The Absolute Worst Floppers in All of Sports
Diving, embellishing, simulating…flopping. Whatever you want to call it, it’s a problem. Flopping is not fun to watch, and if the fans don’t like it, then the leagues have a problem. (Can someone please make sure Erik Spoelstra reads this?)
The NBA introduced new anti-flopping rules in 2012, and other leagues have taken notice. The NFL warned its players against fake injuries and the NHL actually tossed around the idea of making a most wanted list.
But despite sports’ best efforts to curb the theatrics, it’s still a major issue. Behold, the worst floppers in sports. These thespians hold themselves to a higher standard—flopping more often, more consistently and of course, more egregiously than their lesser counterparts.
Honorable mentions go to Kyle Lowry, Luis Suarez, Tavon Austin, Chris Paul and this kid.
16. James Harden
The only thing more offensive than James Harden’s beard is his flopping. In 2013, he was spotted taking an obvious dive after grabbing his own rebound against the Los Angeles Clippers. Chill dude—you got the ball.
According to SI.com, the performance represented Harden’s second offense of the 2013-14 season and earned him a $5,000 fine.
15. Cam Newton
Warning: Some of the language here might be NSFW.
It’s not just punters anymore, folks. Young NFL quarterbacks seem to have remembered that roughing the passer is a thing too. Andrew Luck once mysteriously lost his strength of stance and secured a crucial first down in the process.
But Cam Newton’s 2014 playoff flop against the San Francisco 49ers took the cake. Let’s just say his reaction time was a bit…off.
14. Arjen Robben
The Bayern Munich midfielder became the subject of scrutiny back in March 2014 after he appeared to take a couple of dives in a Champions League victory against Arsenal.
ESPN FC reported that in perhaps the most gracious accusation of all time, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said, “Robben is very good at getting the maximum of nothing and he is a great player and as well a very good diver, but it is part of it. He is a fantastic player, I would not deny that, he's one of the best players in the world, but he gets in front of a player and then he slows down and goes down.”
13. Sidney Crosby
Sometimes the better you are, the more abuse you take from opponents. That would be enough to frustrate anyone—just ask King James. But flopping is still flopping. Perhaps Crosby’s most ridiculous performance came at the strong, forceful hand of a…referee. Hey, it’s hard to resist what comes as second-nature, even if the linesman wasn’t likely going to call a penalty on himself.
12. Reggie Evans
Someone had to be the first player to get slapped with an NBA flopping fine after the league instituted its new rules. Might as well have been one of the NBA’s most prolific divers. The offense came against live wire Metta World Peace, but the best part was Mike D’Antoni’s reaction.
11. Emmanuel Sanders
Deon Grant, a former safety for the New York Giants, pretty much opened the can of fake-injury worms with an atrocious flop (that he denies) against the St. Louis Rams in 2011. Since then, the NFL has issued warnings against faking injures as a means of gaining strategic advantage.
That is why Emmanuel Sanders should’ve known better than to basically just sit down outside the huddle in an apparent effort to give his quarterback some rest.
The wide receiver was fined $15,000 by the league and $35,000 by his own team. That’s what he gets for trying to protect his quarterback? Geez Pittsburgh.
10. Derek Jeter
Before the new home-plate collision rule was established, being hit by a pitch was pretty much the closest thing MLB had to contact fouls. And what have we learned about contact sports? Where there are fouls, there are flops.
Derek Jeter appears on this list in a rare instance of criticism not related to his romantic life. In a 2010 game against the Tampa Bay Rays, Jeter was “hit by a pitch” and took his base—although he later implied what video evidence made clear—he faked it.
Jeter told a reporter after the game, “My job is to try to get on base. You know, it’s part of the game.”
If Pele thinks you’re a diver, you’re probably a diver. But at least Pele also thinks Neymar is working on it.
Alex Labidou of ESPN FC reported Pele’s comment regarding the 22-year-old Barcelona forward, “I think he tries to create fouls and situations that are not there. But now he got much better because in Europe, things are different.”
8. Rajon Rondo
Rondo received a warning from the NBA in April 2014 (per SI.com) for a dive he took against the Atlanta Hawks. Apparently Jeff Teague has super powers because he was able to knock Rondo over without even touching him. He also did it without being called for a foul—magical.
7. Lance Stephenson
Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, gimme your money. SI.com reported that the NBA fined the Indiana Pacers’ Lance Stephenson $5,000 for a second violation of the league’s anti-flopping policy in the 2013-14 season. That fine also made him the first player ever to be fined twice—his theatrics in the 2013 Eastern Conference Finals also cost him five Gs.
6. Marcus Smart
Flopping isn’t just for professionals. Oklahoma State guard Marcus Smart took some heat early in 2014 for flopping not once but twice in a game against Iowa State. Iowa State’s student section responded with a brilliantly choreographed super-diss at the team’s next meeting.
Smart told ESPN.com’s Jeff Goodman, “I'm not the only one flopping. Every team and every player does it to make sure you get the call."
Maybe he’s just trying to increase his chances of being drafted by the Miami Heat.
It’s tough to deny this group's big-time flopping status. As Kevin Huber taught us, going anywhere near a punter is pretty much illegal. And since even the faintest bit of contact is likely to draw a penalty for roughing the kicker, it certainly would behoove these gentlemen to…exaggerate from time to time.
“The key is to not look like you’re acting, but it seems like most guys look like they’re acting,” Broncos punter Britton Colquitt told Eddie Pells of the Associated Press.
4. Ryan Kesler
In soccer they call it “simulation," and in hockey they call it “embellishment.” According to the NHL Official Rules, “Any player who blatantly dives, embellishes a fall or a reaction, or who feigns an injury shall be penalized with a minor penalty under this rule.”
At an NHL Rules Summit during the 2012-13 lockout, attendees discussed this issue and noted Ryan Kesler as a repeat offender, as reported by Darren Dreger of TSN.
Come on, maybe they should cut the guy a break. Ice is slippery.
3. Gareth Bale
According to TSM Plug, Real Madrid’s forward has been issued the most yellow cards for simulation—aka diving, aka flopping—in the English Premier League since 2008.
FIFA president Sepp Blatter expressed his disdain for simulation in a January 2014 issue of FIFA Weekly, saying, “I find this deeply irritating, especially when the (supposedly) half-dead player comes back to life as soon as they have left the pitch.”
2. Manu Ginobili
Back in 2010, NBA players themselves voted Ginobili the second biggest flopper in the league, according to Sports Illustrated. Ginobili has had a long and storied career of flopping in the NBA, and his continued success indicates that he takes his craft very seriously.
In fact, Ginobili is so committed to the art of deception that, as NESN points out, he may have actually gone as far as to hurt himself in the act of flopping—that is real dedication there, people.
1. Miami Heat
It would probably be a cop out to just list all of the Miami Heat players individually on this list, right? Yet, it would be also be a great disservice to readers if Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Shane Battier, Mario Chalmers or Chris Bosh were left off.
King James has taken a lot of criticism for flopping over the years, but it’s not just him. Dwyane Wade’s Finals rebound flop, Mario Chalmers’ theatrics defending Blake Griffin, Shane Battier’s special Duke-branded flopping—all are deserving of a high ranking. Indiana Pacers head coach Frank Vogel once called the Heat “the biggest flopping team in the NBA,” according to Tom Haberstroh of ESPN.com.
There must be something in the water down there in South Beach.