The NBA intends to keep growing this upcoming 2023/24 season as a competitive sport, perfect the rule book and expect athletes to perform honestly. This way, viewers and fans will enjoy basketball in its’ true ambitious nature, with justice at the top of the league’s moral compass.

This is why the officials are integrating STEM, a direct focus on Secondary, Theatrical, Exaggerated and Movement. It’s to further analyze player’s flops and condemn it in real time.

These are the criteria by which the NBA officials will punish new flopping violations, as these actions will carry the penalty of a technical foul and consequently a free throw for the rival squad.

Monty McCutchen, the NBA’s senior vice president and head of referee development and training, further explains the newest addition to the rule book.

Only Worst Offenses To Be Called

“We don’t think there’s going to be a ton of these being called, because of what it is we’re targeting,” he explained. “The vast majority of plays that we think are enhancements or embellishments will still be no-calls, the way we do it now. But we want to get rid of the egregious, overt, over-the-top examples.”

According to the league executive, a referee will put his hand on his shoulder to signal these plays manually during the matches. He explained that the whistle won’t blow as a “first neutral opportunity”, while the action will be analyzed in the next pause and the play isn’t interrupted.

McCutchen was very clear in stating that the officials aren’t looking to make any player look bad. He understands that adrenaline and inertia will always result in harsh play.

“We’re not outwardly trying to punish or embarrass people,” he expressed. “We just want this part of the game (to) disappear.”

This is why players who demonstrate genuine discomfort from a physical interaction will not be considered theatrical, but over-the-top exaggerations will be punished.

Coaches Concerns

Coaches around the NBA will be looking closely at how these new rules will be applied this season. Most are very intrigued by the way officials will enforce this new regulation on their players. Oklahoma City’s Mark Daigneault recently questioned how the interpretation will work, as many cases are subjective.

“It’s subjective – every foul is subjective,” he told “I thought [the implementation of] the transition take foul was a really smooth transition and I’m hoping for another smooth transition with this. You kind of knew it when you saw it with the take foul, and I think that will be the case with the flopping.”

“Screaming will not factor into the decisions,” McCutchen kept at it. “Do we think it’s going to be part of the theatrical and the exaggerated? Yeah, I do. There’s a visual component to this to our fans. The voices don’t pick up as much. So to try to regulate yelling and screaming, it wouldn’t translate to our fan bases very well, to be perfectly honest.”

What the head of referee development is trying to explain, is that yelling won’t be judged separately from falling, reeling, rolling. Instead, they will be interpreted as a whole through the STEM concept.