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Is "Tanking" Real?

by Tom King

ursday, December 19, 2013 4:13 a.m. by Tom King

There has been alot of talk about 'tanking' going on in pro sports these days. Are teams in baseball like the Houston Astros doing the right thing by writing off a few seasons in order to rebuild? Should pro football stars with injuries sit out even when healthy  if their team is out of playoff contention to better their draft position for next season? But nowhere is the talk of tanking more prevelant than in the NBA where next years college draft promises to be the deepest in years with maybe 6 or 7 future franchise players available. Many people have suggested that the teams that are losing are somehow doing it on purpose to better their chances in the draft. And that teams like Phoenix and Boston who were supposed to lose but are actually playing well, should cut it out. It's my opinion that unless it's obvious that teams are benching their stars for bogus injuries or playing their bench more minutes than is natural, the idea of "tanking" is a media creation. Most players, even the highly paid players in the NBA have some pride when they step on the court. They got to this point because they hate to lose. They are competitors...alpha dogs for the most part and they certainly are not going to roll over for anyone just because of some possible future player that might be available. And the coaches...many former players...are not going to purposely lose games unless it's a direct order from their front office. And if that's going on the commissioner has a major problem. If you are a fan of the Knicks or the 76ers or the Jazz or the Bucks or any of the other teams who have been linked to the "tanking" phenomenon why would you spend hundreds of dollars to come and watch a team that is not trying to win...even for a promise of future rewards? That's a violation of the unwritten compact between a team and its fans. You pay your money to come watch us and we will do our best to entertain you and try to win. If that's not the case...why bother.

In the case of the Milwaukee Bucks...I do not believe they are 'tanking". Yes...they have the worst record in the NBA but the season has been torpedoed from the start by injuries. They have yet to have the lineup on the court that they thought they would have going into the season. The bright spot of this season is that with the injuries come opportunities for young players to get a chance. And without the injuries we may never have learned that Giannis Antetokoumpo is going to be a star in this league...we may never have learned that John Henson can be a starter that gives you a double-double every night...we may never have learned that Nate Wolters could play at this level. Yes this season may be a lost one for the Bucks...in the win-loss column...but don't tell me that Larry Drew and company are not trying...the evidence is just not there.