Memphis Grizzlies guard Tony Allen was the fourth player to be issued a fine for flopping during this year’s playoffs. and Derek Fisher of the Oklahoma City Thunder, Jeff Pendergraph of the Indiana Pacers and J.R. Smith of the New York Knicks were each assessed a $5,000 fine.
Still, fines have not seemed to stem the tide. No Heat players were officially warned or fined for flopping during the regular season or in the playoffs.
“It happens,” Wade said. “We would have no NBA possibly if they got rid of all the flopping.”
This article was originally posted on ESPN.com