Though such a penalty was one fans weren't necessarily used to seeing, it was indeed the right call. Earlier this week, the D-League announced that it would be assisting the NBA by exploring an experimental flopping rule in the minor league.
RidiculousUpside.com recently caught up with Vice President of Basketball Operations and Player Personnel Chris Alpert to break down the rule itself, and discuss how such experimental procedures strengthen the relationship between the D-League and NBA overall.
"It's an experimental flopping rule in the D-League. Non-unsportsmanlike technical fouls will be assessed to players, who in the judgement of the referees, commit a flop. This means making a physical act or movement that is not natural, in the hopes of drawing a call. We've seen this a lot in the NBA, and now we're going to see how it affects the game in the D-League," Alpert said as he began to explain the new in-game penalty.
He continued, "It'll all be reviewed by instant reply -- they won't stop play in the first 46 minutes of the game. They're going to let play go, and there will be a signal to the table. If there's a flop that's been identified, the referees will review it at the first two-minute timeout, or at a period break. That'll happen through the first 46 minutes, so there's no undue delay."
"In the last two minutes of the game, they'll review it right away because that's closer to the end, and could have an impact on the outcome of a game. We feel it's necessary to confirm or reverse that call right away, when it comes down to the last two minutes or overtime of a game."
Interestingly enough, one would think that examining such fouls in two different ways would also further help the league determine what works better in general.
In addition, this means more pressure on referees. Still, Alpert asserted that such officials are ready for more responsibility. He added, "This will further train our officials to get to the NBA, because that's what they're all trying to do. This is great training with instant reply, too, because that's also something we're experimenting with in the D-League. At the end of the day, we want to ensure that the calls are correct, and our officials are doing a great job with that this year. This is a great tremendous opportunity for the officials and those in other operations to further their training, because they have to be able to identify flopping in the NBA."
As flopping continues to become increasingly prevalent in The Association, such an experiment in the D-League could prove to have a major impact on how the game is played in future years. Being counted on as sort of a springboard for the NBA is something the minor league undoubtedly prides itself on.
"As the NBA's minor league, we're the research and development department for the NBA. If there's something the [league] wants to look at -- not just rules -- it could be something that we've all seen in the D-League before the NBA," Alpert asserted. "We saw that new light-weight uniforms were tested in the D-League first. The Spalding rim/backboard expansions were tested in the D-League first. We're currently looking at the live ball rule, where once the ball hits the rim, it's live and can be touched. There are some rules that have been tested, but that's what the D-League is here for. We're not only here to develop talent for the next level, but we're also trying to improve and further the game."
Alpert continued by praising those around him for their hard work as the NBA leans on the D-League as a place to experiment. He said, "It's extremely encouraging and rewarding to work so closely with the NBA's Basketball Operations group. Our team here that helps run the NBA Development League-- Dan Reed, Shawn Smith, and Joanna Shapiro--we're very much tied into a lot of NBA groups. It's great to call upon their expertise as we try and grow this league to be the best minor league for the game of basketball and assist the league anyway we can."
The NBA trade deadline just passed, and the D-League one (March 7th) is steadily approaching. From there, the minor league basketball season will steamroll into the postseason. But the fun doesn't stop there for Alpert, who plays a role in many facets of the NBADL.
"As the Vice President of Basketball Operations and Player Personnel, I oversee everything that we see on the basketball court. In addition, we here at the league office scout, recruit, and sign all players to the D-League," the executive said. "Now, the teams assist a lot with that as well with their own recruiting efforts. But players ultimately sign contracts with the league."
He concluded, On the operations side of things, I oversee everything you see on the court, like ensuring the equipment and arena standards are up to date for both teams. I work closely with Referee Operations on overseeing the officials. And on the unlikely chance that there's an incident on the court, my department oversees any discipline that needs to be handed down."
Thanks to Alpert and those around him who have a sharp eye for intriguing young talent, NBA fans have been treated to fun and surprising success stories (like Jeremy Lin and Danny Green, of course) via the D-League. Soon enough, it may also become second nature for fans to credit the minor league with influencing some of the better and more important rule changes in the years to come as well.