NBA commissioner to the rescue! Nothing like having the commish back what a franchise is doing, especially one that won a total of 19 games this season. When Josh Harris, Sixers CEO, said the 19-win season was a huge success, there was quite the backlash. How could 19 wins be a success? Wow, the Sixers basically admitted to tanking, right? Not exactly. Anyone that understands the situation, understands what Harris meant by his comments. So, apparently, does the NBA commissioner, as he said (via Philly.com):
“I think what Josh was saying was in the context of building a championship team and a championship organization in Philadelphia,” Silver said Thursday as he spoke to the Associated Press Sports Editors. “He saw it as a success in a continuum.”
Looking at the bigger picture, the Sixers season was a success, for the future. The Sixers have two lottery picks and five second-round picks. In one of the deepest draft classes in recent history, that’s a victory. The Sixers also have the future Rookie of the Year in Michael Carter-Williams and a former lottery pick, who has yet to appear, in Nerlens Noel. How wasn’t this season successful? Maybe not in terms of winning, obviously, but there was a lot of positive from this season.
Even though Silver is backing the Sixers, as he still views “tanking” as a problem:
“Yes, it’s a concern from a perception point, which is why I responded on several occasions to say that at least the way that I’ve always understood, tanking is the intentional losing of games either by the coach or players,” Silver said. “What is going on is legitimate rebuilding of franchises. The fact that fans may see it another way is very [much a] concern to me.”
Only if there was someway to get rid of that dreaded word, “tanking”. Is it possible for a roster full of players and a coach to tank a season? Honestly, what players/coaches don’t want to win? Of course, management may have different views, but it will be hard pressed to find a group of players that don’t want to win when they step on that court. Franchises are rebuilding to get to the top, not tanking. Everyone has finally realized that being a seven or eight seed is just mediocrity, which gets a franchise nowhere in the NBA.
The word tanking was introduced and fans ran away with it. Fans became obsessed, it filled Twitter pages and ESPN headlines on the daily. Really? Excuse us, most franchises can’t lure the type of contracts that come with the names LeBron James and Chris Bosh. Let’s not forget how bad the Miami Heat were the year they drafted Dwyane Wade. Oh, wait, there’s more. What about the season the Heat drafted Michael Beasley with the No. 2 overall pick and Wade sat out most of the season because of a “knee injury”. Talk about tanking, right?
All in all, Adam Silver understands “tanking” or “rebuilding” and how necessary it is:
“Teams have to make their own strategic decisions,” Silver said. “That’s not something we are looking to legislate from the league. The jury is out from a strategic standpoint whether that’s the right way to build a championship team in the first place.”
Teams should be free to try and construct a championship caliber their own way. This can’t be done in one season. With the way the NBA is set up, it rewards high draft picks to the teams with the worst record. Losing a bunch of games, is one of the only logical ways to get to the top. Let’s stop bashing tanking and just accept it for what it is.