Tanking is a scourge, apparently. Tanking is endemic to NBA culture, we are told. The very nature of the NBA and the US collegiate system necessitates a draft by which the most unsuccessful teams get the best players, and this, it is said, encourages tanking. Tanking is an evil to be rallied against, hence the recent Zach Lowe story about the new proposed NBA draft system that dispenses with positional relevance and distributes draft picks in a far more arbitrarily democratic way. Every now and then, a remedy to this universally-accepted problem comes around.
But how deep does this problem really go? Is it deep at all? Who out there is actually tanking? Quite what is it that we are fighting against? What is tanking, who does it, why, and when?
More 'tanking' must-reads
More 'tanking' must-reads
Rebuilding isn't tanking Tank: A four-letter word
"Tanking," as we are to understand it, is a team's intent to do less than everything it can to win. It is a concerted effort over several months (and perhaps several seasons) by a team to deliberately not be as good as it could be. It is considered cheap, disingenuous and dishonest, the byproduct of a flawed system where a team can be rewarded for being bad and where deliberately losing is thereby a strategic decision.
It's true that any game can be deliberately lost. While tanking is a mechanism usually employed with regards to the draft, the most egregious example of deliberate losing in recent history perversely had nothing to do with it. An April 2006 game between the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Memphis Grizzlies featured an overtime win for the Grizzlies that they simply did not want. They were unable to play worse than the Timberwolves, who unashamedly let Mark Madsen shoot seven three pointers in a bid to have one of the 10 worst records in the league, thereby keeping a conditional pick they owed to the Clippers. You couldn't try harder to lose, and any veneer of competitiveness was dispensed with. It was noxious. It was toxic. It was everything professional sport should not be.
The aforementioned Grizzlies victory notwithstanding, though, players (almost) always play to win. This is partly due to the pride of being a professional athlete, partly due to the instinctive nature of human competitiveness and partly because no player wants to tank their statistics. After all, this is a league in which players deliberately and persistently shoot half-court heaves a split second after the game clock expires so as to not ruin their field goal percentage.
Similarly, coaches are evaluated based on their win totals. Even coaches who are hired by bad teams knowing that they will remain bad for a short time regardless of the coach's abilities and impact can often be fired if the team loses a lot. All coaches therefore coach to win. If your coach plays the mediocre but reliably-predictable veteran over the mistake-prone young upstart, even on the way to a 25-win season, it's because he really believes it gives him the best chance to win and that winning gives him the best chance of job security. He's right about at least one of these things.
Any deliberate designs on losing, then, come from the front office. But how often does this actually happen?
Douglas Jones-USA TODAY Sports
A look around the NBA at the present moment does not reveal much in the way of tanking right now. Not even in the Eastern Conference, where most of the losing resides. Two of the teams at the bottom of the East --New York and Brooklyn -- infamously are not supposed to be there. The team at the very bottom, the Milwaukee Bucks, are notoriously shackled by a playoffs-every-season edict that they aren't good at actually achieving. Further back of Brooklyn with a 12-23 record is Cleveland, a team intending to start pushing for the playoffs, yet held back by a series of underwhelming signings and a worryingly poor start for their No. 1 pick. One could argue that they should be tanking, yet this week's trade for veteran all-star forward Luol Deng trade clearly indicates they are not. Charlotte is attempting to make the playoffs -- after all, they have a draft pick going elsewhere -- and were only one game below .500 as of a fortnight ago. Detroit is trying to make the best of a mishmash of talent with genuine potential, but little cohesion. Boston is in a similar situation with much lesser talent, except their coach is too good for this to be a problem.
That leaves only Orlando and Philadelphia, both teams committed to a youth movement and not long removed from trading quality stars, as the potential "tankers."
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When staying good goes wrong
Meanwhile, in the West, there are only six sub-.500 teams. Memphis and the Lakers are where they are because of injuries, not through tanking. In trading two first-round picks for Jrue Holiday and spending all their flexibility on Tyreke Evans, the Pelicans emphatically signaled an intent to end their losing days, even if it hasn't strictly worked out yet. Minnesota is half a game below .500 and a preseason playoff pick, slightly behind the curve due to Ricky Rubio's slow start. Sacramento is losing due to a confused, duplicating roster and remarkably poor team defense, yet their recent trade for Rudy Gay signifies their intent to not tank their way out of it.
Then, there's Utah. While the Jazz are certainly mired in an asset gathering/youth movement phase, they are absolutely, correctly (and finally) playing said youth.
