Following the San Antonio Spurs' Game 2 win over the Memphis Grizzlies on Tuesday, our own Eric Freeman wondered whether Grizzlies guard Tony Allen — renowned throughout the league as one of the toughest, most physical, hardest-nosed players in the game — faked the severity of any injury he might have sustained when fouled on a layup attempt in the final minute of regulation by Spurs guard Manu Ginobili. In case you've forgotten what went down, watch it again:
After coughing up the ball for an Allen runout, Ginobili raced back, grabbed Allen's left forearm and pulled him down to the ground. It was a hard fall, but Allen appeared to get both of his hands down in front of him to break it; after impact, though, he grabbed his head with both hands and began writhing along the baseline in apparent pain. The referees on the scene called a flagrant foul, headed over to the replay monitor to review the incident and, despite widespread perception that Allen had embellished things, upheld the call, granting Allen two free throws (which he made) and the Grizzlies another offensive possession (with which they tied the game and forced overtime).
While the officials on the scene apparently saw nothing untoward in Allen's behavior, after a couple of days to review the play, the league office begged to differ. The NBA announced Friday afternoon that Allen has been fined $5,000 for violating the league's anti-flopping policy with his embellishment on the play.
Allen now joins Derek Fisher, Jeff Pendergraph and J.R. Smith as the only players penalized for simulation this postseason; should Allen run afoul of the league's flopping rules again, he'll have to cough up $10,000 for a second offense, $15,000 for a third and $30,000 for a fourth violation, in accordance with the NBA's stricter postseason flopping punishments.
It seems kind of weird to accept that the play could result in penalties for both Ginobili and Allen — on the face of it, it would seem that if the officials thought Allen oversold the degree of the contact, then Ginobili's foul shouldn't have been ruled a flagrant, and that if it was indeed a flagrant foul, then Allen shouldn't be punished for reacting strongly to a hard fall. However, as our man Freeman wrote after the play, the two don't necessarily need to be mutually exclusive:
The NBA has expanded its definition of flagrant fouls in recent seasons with the goal of keeping players safe. While players like Ginobili certainly aren't actively trying to injure players at the rim, the fact is that certain kinds of plays are more dangerous than others.
[...] under the NBA's now-standard enforcement of flagrant fouls, this play qualifies as a dangerous action with the potential to injure. Allen looked like he sold the contact beyond its apparent impact, but that doesn't mean the play was perfectly safe.
After review of the play, the referees judged Ginobili's contact — grabbing an airborne Allen's arm and pulling him to the ground — to be "unnecessary," and deserving of a flagrant foul. After review of the aftermath, the league office judged Allen's reaction "inconsistent with the degree of contact received on the play, and deserving of a flopping fine. It can be both. Maybe it shouldn't be, but the way the rules are written, it can be, and as a result, the Grizzlies' top grit-and-grind guard is out five grand.