During last night’s 96-87 Hornets win over the Celtics in Charlotte, Rajon Rondo appeared to have cold-cocked Lance Stephenson to the floor with an elbow to his jaw. Later, Stephenson got in Rondo’s face. After the game, Rondo claimed Stephenson flopped. Was he right?
Here’s the play in question, by way of Andy Isaac from Uproxx:
Stephenson immediately gets in Rondo’s face as he pulls himself up, and both players get whistled for technicals after tangling later in the possession — it should be noted neither was whistled for a foul when the exchange first happened.
Except, Rondo pointed out how much smaller he is when asked about the altercation after the game. Implicitly, he’s saying Stephenson flopped, something he’s been known to do in the past.
We are loathe to accuse any player of flopping, and most outlets seem to think Rondo laid out Stephenson with the elbow. We’ve gone back and looked at it multiple times, and we can’t really tell. We think Stephenson may have flopped, he’s just gotten a lot better at it. Then again, Rondo does raise his elbow in a threatening manner as Stephenson runs towards him and then stands over him after Stephenson crumples to the floor. Tough to tell.
The adage about the boy who cries wolf comes to mind. If you’re known as a flopper, whether fairly or not, you might not get the benefit of the doubt on plays like this. If it was a legit hit, Rondo should have been whistled for the foul and probably a flagrant 1. But it was missed by the officials, who only saw the aftermath.
Flop or not?
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