NEW YORK – They lost often, as in 67 times for the Milwaukee Bucks.
Sometimes they lost always, as in 26 straight times for the Philadelphia 76ers.
Now the NBA’s biggest losers have a chance for a huge win.
The draft lottery is today, a night some teams appeared to be aiming toward for months during a season featuring plenty of talking about tanking.
The winner gets the No. 1 pick in next month’s draft, when an Andrew Wiggins or Jabari Parker might make all of this season’s misery worth it.
It’s a potential make-or-break night for some teams, which is why a program about the results of a random drawing ends up as the prime-time lead-in for Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals.
To me it’s part of the mystery and part of the enjoyment in seeing who’s right, who’s wrong, Commissioner Adam Silver said recently.
Will these perceived great players coming into the draft really be in a position to turn around teams? So it’s part of the fun.
The Bucks and 76ers sure are enjoying it, and trying to get their fans in on the good times.
There’s a viewing party in Milwaukee where all fans get a pingpong ball. The 76ers were giving away a trip to New York.
Silver is aware of the tanking speculation and uneasy that fans might think NBA teams were willing to take their money without caring if they win the games.
But he understands that teams sometimes need to rebuild, and that may mean going straight to the bottom if they think that’s the quickest route to the top.
The jury is out on the strategy, and I think that makes for good copy as well. I’m intrigued, Silver said.
I read both sides of it in terms of, is that the right way to build a team, what impact does it have on culture, can you rebuild a team in two years, can you rebuild in three years, what’s the track record of teams trying to do that, Silver added, and I am mindful that in a league of 30 teams that we’re also selling competition on a nightly basis and I don’t want to create a sense that we want to subject fans to subpar performances because don’t worry, it’s going to be great three years from now.
The Bucks have a 25 percent chance to win and give incoming new ownership a great welcoming gift.
Philadelphia (19.9 percent), Orlando (15.6) and Utah (10.4) have the next-best chances, with longtime powerhouses Boston and the Lakers behind them after rare poor seasons.