Is what Utah are doing really tanking? And if so, what is wrong with it?
It needn't be examined as to whether front offices have tanked in the past. Of course, they have -- egregious examples include multiple efforts by the Timberwolves in the Kevin Garnett era to keep hold of the pick they recklessly traded for Marko Jaric, and the Warriors's 5-22 end to the 2011-12 season (one which had started with a playoff guarantee) that enabled them to keep the pick that became Harrison Barnes that otherwise would have gone to the Jazz.
But keep in mind this reality: Executives, too, are often on short term contracts. They too are accountable to a team's on-court performance. Only in circumstances of supreme and unfound loyalty born out of the NBA's nepotism and old boys networks do we see executives survive at the head after lengthy periods of moribund play. "Tanking" teams, as evidenced by those outlined above, are usually new regimes brought in to rectify previously-unsuccessful ones. Sam Hinkie in Philadelphia didn't make the franchise-altering Andrew Bynum trade, Rob Hennigan in Orlando wasn't the one who wasted the Dwight Howard years, and Dennis Lindsey in Utah neither assembled nor deconstructed the Deron Williams/Carlos Boozer years.
Indeed, because of their short term contracts and high job turnover, executives are instead more prone to quick fixes and instant gratification. Even now, rare is the instance where ownership and executive relationships are so harmonious and trusting that the owners can accept the GM playing the long game. The NBA has come a long way in this regard over the last decade, as greater awareness of team building and strategy have passed into the public conscience (and thus team accountability), yet often a disconnect remains.
You would expect, then, for management and ownerships to not want their teams to be bad. And that does not reconcile readily with the concept of a league-wide tanking epidemic.
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Even if these executives are indeed free to take the long view, are they "tanking?" Were Orlando and Utah tanking when they traded for so many young players and future first-round draft picks? Surely that is only true if all the priority is given to the present. Yet if these teams really were tanking as emphatically as they could, they could do it much better than this. The Jazz, for example, are 11-12 with Trey Burke starting and rapidly becoming too good to be bad. They are mediocre, with a lot of internal growth yet to come. They acquired one of the best players in a weak draft, in doing so taking themselves out of the running for drafting right at the top of an extremely strong one. If this keeps up, Trey Burke might cost them Andrew Wiggins.
If the Jazz were specifically trying their best to lose this year, in a draft when doing so would behoove them far more potential superstar talents than the previous one did, they would have trodden water for longer. They didn't. They capitalized on the weak perception of the 2013 draft and traded up to land one of the best players in it for a minimal cost.The 76ers did something similar; they paid a slightly higher cost, but also created a foundation in 2013 with Nerlens Noel and the best rookie in the NBA, Michael Carter-Williams. And Orlando could have picked Noel, have him miss the season, continued to trade away anyone looking vaguely useful and been even worse for the 2014 draft, whereby they could then flank the returning Noel with a superstar talent and be half way back up the Ziggeraut again. But they took Victor Oladipo, perhaps the most NBA-ready high lottery pick in last year's draft, instead.
The worst team in the NBA, it must be remembered, is one who tried to be good.
Perhaps it is the case that the supposed tankers are actually just better managed, better at asset accumulation and management, better at strategizing, better at building a team that'll last. That sounds like a team trying to win, not lose. And one step backwards can mean three steps forwards.
Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
Keep this in mind now that we've reached the point of the season where so-called "tanking" begins in earnest. By now, teams have evaluated what they have and where they are going. Some of them won't like it. Some will identify a core of players, identify the tradeable remainder and pawn off that which is pawnable. They might weaken their current product in exchange for future flexibility and assets. That is not mere terminology talking: That really is what happens. This is exactly what the Deng trade was for Chicago. And there will be more of this. Teams out of the hunt will look to the future.
Is that tanking? Is that deliberate losing? Sure, if deliberate losing and tanking are hereby defined as the weakening of the chances of winning the next game.
But no matter how important or attainable the short term goals are, the big picture is always present. It is not an endemic problem permeating the entire league. It is a strategy shift teams adopt if circumstances demand it. Often times, it is the best strategy there is.
And without a truly free market, it will stay so.
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Who started tanking in the NBA? ›
One of the first teams to tank was the 1983–84 Houston Rockets, who considered the season lost after starting 20–26 and decided to play more bench players to fall in the standings and get higher in the draft order for the following season, and later they would draft Hakeem Olajuwon in the first spot.Who will tank in NBA? ›
- San Antonio Spurs. ...
