By Ken Reed
Playoff spots were on the line last night in the NBA, the final night of the regular season. But the NBA and a few of its franchises made a mockery of the playoff race.
After a terrible start to the season, the Miami Heat made a remarkable run down the stretch in a quest to land a playoff berth. On the last night of the season, they needed to beat Washington and have the Chicago Bulls or Indiana Pacers lose to get in. The Heat took care of business by winning its game against Washington but Chicago and Indiana also won, so the Heat are out of the playoffs.
Fair enough, until you look a little deeper and see that both Chicago’s and Indiana’s opponents rested numerous players, basically giving the games away. The Bulls played the Brooklyn Nets. The Nets long ago were eliminated from the playoffs and couldn’t improve their draft position by tanking the game with Chicago. Still, despite the game against the Bulls having playoff implications for Chicago and Miami, the Nets decided to not try. They rested six players, including leading scorers Jeremy Lin and Brook Lopez. Why did these players have to rest? Did they have early tee times the next morning?
Whazzup Brooklyn? Why did you do it? The Miami players had busted their rear ends during the second half of the season in order to still be in playoff contention on the last night of the season. But the Brooklyn coaching staff, or administration, or both decided to simply hand the last playoff spot to Chicago.
Indiana’s opponent, Atlanta, had already secured a playoff berth against Washington. So, they at least had the excuse that they were resting key players for the playoffs. Brooklyn? The Nets had absolutely no excuse for not showing up against Chicago.
NBA commissioner, Adam Silver, has a major integrity problem on his hands. On any given night, he — along with league fans — don’t know which teams are going to try and which teams are going to tank.
Silver and the owners better fix this problem over the summer before the NBA moves any closer to professional wrestling on the integrity metric.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of FansPrint
- League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.