NBA commissioner Adam Silver has repeatedly denied tanking occurs in his league, even saying, “If there was any indication whatsoever that players or coaches somehow were not doing their absolute most to win a game, we would be all over that. But I don’t believe for a second that’s what’s going on.”
Does tanking happen in the NBA?
It depends on your definition.
If a coach rests his top players and would have used them if there weren’t incentive to finish with a worse record, is that tanking? If a coach gives larger roles to unproven young players to a degree he wouldn’t if there weren’t incentive to finish with a worse record, is that tanking? If a coach experiments with weird lineups he wouldn’t use if there weren’t incentive to finish with a worse record, is that tanking? If players see all this chaos and mail in their effort, is that tanking?
What about this?
Former Kings/Nuggets/Bucks/Sonics/Warriors/Cavaliers coach George Karl in “Furious George: My Forty Years Surviving NBA Divas, Clueless GMs, and Poor Shot Selection:”
Don’t believe it when teams say they don’t lose on purpose to improve their draft position. It happens every year. I know of a Western Conference owner who called his coach during games to remind him to keep an end-of-season losing streak alive.
Bryan Colangelo admitted to tanking while Raptors general manager. The owner Karl mentions was clearly tanking.
But there’s no evidence the coach followed through, and Silver’s definition refers to only coaches and players. So, I guess everything is OK.