What is a Flagrant Foul in Basketball?

what is a flagrant foul in basketball

Flagrant fouls are some of the most severe fouls in basketball. These penalties result after egregious acts of violence or physical contact that can cause an injury and often result in the expulsion of a player from the game. Here is the complete breakdown of the different fouls in basketball, the categorization, what happens next, and more for flagrant fouls.


What are The Different Fouls in Basketball?

what are the different fouls in basketball

There are two main categories of fouls in the NBA rulebook, technical fouls, and personal fouls. Generally, these fouls differ by whether or not they involve contact with another player or official.


Technical Fouls

Technical fouls are the first category of fouls. These fouls are those that don’t involve contact. Most technical fouls are procedural and can include violations like having too many men on the court or taking too many timeouts during a game.


Two technical fouls are related to what someone might identify as a flagrant foul. The first is a conduct foul, which referees issue for unsportsmanlike conduct. The second is a technical foul, which results in verbal altercations between players.


Personal Fouls

Personal fouls always involve some form of contact between two players on opposing teams. These can include an unnecessary charge or screen against your opponent that knocks that hard to the ground. Flagrant fouls are a type of personal foul.


How are Flagrant Fouls Categorized in the NBA?

how are flagrant fouls categorized in the nba

The NBA and other leagues track two types of flagrant fouls: flagrant one and flagrant two fouls. While they have similar names and often have identical criteria, there’s a significant difference in the penalty. Officials must use instant replay when judging whether or not a personal foul is a flagrant one or flagrant two foul.


Flagrant foul one simply looks for unnecessary, illegal contact that could unintentionally harm another player. Offending players don’t receive an ejection if they get one flagrant foul 1. However, they will be if they get two during a single game. These penalties also result in the fouled player getting two free throws and receiving the ball.


Intentional contact intended to harm a player is often penalized as a flagrant foul 2. That’s why these are sometimes called intentional fouls. Like flagrant foul 1s, these penalties result in two free throws and possession of the ball for the team that was fouled upon. A flagrant two foul also includes automatic ejection for the player that committed the foul.


NCAA Flagrant Foul Breakdown

ncaa flagrant foul breakdown

In the NCAA, flagrant fouls can be either personal or technical fouls. Men’s college basketball has the same naming convention as the NBA and calls these two fouls flagrant foul 1 and flagrant foul 2. However, women’s college basketball calls a flagrant foul 1 an unsportsmanlike foul, and flagrant foul 2 a disqualifiable foul.


What Happens if a Player Gets Too Many Flagrant Fouls?


The NBA records penalty points for each flagrant foul issued to a player. If a player gets a flagrant foul 1, they get one penalty point. Meanwhile, if they get a flagrant foul 2, they get two penalty points.


If a player receives more than five penalty points in one season, they will get an automatic suspension. However, players need only three penalty points in the playoffs to earn a suspension.


Draymond Green got three flagrant fouls in the 2016 NBA postseason, which meant he had to sit out a game. Green earned a foul during the first two rounds and got his third in game four after a verbal altercation with LeBron James. The third foul forced him to sit out game 5, which helped the Cleveland Cavaliers stave off elimination and beat the Golden State Warriors in seven games.


What Players Have the Most Fouls in History?

Most NBA statistics record how many technical or personal fouls a player has over their career. Since Flagrant fouls are a type of personal foul, it’s best to use that metric to see which players have committed the most infractions.


Kareem Abdul-Jabbar leads all players in personal fouls with 4,657 over his career. Karl Malone is a close second, with 4,578 personal career fouls.


Do Players Today Receive Many Flagrant Fouls?

do players today receive many flagrant fouls

These days, it’s unlikely that many players these days will have quite as many fouls as their predecessors. That’s because the NBA has rules that limit and discourage players from getting too many fouls in a single season.


For example, Rasheed Wallace had a propensity to get many technical fouls, with 317 technical fouls in his career. After the 2000-2001 season, where he had over 41 technical fouls, the NBA established a rule change that stated any player with more than 15 technical fouls in a season would receive a suspension.


Conclusion: What is a Flagrant Foul in Basketball

Some critics of the NBA think that the game has gotten soft in recent years. They often point at rules like the flagrant foul to show just how weak the sport has become. However, this rule protects players from injury, which means keeping the best talent on the court. Saving the best players on the court is what is best for the game and the fans.


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