Jeff Van Gundy: Tanking kills credibility

April, 17, 2012
4/17/12
3:51
PM ET
Mason By Beckley Mason
ESPN.com
Archive
Jeff Van Gundy is making life easy for HoopIdea. Another day, another way that Van Gundy (and HoopIdea) would like to improve the game.

On Monday the former Knicks and Rockets coach joined Houston’s Vandermeer and Lopez to talk about the NBA and one of his main "HoopIdea" topics: tanking.
I think a huge problem in the NBA is developing with the undervaluing of the regular season.

Teams tank. Not just the last 10 games. Now they’re tanking seasons. What happened to Michael Jordan [owner of the 7-53 Charlotte Bobcats]? This was the most competitive player during my time in the NBA. Dominant. Now he has an abomination of a team.

Michael Jordan the player would have detested Michael Jordan the owner, and I don’t understand for the life of me why we give teams that aren’t trying to win the best chance to get the best players.

I think we’re building a huge problem in the NBA where the media, the teams, the owners of the team, are all -- they’re not saying it, but they’re doing it -- they're devaluing these regular seasons.

So I ask the question: If no one thinks it's valuable, why would you advertise, why would you watch, why would you buy tickets?

This is why I give the Rockets a lot of credit. They could have gone this way but they would have been making their fans buy an inferior product. So I give them credit: They’re trying to give their fans the best possible value for their money. And a lot of these teams just are not. And I think it’s absolutely going to hurt the NBA.

Van Gundy was also asked how he would fix the system. Like HoopIdea, he thinks any fix would include restructuring the regular-season incentives, starting with the draft lottery. But he also includes an idea for short term financial incentives that would encourage owners to try at the end of the season.
I think it starts with the lottery. I think it served its purpose at one time but the way it’s structured now -- to try and lose the most so you get the most chances for the No. 1 pick -- I think is now backfiring.

I think the second aspect of it is that somehow there has to be a financial incentive for these teams to win even down the stretch when they’re not making the playoffs, to play their best players to try to win games.

If you don’t incentivize the owners by money, then they have no incentive.

You know there’s no easy [answers] on this, but there should be discussions. But the people that you need to agree with are the owners who’ve set the tone. And I just find that when teams are trying to lose, doesn’t that say something about the credibility of your sport?

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Beckley Mason is an NBA contributor for ESPN.com.

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