Flopping is a silent killer. —Shane Battier
MIAMI — The flop is having an impact on the playoffs, and it's being caught much more than it was in the regular season.
Miami guard Dwyane Wade became the latest recipient of a postseason flopping fine Monday when the NBA ordered him to give up $5,000 after a review showed he over-exaggerated a foul during Game 2 of the finals that was charged to San Antonio's Manu Ginobili.
And there's an ironic twist — Ginobili is often considered a master flopper, but he wasn't even warned once about it this season.
"He took a swipe and he hit me," Wade said Monday, before the fine was announced. "It was a late call by the ref, but he called it."
The league saw it a little differently.
It was the fifth flopping violation of the playoffs, which works out to one in every 17.2 games. The NBA said 35 flops were caught in the regular season, or one in every 35.1 games. Players are not fined in the regular season until their second flop of the year; in the playoffs, every flop is a fine.
"Flopping," Miami guard Shane Battier once said, "is a silent killer."
Well, unless it works.
Wade drew the foul against Ginobili with 4:09 left in the second quarter on Sunday night. Ginobili, who took a big swipe at the ball about 35 feet from the basket, wound up going to the bench with his third foul of the half. Wade went to the line and made the two resulting free throws, since Miami was already in the bonus.
The Heat wound up winning by two points.
"I saw Manu coming out of the corner of my eye to try to steal it so my only thing was to make sure that he didn't steal it," Wade said. "He swiped and he wound up hitting me and the ref called a foul. We move on."
The Heat-Spurs matchup is tied 1-1, with Game 3 in Miami on Tuesday night.
Some of the flops in the playoffs have been almost circuslike acting jobs, including a pair by Indiana guard Lance Stephenson — the official leaguewide leader in flopping this season with two violations in the regular season and two more in the postseason. He's had to pay $20,000 for those flops, or basically about 2 percent of his season's salary.
For Wade, who's made nearly $19 million in salary this season, the $5,000 was mere pocket change. And situations like that were pointed out last year by now-retired NBA Commissioner David Stern, who said the small fine "isn't enough. You're not going to cause somebody to stop it for $5,000 when the average player's salary is $5.5 million."
Stern added then that anyone who thought the fine would stop the flop is allowing "hope to prevail over reason." So it would be no surprise if tougher flopping penalties were at least discussed when the NBA's competition committee when that group meets this summer.
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said he's not surprised that the rate goes up in the playoffs, saying Monday that it could be as simple a reason as "more people in the league office watching each possession."
Besides Stephenson and Wade, the other postseason flop fines have been assessed to Indiana's Roy Hibbert and the Spurs' Tiago Splitter. All of those flops were cited in the conference-final round or later.
Indiana's season ended with a third straight playoff loss to the Heat. And not surprisingly, it wouldn't seem like the Pacers are rooting for their conference member this time of year — a media relations official from East finalists tweeted shortly after the Wade-Ginobili play Sunday that the Heat guard deserved a flopping fine and even made what seemed like a lighthearted plea to the league:
"C'mon NBA, do it for Lance."