It is now fairly well established that there are eight NBA teams that are aggressively tanking, working with vigor toward a superior draft choice that either will or won’t matter.
That’s the beauty of losing games deliberately in bulk – all you get is a potential escape rout that typically isn’t. In short, The Process is largely a self-perpetrated fraud – a way to distract the audience that you’re bad by proving how bad you can be if you try.
I guess that’s also called reverse analytics, but why be snarky here?
But there is a cosmic reason why there are eight tankers at sea here, and that is that the deity in charge of sporting justice wants NBA commissioner Adam Silver to take the hint about playoff reform.
Specifically, to take the eight teams – Phoenix (18-44), Atlanta (18-43), Orlando (18-42), Sacramento (18-42), Memphis (18-41), Dallas (19-42), Brooklyn (20-41) and Chicago (20-40) and build Hell’s Own Bracket. A three-day Tournament Of Shame right after the regular season ends, in which the team that wins three times wins the first pick – or, if you want to carry the theme to its Rothsteinian extreme, the team that loses all three.
You end up getting rid of the lottery system, which people pretend to like but secretly fear is too easy to manipulate. You get a three-day talking point that you can charge prime dollars for. In fact, you can put it in Las Vegas and give legalized wagering a go without the unnecessary integrity fee – particularly because this tournament is a shining tribute to the teams’ essential lack of integrity.
Oh, you might have to extend contracts for players another three games’ worth, or tweak the roster size to make sure that players aren’t torn about their job security while they’re playing for their potential replacement – but let’s face it, no matter how you do this, you’re heading down a rabbit hole in which the league is profiting from active refusal to compete. Once you’ve decided that’s in play, you can do anything to the competition with a clear lack of conscience, since this is monument to that very shortcoming.
But the idea is simply too enticing not to try. This is how the league gets to have its killer bread and slather it with coldcuts – celebrating excellence and excrescence at the same time, and getting people to enjoy the game both ways.
How can this be wrong? How can anyone object?
Okay, I don’t want to watch Orlando and Brooklyn play for the right to meet the winner of the Sacramento-Memphis First-To-75 Classic, but I would watch Phoenix play Chicago to see if the Suns and their historically rancid defense can coax 150 points out of the difficult to watch Bulls offense.
Face it, this is so wrong that it’s right, and therefore wronger still. Adam Silver may not get consensus on the 10-deep playoff bracket, but this is too easy not to do. So let’s have this FailureFest booked and done, with a universal chant of “LET’S NOT GO TEAM!”
It will be the perfect sporting event for these wretched times.