OK, so Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban went public Wednesday morning, becoming the first owner I can recall to admit that his team tanked games:
"The Mavs, once we were eliminated from the playoffs, we did everything possible to lose games," he admitted Wednesday on the Dan Patrick Show.
Wow. I suppose we should salute the man for his honesty and he certainly didn't admit to doing anything that we know a substantial number of teams in the league do every season.
But really, shouldn't we take a more global view of the whole situation? I mean, what does it say about a league where a significant number of teams are trying to lose as many games as possible for a good part of the season? Is that fair to the paying customers? I don't think this happens in any other sports league. But the way the NBA lottery is set up, there is so much incentive for teams to get high draft picks in the rare sport where one player can turn a franchise around.
I don't like tanking and think any league with a conscience would do everything it can to stop such things. How? Well, there's a decent idea out there that's been around for a couple of years. It's been called "The Wheel."
I'm not going to attempt to get into the mechanics of it (you can go to the above link for that) but suffice it to say it involves simply rotating the draft order each year with everyone getting an equal shot at top picks. I didn't like the idea at first but I'm convinced now it's the best way to combat a league full of teams willing to temporarily dismiss the moral responsibility of trying to win every game.
Am I the only one in the world who is offended by a league half-full of teams intentionally trying to lose games? Honestly, I find it appalling and always have.
And maybe the wheel would help some of the mid-level teams escape the limbo of not being good enough to compete for a title and not being bad enough to hit the lottery. It might also help those borderline teams battle the super teams, which are dominating the league. You worried, with the wheel, about one of the league's best teams ending up with the top pick every three decades?
Well, wake up! It has happened this year under the current system, with Boston holding the No. 1 choice.
I know this, as someone who watches a ton of NBA games every season, I think I saw more lousy regular-season games this year than ever before. There is too big a disparity between the bad teams and average teams. And too much difference between the great teams and the good ones.
Something must be done and it has to start with doing away with the incentive to lose games.