It is infuriating to see, but flopping has become an enormous part of the modern game. Throughout NBA history, many players have managed to exaggerate contact to their advantage, and this has encouraged younger players to come through and master flopping to gain an edge over the opposition. By doing so, however, these floppers sometimes do not command respect from the opposition, fans and even teammates. Flopping fines have been introduced, but this has done little to discourage players and it is still very much a problem in the game. Here are 10 of the worst floppers throughout NBA history.
10. Robert Horry
When you mention the name Robert Horry to any NBA fan, it is likely that the first thing that will spring to mind will be his huge game winning shots in the playoffs and the impressive seven championship rings. He was also one of the biggest floppers that the NBA has seen, however, and this was usually on the defensive end and particularly when setting screens on a guard. One great example of this was a flop in the Western Conference Finals against the Jazz in 2007, where under minimal contact from Carlos Boozer, Horry flung himself backwards and slid across the floor which successfully fooled the referee. Horry also had a penchant for flopping even when matched up against smaller players (Horry often filled in the small forward role), which is disappointing to see, as at 6’9″ and 240 lbs you should not be easily knocked to the ground.
9. Derek Fisher
Another player whose clutch playing and success (five rings) often glossed over his penchant for flopping, Derek Fisher throughout his career would heavily exaggerate any physical contact to get a call. Fisher was a particularly strong and muscular point guard, which makes it even stranger to see him flung to the ground under minimal contact from a guard 20 lbs lighter than him. Of course, Fisher also had no problem initiating contact with his opponent as well, but if they were to initiate any contact then he would theatrically fall to the floor. This made him an infuriating player to play against, particularly because he was an experienced veteran who knew exactly what he was doing and had mastered the art over a very successful 18 year career. Although this was not an attractive side to his game, Fisher still commands the utmost respect because of his experience.
8. Karl Malone
On the offensive end, Karl Malone was a bruising player who seemed to thrive on getting physical and barraging through defenders (and he had the frame to do this with ease). This helped him to score the second most points in NBA history (plus playing with John Stockton), but strangely it was a completely different case on the other end of the floor. Whilst playing defense, it was common sight to see Malone rolling around on the floor and complaining about the physical play to the referee. He would fall to the floor under minimal contact, and because of his size, strength and physical play on offense, he would often get the benefit of the doubt from officials. Whilst there is no denying Malone’s ability, both he and Stockton would play dirty on both ends of the floor and would not hesitate to exaggerate contact to get the call.
7. Danny Ainge
Danny Ainge deserves a tremendous amount of respect and is an iconic NBA player that was a key figure in Boston throughout the ’80s (picking up two rings). He developed a reputation as a hard-nosed player, and he had no problem picking a fight with a player much bigger than him (most notably 7’1″ Tree Rollins in 1983). Although was known as a hard-nosed player, he was also frustrating because he would constantly complain to referees about calls not going his way. This ensured that the refs kept a close eye on him, and this is when he would begin to flop theatrically under the smallest amount of contact (usually on the offensive end). Flopping was not a huge problem in the game at this time, and consequently every player on this list will have learnt from Ainge and seen how he would exaggerate contact to his advantage.
6. Shane Battier
Earlier in his career, Shane Battier was known as an elite defender and a player with high basketball IQ. Sadly, towards the end of his career (most notably at Miami), Battier’s role was to step in front of those attacking the basket to draw offensive fouls. He had a great ability to anticipate where a player was going, but the way in which he went out looking to take charges was dangerous, as he would often sprint from the weak side to step in at the last second. This is a reckless way to play and it is surprising that nobody was injured in any of these incidents. He would also greatly exaggerate contact later in his career, and most appearances would see him spend more time flat out on his back than on his feet. Unfortunately, this lost him a lot of respect.
5. Reggie Miller
Perhaps the most infuriating player to grace the hardwood, Reggie Miller knew exactly what he was doing and enjoyed nothing more than getting under his opponent’s skin throughout his 18 year career in Indiana. With a stick-figure frame, it made flopping come easy for Miller, but he would still hit the deck after the tiniest amount of contact and whine to the referee for the entirety of a game. One of the biggest problems in today’s game is three-point shooters sticking out their legs on shots or faking contact to attempt four-point plays or to get three free-throws, and this was a classic Miller move. Of course, in addition to his flopping and whining, Reggie was also famed for his relentless trash-talking and all of this made him a nightmare to play against. Love him or hate him, there is no denying Miller was great at what he did.
4. Manu Ginobili
He may be extremely talented, likeable, a tough competitor, unselfish and a four-time NBA champion, but not even San Antonio fans can disagree with the fact that Manu Ginobili is a huge flopper. The way in which he plays his entire game is naturally very theatrical, but, unfortunately, if there is any physical contact Ginobili will hit the deck hard and is known to flail his limbs around in the air in an attempt to get the call. He has an incredibly high basketball IQ which can make him a joy to watch, but it also breeds a slightly less attractive side to his game as he knows how to draw fouls and get to the free-throw line (where he shoots a very high percentage). You have to respect Ginobili and there is no denying his talent, but flopping has also been a large part of his game.
3. Anderson Varejao
Amongst Big Men in the NBA, nobody commands less respect than Anderson Varejao. If you play in the power forward or center position, it is expected that you are able to withstand some physicality and the best Big Men will thrive on this. Anderson Varejao spends the majority of games rolling around on the floor after a slight bump, and he visibly looks upset anytime that things get physical in the slightest down low. He whines to the referee like a child telling the teacher, and the fact that his hair flops around makes it a lot more dramatic and noticeable. He successfully manages to draw a lot of charges because of this (and, to be fair, he does anticipate well), but he is very limited offensively. In the more physical era with Shaq, Hakeem, Ewing, Robinson, Mourning and Barkley, Varejao would not have got on the court.
2. Bill Laimbeer
Much like a few of the other players on this list, Bill Laimbeer was a very hard-nosed and aggressive player, but also one that irritatingly flopped and so much so that “The Laimbeer flop” became a common sight. Laimbeer was a key player in the notorious “Bad Boys” Pistons team, and being somewhat limited, his main role was to rough up opponents and get under their skin. He would not hesitate to commit hard fouls, but would then greatly exaggerate contact when it was initiated by an opponent. His ability to enrage opponents made him a fan favorite in Detroit, but everywhere else he was hated and is one of the most disliked players in NBA history (similar to Reggie Miller). He may be hated, but he was extremely good at what he did and picked up two NBA championships along the way.
1. Vlade Divac
When discussing flopping, many NBA fans will point their finger at Vlade Divac, and he certainly became notorious for it throughout his 16 year career. Most notable were his encounters with Shaq, as Divac would frequently throw himself to the floor as soon as Shaq initiated any contact, and this created a rivalry between the two. He would often get calls to go his way, and soon other Big Men who were not particularly quick or strong started to take notice and incorporate this into their game. Although Divac certainly shoulders some of the blame, he is also responsible for plenty of great things in the NBA, and he paved the way for many other European players to come through and consequently helped to revolutionize the game. One of the greatest passing Big Men, he was also one of the biggest and first floppers to play in the NBA.