What do the Sixers gain by “tanking”? The Sixers franchise has faced ridicule by many media persons and outlets. Some are praising them for their ultimate goal. Are the Sixers doing right by forming a team that even if the players tried their hardest and performed their very best couldn’t win? In the NBA now days the only way to get better is to first get worse and hopefully land a top draft pick or have an abundance of cash to land super stars.
When asked what teams should do in order to land a higher draft pick, more specifically deliberately “tanking” former Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said “Not what Philadelphia is doing right now, which is embarrassing,” Van Gundy said. “I don’t care, Adam Silver can say there’s no tanking or what’s going on — if you’re putting that roster on the floor, you’re doing everything you can possibly do to try to lose.” But are the Sixers in the wrong for doing this? Much renowned Sixer Charles Barkley offered his opinion on his former franchise stating “I like what the Sixers are doing, they weren’t going to win,” Barkley continued. “I think resting Noel is going to be a huge boost for them going forward so they’re going to get two lottery picks next year with the guy who’s probably going to be the Rookie of the Year instead of paying a bunch of overpaid guys with a sorry team. I want a young team with a bright future. I want cap space and draft picks. That’s what has happened in the NBA.”
Much of the blame for this new way of creating a successful franchise in the NBA can be attributed to former league commissioner David Stern. When Stern stepped into office he had one main goal in mind, popularize the NBA. In order to do so he needed to figure out a way teams could draw more interest. Back in the 80’s “superstars” were more evenly dispersed throughout the league. You had HOF competing against each other. What he did next coincides with the dilution of NBA talent and disrupted “fair/even” competition around the league. During his time commissioner Stern added seven franchises. By doing so he added 105 players to rosters that wouldn’t have been in the league before. To simply put it there isn’t enough talent to fill all 30 NBA teams and have a competitive league amongst all teams. He also made it easier for teams to trade players and get rid of contracts and a very soft salary cap.
So now teams are faced with a sad reality. Tank, tank, and more tanking! With the way the NBA draft is set up the first 14 teams, teams that don’t make the playoffs, all are awarded a set amount of Ping-Pong balls based on record. The worse your teams record the more Ping-Pong balls they receive and thus increasing the team’s chances of landing the top pick in the draft. Teams that do this hope to land a franchise changing and even saving (i.e. Oklahoma City) player.
The other way to resurge your team to the top is by free agency. Most recently the Miami Heat were able to sign three “superstars” at once. LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh who earned the nickname the “Big 3.” Pat Reilly, owner and GM, had a plan in place before the offseason even took place to acquire these three players. Reilly cleared cap by trading for players with expiring contracts and the team’s first round pick. In return the Heat have since been to the last three NBA Finals and won the last two- what a great investment. While the Bobcats are still the Bobcats and the rest of the league and fans suffer.
So in reality the Sixers aren’t at fault here. Philly wants a winner. We have fallen subject to a way of losing that is dictated because of how the league is structured. Until the NBA reforms there are going to be at least 8 teams every year who know they aren’t going to make the playoffs, and six others stuck in mediocrity with hopes of making the playoffs until they decide to either “tank” or do what the Heat did.