Tanking is the ultimate “ugly word” in sports. It’s the equivalent of throwing in the towel and saying “to hell with this season”.
For those of you who don’t know, to tank games is to purposely try to lose in order to increase your chances of landing a solid pick in that summers draft.
It’s a stupid strategy (if you can even call it that) that rarely plays out the way you want it too.
So why do so many teams consider it there saving grace?
If you were to ask any one of the coaches or general managers in the league who currently run a team that struggle to find ways to win on a regular basis, they would 100% deny any allegations that there team is or would ever tank games in order to secure a high pick.
No one in their right mind would openly admit to that. You can’t publicly come out and tell your fan base that you have zero intention to try to win games.
It would be the ultimate slap in the face to every fan who pays their hard-earned money to come and watch your on-court product.
To be fair though, there was actually a point in time when I endorsed tanking games. In an article I wrote for my previous blog “Walder’s World of Sports”, I actually supported the idea of this years Toronto Raptors intentionally throwing away games so that they could land a high pick in one of the deepest drafts in recent memory. I figured the team didn’t really have a lot to play for anyways. The season was cut by 16 games and no one in their right mind had Toronto being any sort of contender in the Eastern Conference Playoff race to begin with.
So…..what the heck? The roster is so terrible that they could legitimately try to win and still lose a majority of their games anyways. Would anyone really care at this point?
Now that I look back at it, it probably wasn’t a good idea to promote “tanking”.
In the NBA, I’m firmly against it. This isn’t the NFL. Just because you have the most total losses in the league doesn’t guarantee you anything. In the National Football League, the draft order is determined by wins and losses starting with the worst record at pick #1 and then moving upwards from there.
The NBA determines the #1 pick by a completely random “cough cough” lottery system in which the worst teams have a greater chance of winning that pick, but don’t necessarily obtain it 100% of the time.
It’s a stupid system if you ask me. I think it’s severely flawed. If it does anything effectively, it encourages teams to tank. Tanking doesn’t ensure you the #1 selection, but it certainly will give you a high enough pick to select a player that can help you immediately…..hopefully.
If I had any say on how the lottery played out, I would give all 14 teams who don’t qualify for the playoffs an EQUAL opportunity to win the first overall pick. If you want to kill tanking, that’s the way to do it.
Teams wouldn’t mail it in anymore. Everyone would work their butts off night in and night out to win games and secure that sometimes unrealistic playoff spot. If the postseason alludes them, at least their still in the running for that prestigious number one pick despite whatever their final record may be.
It gives everyone something to play for. The days of resting key players and giving half-assed efforts during games would be a thing of the past.
The way bad teams get better faster is by landing that once-in-a-lifetime player in the draft that can put butts in seats and take you to the promise land. Most of the time, the pressure on the number one pick is so monumental that they eventually fail to live up to expectations.
For every Derrick Rose, Tim Duncan, Dwight Howard or Lebron James, there’s a Greg Oden, Andrea Bargnani, Andrew Bogut or John Wall. There all great players, but they have yet to pay serious dividends for their respective teams like a James or Howard. They get thrust into bad situations right off the bat. Since their not the franchise changers they were made out to be, they get ridiculed and put down for failing to revitalize their franchise.
That’s the best example I can give as to why tanking doesn’t guarantee you jack in the NBA. The best picks don’t always equal results and that’s a fact.
So to all of those lousy teams who are “secretly” throwing away their season in hopes of landing that next great star, just stop. Your getting paid huge salaries to go out on the court and play your hardest.
As fans, that’s all we ask of you.
Tanking…..the NBA Draft Lottery…..somebody call a repairman because theres some fixing to be done.
I’m looking at you, David Stern.
Christopher Walder is a sports blogger and lead editor for Sir Charles in Charge. You may follow him on Twitter @WalderSports