Miami Heat forward LeBron James and the Indiana Pacers duo of power forward David West and shooting guard Lance Stephenson have all received $5,000 fines for violating the league's anti-flopping policy, the NBA announced Thursday morning.
First, Stephenson's homage to Indy backcourt predecessor Reggie Miller after brushing into Heat guard Ray Allen following a first-quarter bucket (courtesy of our friends at Beyond the Buzzer):
Then, the fourth-quarter double-flop heard 'round the world:
The penalties come one day after CBSSports.com's Ken Berger reported that the league office was looking at several controversial calls from the Pacers' Game 4 win, which saw 55 personal fouls called, a blown 24-second violation whistled against the Pacers in the third quarter, a dicey final-minute traveling call against Heat guard Dwyane Wade and several arguable decisions against James, who fouled out for just the second time in his postseason career.
James, West and Stephenson are the fifth, sixth and seventh players to receive flopping fines this postseason, joining Derek Fisher, Jeff Pendergraph, J.R. Smith and Tony Allen. No player has yet been charged with a second flopping offense during the postseason, which would trigger a $10,000 fine for a second offense in accordance with the NBA's stricter postseason flopping punishments. Third and fourth violations would cost a player $15,000 and $30,000, respectively.
Before Game 4, James raised eyebrows when he seemed to take a more positive view of flopping than some would expect:
"It hasn't been a problem for many guys at all," James said. "I don't really pay too much attention to it. I think it's been good, I guess." [...]
"Guys have been accustomed to doing it for years, and it's not even a bad thing. You're just trying to get the advantage. Any way you can get the advantage over an opponent to help your team win, then so be it."
The league also assessed West a flagrant-1 on Thursday for his foul against Wade at the 5:57 mark of the fourth quarter, which was called a common foul on the floor at the time:
Given all the physical play, simulation, after-the-fact discussion and eventual league-office righting of wrongs, there's sure to be plenty of focus on the officiating in Thursday's pivotal Game 5. Here's hoping we find ourselves talking more about the players than the referees on Friday morning.