Staff writer Aaron Young gives his opinion on tanking, specifically in the NBA
Tanking. No, not the think tank or the water tank. Tanking as in laying down what you have and calling it quits. Just not caring anymore in the sports world. This is most evident in basketball. A basketball team decides to give up and lose every game on purpose. Their players perform terribly and they just suck. Why?
There is a reason for this, and in few cases, the worst team actually benefits from the system.
This is because the NBA has a lottery system. The teams with the worst records get a first dibs on the best players the NCAA has to offer. That isn’t terrible whatsoever. Rather, it’s the fact that teams intentionally lose knowing they have a chance at the best player.
Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, got in trouble for the following remarks on the Dr. J podcast.
“I’m probably not supposed to say this. I just had dinner with a bunch of our guys the other night, and here we are, you know, we weren’t competing for the playoffs.” He then said losing is their best option. Cuban got fined $600,000 for that comment.
Sports are meant to be competitive in nature and there can only be one “king of the mountain.”
For basketball, that’s the Golden State Warriors. They are the epitome of what it means to play because they want to win and have the upper hand.
This sometimes works as teams need to rebuild like the 76ers. Their motto was “Trust the Process” as they were terrible year after year. Now, they are championship contenders with Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, and Jimmy Butler. However, when teams use this philosophy and abuse it, it shows.
When teams throw out the competitiveness because there is no point in playing anymore, that ruins the integrity of the game. The purpose of sports is to become the best and nothing less.
Connecting back to the lottery system, the NBA is partially to blame for this. Teams who know they are terrible and have no shot want to lose to get the next rising star.
Once in a while, it works out the way it was supposed to, with the worst team getting the No. 1 pick.
Last year, the Suns had the worst record and got the first pick, drafting DeAndre Ayton. This year, the Suns are once again dead last in the NBA but that’s because of there is a staggering amount of star power in the West.
Losing intentionally is also disrespectful for the fans who pay to watch their favorite superstars. No matter the team, their fanbase wants to see the best players they have to offer on the court. Not somebody who would normally get three to five minutes of playing time.
Adam Silver, commissioner of the NBA, acknowledged tanking in an interview with ESPN, but also sees the complexity in the issue.
Silver said, “We recognize that our goal was to put the best competition on the floor, and it’s balanced against legitimate rebuilding of some teams. But I know we’re not there yet, and I certainly wasn’t satisfied [this season].”
He said this in April. Fans can only hope him Silver can find a solution or any solution for that matter, because no one wants to go to a basketball game where their best star isn’t playing.
Feature photo courtesy of the Associated Press.