- Oklahoma City Thunder. ...
- Houston Rockets. ...
- Indiana Pacers. ...
- Detroit Pistons. ...
- Orlando Magic. ...
- Charlotte Hornets. ...
- Utah Jazz.
In one of the hot button issues of the present day, we encounter the topic of tanking in sports, with the NBA being in the spotlight. What is tanking? It's the disgraceful art of sitting out your star players and playing the lower-tier players for the sole purpose to lose games in order to acquire a higher draft pick.Is tanking a problem in the NBA? ›
With the presence of seven-foot, four-inch French phenom Victor Wembanyama in the next draft class, tanking to achieve the best shot at him via the draft lottery has become a major issue. “We put teams on notice,” Silver said in October 2022. “We're going to be paying particular attention to the issue this year.”Has tanking ever worked in sports? ›
Tanking in professional sports is not a new concept. The first well-documented case of tanking was the 1983-1984 Houston Rockets. They finished last in the NBA that season after a rough start, which allowed them to draft Hakeem Olajuwon, one of the greatest centers the NBA has ever seen.Why is tanking in the NBA good? ›
Tanking aims to gain this player with top draft pick, and to ultimately win a championship with the core constructed while tanking. The strategy has become increasingly common in recent years as winning an NBA championship has become increasingly difficult.Why tanking is good? ›
The primary objective of tanking is to secure a higher draft pick. This, in turn, means that teams pick higher not just in the first round of the draft, but in every round, enabling them to access higher quality talent.Who called out tank? ›
The 27-year-old Martin is now the WBA 135-lb mandatory challenger due to his title eliminator victory over Rivera (24-1, 14 KOs). Tank Davis (27-0, 25 KOs) reacted with this comment below to Frank Martin's call out: “Yeah, ready to go to sleep.Why is losing called tanking? ›
Tank came from Tennis jargon, by way of boxing jargon. Originally, it meant to lose on purpose to gain an advantage. You could tank a set to get a rest or tank a boxing match so your backers could make money gambling against you.Are NFL teams allowed to tank? ›
Tanking is not legal in the NFL just like tax evasion is not legal. However, in both cases, there are certain avenues with which you can arrive at a similar goal through acceptable means.
How much does a wipe floor get paid in the NBA? ›
Sweepers actually have to work their way up. A sweeper just starting out will likely earn between $60,000 and $70,000, while a more experienced sweeper with significantly more time in the league can easily earn as much as $90,000 to $100,000. And because most sweepers are more experienced, the average is more upscale.How is tanking done? ›
Basement Tanking is the application of a membrane or coating to the inside or the outside of the structure. This stops water entering the habitable space of the property thus making the basement watertight. Within the waterproofing industry this is defined as 'Type A' waterproofing.Is NBA losing popularity? ›
The league's national games on ABC, ESPN and TNT are averaging 1.6 million viewers, which the NBA said is up 1 percent over last season, per Nielsen data. Those games also average a 0.9 household Nielsen rating, which is flat to 2021-22.Why is NBA dropping Spalding? ›
But Spalding's sponsorship contract with the NBA expires after this 2020-21 season, and they were unable to agree on terms for a new deal. Spalding will continue to produce the official NBA backboards and rims, plus a full line of other basketballs, including the TF-1000 and my personal outdoor favorite, the Neverflat.What is the biggest reason NBA athletes go broke? ›
Lack of Financial Knowledge
Young athletes who are drafted onto a pro team are suddenly wealthy at a very young age. It's a rare 20-something who's prepared for that. They often lack the financial knowledge to manage the large sums of money they're earning, Sports Illustrated noted.
Chosen by ESPN as the hardest sport in the world—and routinely landing on the top 10 lists of the toughest sports in the world by other prominent rankings—boxing is universally recognized as a crazy-hard sport. It requires a ton of physical fitness, agility, speed, cardiovascular fitness, and skill.
|Degree of Difficulty: Sport Rankings|
Results indicated female basketball athletes had the highest level of burnout in the areas of EE (M=27.2) and DP (M=8.5) which are classified as high (1) for EE and moderate (2) for DP. The volleyball players had the lowest sense of PA (M= 37.5) from their sport which correlates with a high (3) level of burnout.What is the most efficient NBA games ever? ›
Damian Lillard beats multiple NBA records, ties Michael Jordan.
|Player of the Game|
Basketball extended its now 14-year lead over baseball, soccer, football and ice hockey as the country's most popular major participatory sport, according to a Sports Business Journal analysis of the 2022 State of the Industry Report from the Sports & Fitness Industry Association and Sports Marketing Surveys USA.
