There’s a lot of truth to the old analogy that you have to sink incredibly low before you can rise back up. It’s especially true for struggling sports franchises. We all know that ‘tanking’ goes on each and every year in all sports, but one NBA General Manager has finally spoken up on the issue. He of course did it under the condition of anonymity, but that’s a step further than any other active GM has gone before.
Here’s an excerpt from the article in ESPN the magazine:
“The owners didn’t want to tread water any more than I did. They’d rather go down to the bottom with the hope of coming up, so they signed off on it. It wasn’t a fight at all. In a different season, it might not make sense, but this draft certainly makes it more appealing. Our coach understands that too. It’s no secret what we’re trying to do, and you can’t lie to him anyway or you’ll lose all trust. We never really had to tell him, because the handwriting is on the wall. He knows exactly what’s going on, and he’s good with it.”
When you really boil it down, there are some seasons where tanking just makes sense. Especially, in the NBA. Each year in the association there are a handful of teams that are going to compete for the championship. The bottom dwellers have basically zero shot at making it to the mountain top. They might be able to fight their way into the playoffs, but that’s really about it.
So in a year like 2013-14, which figures to have the best draft class in years, why not try to get a top pick? What’s better for the future of the franchise – earning the eighth seed in the playoffs and getting elimated right away to end up with a top 20 pick or finishing near the bottom of the league and landing a top five pick? In year that features a draft class like this, I’m going with the latter of the two options.
As crappy as it sounds, it’s the right approach to take for many non-contenders. Competitors aren’t going to like hearing this story, but I’m actually glad that a GM spoke the truth on tanking for once.