Each and every year in sports, there is a draft that occurs. The drafts are full of talent, maybe even some franchising-changing talent, which could be both good and bad. Teams don’t want the number one pick, because they want a championship instead. Actually, in some cases, maybe teams don’t want to win championships.
Tanking is a word that is thrown around each year in sports. When a team tanks, it essentially gives up on the season in order to obtain a high draft pick. In most cases, one of the elite talents is one of the higher selections in the draft, but it’s not a certainty. Every single draft could have franchise-changing talent, but every single draft has its share of busts. Some guys turn into superstars, while others turn into yesterday’s news.
When teams purposefully tank on a season, it gives fans less hope to believe in the team. When this happens, fans will start to not care about the team and therefore not support them by going to the games. This is a proverbial slap to the fans face. Why would a fan willingly pay for a ticket to see a team that is going to go out and give a poor effort in order to try and get a high draft pick?
Last week an anonymous NBA General Manager admitted in an article in ESPN the Magazine that he has discussed a plan to tank with the upper management. The 2014 NBA draft class is shaping up to be one of the most talent-filled classes in years. There are some players who will be drafted next year that are already considered franchise-altering players. So this anonymous team’s GM admits a plan to tank, but it isn’t a full proof plan to secure the number one overall draft pick. In the NBA, the teams that didn’t make the playoffs or teams that have the draft rights of another team are put into a lottery. The worse your record is, the more ping pong balls you have in a random draw. A team in that position would obviously want the higher chance to get the pick, but it isn’t that easy. There has been multiple times where the worst team in the league didn’t draft number one in that draft. There are even multiple campaigns throughout sports that say “Tank for____,” this year in the NBA its “Tank for Wiggins” talking about Kansas freshman who could possibly be the number one pick in the 2014 NBA draft.
Michael Jordan – who is the majority owner of the Charlotte Bobcats – hasn’t had the most impressive career as a front office man. The best player in NBA history has not translated well once he donned a suit and tie. However, he came out last week as well and said his Bobcats have no intentions of tanking. He feels that tanking doesn’t build a franchise. Also, his mentality, even in the front office, is to win. Michael Jordan is not going to be someone who rolls over and takes the loss. He is the type of person who will fight no matter what.
There are cases throughout sports where teams start off very poorly and then the notion of tanking the rest of the way comes to the minds of the franchise. Some fan bases who proclaim loyalty, sometimes buy into the notion of tanking if it will assure the team a good draft pick. Even if fans are behind a team to tank, either from the beginning or when things start to go south, it doesn’t make that right. The front office is pretty much telling the guys on its roster that they don’t have what it takes to win in the league. Athletes compete to be the best and to win. If there is a plan to tank, it contradicts what athletes have worked their whole lives for. Not only that, but it sends the wrong message to the kids who look up to these players. If they catch on to the fact that the players are going to go out and pretty much try and lose more games than they win, what does that say to the kids who aspires to be like their heroes one day? It tells them that it’s okay to quit and that isn’t the message today’s youth needs to hear when they are trying to be professional athletes.
The aforementioned busts occur quite often. Sometimes it comes from the number one overall pick, other times it’s because a team drafts poorly. An example of the latter is the 1984 NBA draft where the Portland Trailblazers selected 7’1” center Sam Bowie with the second overall pick. The very next pick belonged to the Chicago Bulls and drafted Jordan. That was a history changing moment for the NBA. Year in and year out there are teams that pass on players and then see said player turn into a huge star in their respective sport.
If a team loses due to the team across from them simply being better, then so be it. If a team loses in order to obtain a high draft pick that is essentially a gamble, it makes for a situation that sends a terrible message.