Silver: NBA Closely Monitoring Possible Tanking Efforts

With a competitive race to the bottom of the NBA standings taking shape, the concept of tanking has been in the news a little too much for the league’s liking as of late, prompting commissioner Adam Silver to remind teams of the NBA’s stance. As Sam Amick of USA Today details, Silver sent a memo to all 30 teams last week on the same day that he issued a $600K fine to Mavericks owner Mark Cuban for his public comments on tanking.

Within his memo, Silver noted that the NBA has been “careful to distinguish” between genuine rebuilding efforts and instances in which players or coaches make any effort to lose games. While the former is described by Silver as a “legitimate strategy to construct a successful team,” he reiterates that the latter has “no place” in the NBA.

“If we ever received evidence that players or coaches were attempting to lose or otherwise taking steps to cause any game to result otherwise than on its competitive merits, that conduct would be met with the swiftest and harshest response possible from the league office,” Silver said.

Tanking is generally perceived as a strategy dictated by team management, rather than players or coaches. While players would never deliberately try to lose a game, roster and lineup decisions coming from above can make winning an uphill battle for those same players. Silver’s memo stresses that the “integrity of the competition on the playing court” is his primary concern, and he wants to avoid even the perception that it’s compromised in any way.

“We have no basis at this time to conclude that the Mavericks team is giving anything less than its best effort on the court, and Mark has assured us that this is not the case,” Silver said in the memo, referring to Cuban. “But even a suggestion that such conduct could be occurring is obviously damaging to our game, as it creates a perception of impropriety. It is also extraordinarily unfair to the players and coaches who are, in fact, competing at their highest possible level every night. You are therefore advised to avoid such statements, and to pass along this admonition to all other key personnel in your organizations.

“We will continue to monitor closely the play of all teams during the remainder of the season,” Silver concluded.

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