It is no secret that the Dallas Mavericks are not a very good basketball team this year. However, the concept of tanking has been a theme throughout the Dallas fan community for quite some time, starting the summer after the Mavericks won the only title in franchise history, when Mavs owner Mark Cuban made the decision to break up the championship team in favor of cap flexibility. While the idea of tanking in a vacuum is a good one, it rarely works out.
First, drafting in a higher position does not guarantee you a franchise changing player. For every LeBron James and Kevin Durant, there is a Kwame Brown and an Anthony Bennett. Are the probabilities of finding an All-Star caliber player higher in the draft, greater? Sure. Do they work out 100% of the time? Absolutely not. Drafting is a mix of the basketball operations departments doing hours on hours of homework, combined with a little luck. Giannis Antetokounmpo was drafted 13th (yes, I know this one hurts, Mavs fans. It hurts me too). Donovan Mitchell, the best rookie of the 2017 NBA draft thus far, was taken with the 13th pick. Oh yeah, so was some guy named Kobe. Dirk, the greatest player in Mavericks history and perhaps the best foreign player to ever step on a basketball court? He was taken ninth. There are contributing NBA players that have been drafted at every spot in a 60 pick draft, and it is up to the teams to find out who can and who cannot be of use to their teams. Drafting high does not guarantee you a hall of famer, and drafting low does not guarantee you a dud.
Another reason the Mavericks will not “tank,” is because of the people they have in authoritative positions. Donnie Nelson and Mark Cuban assembled one of the very best, well ran franchises of the 2000’s, and did a lot of winning themselves. Mavs head coach Rick Carlisle is also one of the most respected people in the league, and is widely regarded as a top three coach in the game right now. With these people in charge, the Mavericks will never be in a position where tanking is even an option. They are going to fight tooth and nail, until there is absolutely nothing they can do to salvage the season, whether you like it or not. Losing and quitting is not in their DNA. While the Mavericks have not and likely will not be a good team for a little while, it certainly is not because these guys aren’t putting forth 100% effort. If they give 100% effort and the team is still not good (which is the case right now), then that is fine.
Frankly, the concept of tanking is disrespectful. It is disrespectful to the players, the coaches, the executives, and you, the fans. The fans, who are the lifeblood of these franchises, the ones that come to games don’t want to see a product where they know at least one of the teams is not going to try, god forbid there be two teams in the cellar playing each other. Everyone involved in running an NBA basketball team, from management to the 17th guy on the bench have one singular goal as professionals, and that is to win ball games. Telling them to lose, becoming angry at them when they win, and rooting for complete futility is something that has to stop. If you are a financial analyst and have a quarterly report coming up, are you purposely going to mess the report up in hopes that you get a promotion? Alrighty then. Expecting these professionals to be purposely bad at their job in hopes that they get a better draft pick to hope that the person they draft is good enough to be able to help an NBA franchise is flat out disrespectful and silly.
Lastly, tanking looks bad on the team themselves. Come June, when the NBA draft takes place and the following week when the NBA free agent frenzy begins, teams are constantly meeting with players and agents to see how they can fill out their roster for the upcoming season. In those meetings (I have never been at one), I can guarantee you that one of the first questions would be “Why would I want to play a for a franchise that intentionally lost games?” Tanking looks bad, all the way around, every which way you look at it.
I am a believer in karma. If you respect the game, it will respect you back. Play the game as it is meant to be played, and everything will fall into place how it should. When you try to play the system, the system, is more often than not, the one that gets the last laugh.
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