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On the NBA: League reality is something less than BattleTanx

Over-proclamations of tanking are wearing on me, fast. It’s become the last line of ego defense for frans who’ve put too much personal pride into their franchises—which, make no mistake, describes this writer—to either take a bit of schaudenfreude-soaked glee in this disarray of other organizations or, alternately, to suggest your own home city’s losing efforts are done meaningfully. Our losing is productive. “Tanking” has become an unavoidable final move in the logic of seemingly all NBA fans.

Or maybe once it’s said enough times, the word “tank” just becomes an illness. We can’t stop saying it. It’s the idiocy of the masses, turning in a word into nothing because it just couldn’t put it down for a minute, the masses couldn’t scratching their enigmatic itch with the way that single syllable felt, leaving their mouths.

It must be something like this that’s causing the hysteria over tanking, because those who apply individual scrutiny to the efforts of each NBA team will have a hard time naming more than four true blue tankers. Aside from the Utah Jazz, Boston Celtics, Philadelphia 76ers and potentially the Orlando Magic, teams in this league are trying to win. But winning isn’t easy in the NBA.

That’s why GM-and-coach carousels spin at such rapid speed. And that carousel is why the overwhelming majority of GM’s and coaches would never intentionally lose, construct a team to lose, or in any way do less than the maximal amount of winning. Their jobs are always on the line, because the NBA is a product that doesn’t sell well in cities without playoff hope.

Contrary to the angels of our romantic roundball-loving dreams, this is not a league 100% saturated with eyes only for the championship. Middle-of-the-road competition is exactly what most NBA owners demand and expect from their franchises. The glory of a Larry O’Brien cup would certainly be nice, but’s not a carrot and a prerogative for these CEO’s in the way that consistently positive profits are.

Tanking exists, yes. But it’s done by gamblers—it’s a highly calculated risk to cut out the bottom when elite talent seems bound for the draft, but it still has little chance of reversing the momentum of a franchise. Tanking is going for broke, it’s going all in. You do it when you absolutely have to, when you’re buried and inches from death. How many well-employed men do you know, so willing to put all their stacks toward center, and risk leaving the table?

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Total comments: 3
  • blakecouey says 9 months ago

    Yep.....these so called experts are always proclaiming here comes the next MJ or LeBron. Some GM's or their team owners buy it. Shabazz Mohammad was suppose to be the next great thing before Olidapo was referred to as the next MJ (heard a college commentator refer such).

    I remember hearing this as well, and who knows, maybe it'll happen? but I doubt it.

    I understand completely the idea behind tanking, but as we've seen the last few years, even if you're the worst in the league, it doesn't mean you're drafting #1(instead it's whoever Stern feels bad for-lol). It's been 10 years(2004), when Dwight was drafted, since the worst team in the league(record-wise) got the #1 pick. Since then, the 3rd, 5th, and 6th worst teams have each stolen the #1 twice, with the remaining teams being ranked 2nd, 8th, and 9th once a piece. That said, it seems the ideal position to be in at the end is around 5th, even though the odds for the team in the 5th spot to get picked for the #1 is only 8.8%. So, it looks like Boston/Utah are setting themselves up pretty well, haha.

  • Jatman20 says 9 months ago Another note: No team has won an NBA championship as a 7th or 8th seed. We did it as a 6th seed and I think we faced 4 sixty-win teams to do it.
    Some GM's may like the odds of one ping-pong ball landing them the top pick over an up hill climb as a 7th or 8th seed. Not suggesting we should do that if in that situation. Can you imagine our owner if the Rockets finished 9th!! After finishing 9th so many years and then going out and getting Asik, Lin....then Harden.....and now D12.....

    We better make the playoffs!!
  • Jatman20 says 9 months ago Yep.....these so called experts are always proclaiming here comes the next MJ or LeBron. Some GM's or their team owners buy it. Shabazz Mohammad was suppose to be the next great thing before Olidapo was referred to as the next MJ (heard a college commentator refer such).
    I remember hearing the same about Lebradford Smith and J. R. Rider (before he became Isaiah). There was a "Baby Shaq" out there at one time (cant remember who that was). Boeheim came out recently saying Wiggins and these others are not as good as Carmelo during his college years......and not worth tanking for. But it would be job security and set up your franchise for the next ten years if it turns out as such.

    Fools gold.....but there it is. No guarantees in life but death and taxes.

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