Why is Jordan better than Wilt? ›
Jordan led the league in scoring 10 times and capitalized on it for 6 titles in six finals with six finals mvp's. Jordan finished right above Wilt as the greatest scorer ever, for an entire career, because Wilt had to stop scoring to win a title, and Jordan didn't have to stop scoring to win a title.What are the disadvantages of tanking? ›
Disadvantages Of Tanking
Limited Ventilation: Tanking reduces ventilation within the structure, which causes moisture build-up and increases the risk of dampness and mould.
The short answer is yes. If the goal is to re-work a roster in a way that maximizes talent, then yes, tanking works.What are the two types of tanking? ›
The two main methods of tanking are by using a membrane or a coating. The type of damp and the precise requirements of the building will determine the most appropriate method to use, and sometimes a combination is required to ensure walls remain dry.Why is Tank going to jail? ›
Gervonta Davis faces jail on May 5
He stands accused of running a red light in his Lamborghini days after defending his world title. Driving down Martin Luther King Jr.
In 27 professional fights spanning 10 years, “Tank” has steamrolled through the competition with 25 knockouts. Davis' toughest test to date came in 2021 when he faced Isaac “Pitbull” Cruz. Cruz lasted the full 12 rounds and lost a unanimous decision via scores 116-112, 115-113, and 115-113.How rich is Gervonta Davis? ›
According to celebritynetworth.com, Gervonta Davis' net worth should be in the neighborhood of $4 million. In a nearly decade-long career, it is fair to assume that the Baltimorean had made most of his money through fights.When was tanking invented? ›
The military combined with engineers and industrialists and by early 1916 a prototype was adopted as the design of future tanks. Britain used tanks in combat for the first time in the Battle of Flers-Courcelette on 15 September 1916.Why does tanking fail? ›
In most of the cases where cellar tanking has failed, it isn't because of the method or the materials used. It simply can be that the application has not been carefully planned for the area it is being applied to and after some time, the bonding applicator will not be in action, resulting in faulty cellar tanking.Why is tanking unethical? ›
A tanking strategy which is outright intentional cheating in order to deliberately lean into a losing record is unequivocally unethical. Any coach or manager which encourages this is demonstrating unethical leadership and impairing the integrity of the game itself.
Do Waterboys travel with the NFL? ›
“My son is a PT, but 53K a year is way too small for the amount of schooling,” another argued. That said, Thieneman was sure to point out the benefits of the role. As he explained, water boys also get to travel with the team and spend time with players, in addition to other perks.Can NFL teams drink on plane? ›
The NFL forbids alcohol on team planes or buses.Can NFL players drink water? ›
A crucial part of any NFL player's training regimen is the amount of water they drink throughout the day. Getting the appropriate amount of hydration has a host of benefits including regulating an athlete's body temperature and electrolyte balance.How much do NBA ball boy make? ›
|Detroit Pistons Ball Boy salaries - 1 salaries reported||$27/hr|
|Memphis Grizzlies Ball Boy salaries - 1 salaries reported||$25/hr|
|Houston Astros Ball Boy salaries - 1 salaries reported||$54,073/yr|
|Italian Center of Stamford Ball Boy salaries - 1 salaries reported||$26/hr|
Like most jobs in America, an NBA referee's salary is based on both seniority and performance. Entry-level referees' compensation begins at $600 per game or roughly $250,000 per year. Seasoned or professional referees earn $3,500 per game or up to $550,000 annually.How much does an NBA cheerleader make? ›
The New York Knicks and Atlanta Hawks cheerleading squads are the highest-paid cheerleaders in the NBA, making between $200 and $650 per game. They also get bonuses of up to $2000, with an annual salary of $35,000. Related: How much money do mop boys get paid in the NBA?How many years does tanking last? ›
Tanking systems may last up to 10 years. If it is installed properly, it may even last longer. However, please note that certain factors can affect its longevity.How long does tanking take to go off? ›
Curing. Tanking takes time to cure thoroughly – between 24 and 48 hours. The tanking on the walls will cure at different rates with wetter parts of the walls taking longer. You may notice moisture as the slurry cures.Is tanking good or bad? ›
Win vs develop
Overall, tanking is pretty much being bad, but it's also a shortcut that focuses fully on 'instant' winning of games, rather than developing a team and working on their weaknesses.
