Wednesday, May 30, 2007

TANKS, FOR NOTHING

The moment I arrived back from Cancun, I jumped on my computer and started searching for it...

...and I was stunned when I didn't see it show up anywhere...

No, I'm not referring to a Michael Vick arrest or a Brewers victory (I had actually planned on writing my next article chronicling the "Brewers withdrawal" that I suffered from while I was in Cancun. Since they managed to lose every game during my trip, however, I've decided that perhaps the Brewers were suffering from a little "Rosenthal withdrawal". And perhaps what I was suffering from was, in fact, merely diarrhea. I was in Mexico, after all.) There's certainly plenty to discuss in regards to the Crew struggles, which I'll get back to in the next couple days, but for now I'd like to focus on the fortunes of your Milwaukee Bucks...

One of the last pieces of sports news I suffered through before our early Wednesday departure was that Portland, Seattle and Atlanta moved ahead of all three of the bottom feeders in the NBA Draft Lottery. And as I sat on the plane, I knew that I would return to an inbox full of messages from my friends regarding a conspiracy theory against the teams that so obviously tanked down the stretch of the regular season--especially the Bucks and Celtics. But nothing was there.

So I waited for Bill Simmons blog attacking the commissioner for this obvious affront to his beloved Celtics. After all, it is Simmons who has carried the torch towards revealing the conspiracy behind the Knicks receiving the rights to Patrick Ewing all those years ago...but when I checked his column, Simmons had written about the "luck" of his Celtics, but never pointed a finger towards the commish for setting it all up:
http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=simmons/070523&sportCat=nba

So i guess I'm going to have to--The 2007 draft Lottery was rigged. Rigged, I say. Rigged, rigged, rigged.

David Stern was not about to let what happened in March and April of the 2007 season become a trend for future NBA seasons. He doesn't want it to happen ever, ever again. And he sent a very loud and clear message to the Bucks and Celtics (and to some extent Memphis) that the NBA will not tolerate blatant tanking for any portion of the NBA season.

Now, before you start to tell me that this is what a lottery system is all about, please spare me the lesson on chance. What I look at is the numbers. And these numbers say that the chances of all three of these teams falling out of the top three spots was very, very slim.

Consider this:
Memphis had a 25% chance of landing the top pick.
Boston was at 19.9%
And Milwaukee 15.6%

That means there was a 60.5% chance that one of the top 3 teams was going to land the top pick.

And, yes, i can deal with the fact that it also means there was a 40% chance against any of the top three teams being selected. But on the second pick? And again on the third pick? And keep in mind, those odds only would have increased in favor of the tank masters when Portland and then Seattle were taken out of the mix.

Do you know what the probability of those three not being selected for any of the three picks was?

Me either. But it was damn low.

(And actually, if anyone is good with probability; please share...)

No. Stern sent a message. And you know what? I agree with it.

What the Bucks did for the last month of the season was wrong. And it wasn't fair to the fans who bought tickets months in advance expecting to see the real Milwaukee Bucks in April and not the Earl Boykins lead jv team. Now don't get me wrong...I was cheering for the Bucks to lose as much as the next fan. Visions of Redd to Bogut to Durant eased me into a blissful state of sleep on many April evenings. But it's one thing for me to want them to lose and another when the Bucks do everything in their power to make it happen.

Perhaps Charlie V really did need to get shut down. And maybe Andrew did too. But boy it would have been nice to see coach K get a chance to work with Andrew on playing with his back to the basket.

And as far as the games that Michael Redd seemed to need rest at the most crucial points of the 4th quater? Well, he's made no bones about his desire to play with his large fellow alum from Ohio State. So maybe even Michael was a co-conspirator of the stanky tank of '07.

And I know some will argue that my theory doesn't hold water since Atlanta was one of the teams to make the top three, despite the fact that they too took part in Tankorama '07. But Commissioner Stern is smart. If you were going to try to hide your fix, what better team to allow into the top three than the team that has managed to screw up the past two drafts? Isn't it punishment enough for the Atlanta fans to have to watch their front office pass up on Conley Jr. in the same way they passed on Deron Williams and Chris Paul?

And who knows maybe the 6th pick ends up being next year's Brandon Roy and not another Tractor Traylor. And maybe the Bucks keep Villanueva, Bogut, Redd and Simmons healthy for the next few seasons so that they avoid the lottery for years to come. There's really no telling.

But I'm willing to bet, no matter what happens next year, the Bucks will be playing hard until the very end.

And for that, Mr. Stern, you have my thanks...

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