These athletes are the best actors in the game. Professional athletes will always try to bend the rules and get an edge on their competition, and unfortunately one of the ways that often happens is faking an injury.
Here are some examples of athletes who’ve used superior acting skills to get ahead, whether by diving, flopping, or otherwise feigning some injury.
10. James Harden
James Harden can seemingly draw contact on every shot, which is extra remarkable given his hot scoring the past couple of years. ESPN reports that nobody in the NBA is better at drawing fouls than Harden: he’s led the league in free throws attempted in five of the past six seasons. If you ask Harden about it, he shrugs it off, saying: “I play. Fouls come.” Nobody’s buying it!
9. Arjen Robben
Arjen Robben earned his well-deserved reputation for diving during the 2014 World Cup. According to the BBC, the Dutch winger hit the ground three times against Mexico in the last 16, the third of which led to a decisive penalty for the Netherlands. Robben apologized for diving after the match but said it was for a first-half embellishment, not the controversial one in the 94th minute. Sure, Arjen, sure.
8. Bernard Tomic
The Herald-Sun reports that the Australian tennis player admitted to feigning injury during his listless first-round exit from Wimbledon in 2017. During the post-match press conference, Tomic revealed the injury timeout he requested was purely for tactical reasons. The Grand Slam’s officials were not impressed, fining Tomic $20,000. It’s ironic because Tomic accused countryman Nick Kyrgios of faking illness in the 2016 Davis Cup—guess it’s OK when you do it, Bernie?
7. P.K. Subban
P.K. Subban is skilled in many areas on the ice, but for whatever reason, his most excellent skill might be falling to the ice in apparent agony. According to The Hockey News, Subban was the first NHL player to be nailed three times for diving infractions under the league’s anti-embellishment rules in 2015, costing him $3,000 in fines. Subban also received penalties for diving in 2017, but he gets away with quite a few, including one against the Jets in a critical Game 7 matchup during the 2018 playoffs.
6. Marcus Smart
Marcus Smart’s reputation for flopping goes back to his college days. Yahoo Sports reports that Smart earned the dubious distinction with Oklahoma State when he attempted to draw fouls repeatedly, even twice, on the same possession. Smart hasn’t stopped in the NBA, either, getting fined multiple times for flopping, and recently had an Oscar-worthy performance against fellow flopper LeBron James in the 2018 NBA Playoffs.
5. Cristiano Ronaldo
All one needs to do is Google “Cristiano Ronaldo diving” to get the gist of just how often the Portuguese soccer star is accused of overacting. Metro reports that during the 2018 World Cup, Ronaldo fell to the pitch dramatically against Morocco, despite not being touched. CR7 then dared to signal the referee to review the play using VAR, which was swiftly denied. Spain’s Gerard Piqué had said days earlier that Ronaldo was prone to diving, but apparently, no one listened.
4. Victoria Azarenka
The Belarussian tennis star was once ranked No. 1 in the world—and you could argue that, after her antics at the 2013 Australian Open, Azarenka is also number one at faking an injury. According to Sports Illustrated, during her semifinal match with Sloane Stephens, Azarenka used a 10-minute medical timeout after getting frustrated at being unable to put her opponent away in the second set. She returned to the court and finished Stephens off, looking none the worse for wear. What gives, Victoria? Not cool.
3. Brad Marchand
There are several reasons why few hockey players are fans of the Boston Bruins’ Brad Marchand, not the least because he tended to feign injury. TSN reports that Marchand was nailed twice for diving during the 2017-18 season, and the second offence cost him a cool $2,000. He’s done it before, and the odds are good he’ll do it again.
2. LeBron James
Many basketball fans consider LeBron the GOAT—but others believe him the best flopper in the game. USA Today reports that a great example of King James’ antics occurred when he was still a member of the Cavs against the Indiana Pacers in the 2018 NBA Playoffs. LeBron went flying after a nudge from Bojan Bogdanovic—and considering LBJ outweighs Bogdanovic by a considerable amount, we’d call it quite the embellishment on his part.
The Brazilian soccer superstar has long been a notorious diver, but he took it to another level at the 2018 World Cup. According to the CBC, Neymar spent most of Brazil’s 2-1 loss to Belgium in the quarterfinals rolling on the pitch. Footy fans participated in the “Neymar Challenge,” dramatically falling to the ground at the mere mention of his name.