Soccer, also known as association football, is by far the most popular sport in the world, despite the fact that it may not be obvious in the United States. Soccer is the most popular sport in practically all of Europe, South America, Africa, the Middle East, Central America, and Asia.
Is NFL bigger than NBA? ›
That's an average viewership of 21.88 million for the NFL, and 4.318 million for the NBA. The NFL drew an audience more than five times bigger than the NBA's.Who has more viewers NBA or NFL? ›
The NBA has 30 teams, each plays 82 games, so that's 1,230 games per season. So 17,253,425 NFL fans attended 256 games, so that's an average of 67,396 people per game. 21,997,412 NBA fans attended 1,230 games, so that's an average of 17,884 people per game.Why is NBA switching to Wilson? ›
Wilson was the official maker of the NBA basketball for the first 37 years of the league before Spalding took over for the next 37. As Spalding failed to renew their contract, Wilson takes over ball-making duties once again.Why is NBA changing balls? ›
“For the NBA and the players association — I think everybody wanted consistency,” Wilson GM Kevin Murphy told the Daily News. “The idea behind the change wasn't about fixing a problem, it was a bigger partnership transition. The ball on the court is the most important thing and we have to deliver.Why is the NBA ball Brown? ›
Before the late 1950s, basketballs were generally brown. Butler University's head basketball coach, Tony Hinkle, thought this color was not only difficult for players to see, but also for the fans. He decided to create a ball that anyone near a basketball court could easily see.Which NBA became homeless? ›
Mental-health struggles and substance-abuse issues left former NBA guard Delonte West homeless two years ago.Do NBA players lose money for not playing? ›
To respect the decision of those who do return to play, it has been agreed that any player who chooses not to participate will have his compensation reduced by 1/92.6 for each game missed up to a cap of 14 games, even if his team plays more than 14 games in Orlando.Who sued the NBA to play without college? ›
In response, Schulman and Haywood filed an anti-trust suit against the league, arguing that the four-year rule infringed on Haywood's right to make a living. During the season, Haywood's case wound through the courts, accompanied by a series of injunctions and legal maneuverings. He played in only 33 games.Where does tanking come from? ›
Tank came from Tennis jargon, by way of boxing jargon. Originally, it meant to lose on purpose to gain an advantage. You could tank a set to get a rest or tank a boxing match so your backers could make money gambling against you.Who led the NBA in turnover? ›
Who brought the dunk to the NBA? ›
It's believed that the first-ever dunk in organized basketball occurred in 1936 (before that it was all one-legged push shots and layups). Joe Fortenberry, a 6ft 8in Texan, performed one in the Berlin Olympics for the US basketball team on the way to winning the sport's first-ever gold medal.Who leads NBA history in turnovers? ›
It is likewise applied on existing basements or cellars, especially those with external sides which are not accessible. Tanking systems may last up to 10 years. If it is installed properly, it may even last longer.Who missed the most shots in NBA history? ›
Shawn Bradley easily comes in at the No. 1 spot on this list by leaps and bounds ahead of his predecessors.Who has the most fouls in NBA history? ›
The first women's college basketball player to dunk in a game was Georgeann Wells. The West Virginia center threw down a right-handed jam on WVU's home turf to take an 85-50 lead with just under 12 minutes to go on Dec.Has anyone ever dunked from the 3-point line? ›
Wilt Chamberlain used to start at the area of the 3-point line and with one or two steps would slam down the dunk. I don't think anyone has ever done it without a step though.Who made the first 3 pointer in NBA history? ›
This Day in History: Chris Ford made the first 3-point basket in NBA History (Oct 12, 1979)Who has the most triple doubles in NBA history? ›
In May 2021, Washington Wizards point guard Russell Westbrook became the undisputed king of the triple doubles. He scored his record-breaking 182nd triple double in a tight 125-124 loss against the Atlanta Hawks. Westbrook scored his very first triple double in March 2009 while playing for the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Who was the first player with 100 turnovers? ›
Jayson Tatum is the first player in NBA history with 100 turnovers in a single postseason. Barring the two of them, Robert Williams and Al Horford were the aggressors and kept the Celtics in the game until late in the fourth.Who has most turnovers all time? ›
|Player||Total Turnovers||Games Played|