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Basketball philosophy

No, the NBA lottery is not rigged, if you think so you’re not looking at this close enough

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Anthony Davis Jordan Brand Classic 2011

Anthony Davis Jordan Brand Classic 2011 (Photo credit: BasketballElite)

The New Orleans Hornets won the 2012 NBA lottery and Anthony Davis sweepstakes and predictably the “rigged!” chorus has begun. The Hornets were owned by the NBA until a (not finalized) deal with Tom Benson, Saints owner. The natural joke is that Davis was a condition for the sale.

The slight entertainment of the jokes aside, in reality actually believing there’s a chance this thing is rigged is inane for a few reasons.

The first is pragmatically, it’d take an Ocean’s Eleven complexity of heist to do it. The lottery is in reality drawn by a 4 ball combination – plus representatives from Ernst & Young, big-shot accounting firm, preside over it specifically to legitimize the process and separate the NBA from control in it.

But there may be an even bigger reason the NBA rigging the lottery doesn’t make sense: The motive.

Essentially for the NBA to do this would be the equivalent of me going out and murdering someone, in terms of the repercussions the NBA and those involved in the fraud would get for it. There’s a reason no (sane) people go out and murder people over trivial things, because the repercussions far outweigh the motive to do it. There is also no way for the NBA to do this without a form of risk, due to the before-mentioned precautions preventing it. There would likely have to be many people involved, likely Ernst & Young would have to be in on the conspiracy too. With many people comes the greater chance of a leak and revealing of the conspiracy. This is not David Stern folding an envelope. It’d have to be a conspiracy between multiple people.

Thus they’d better damn hope it’s worth it.

And it’s not. Not even close.

Look at the motive people are saying the NBA has for rigging it for the Hornets. To boost them financially in the wake of their new owner, to save them in New Orleans in the post Chris Paul doldrums. But here’s the thing: Getting Anthony Davis helps EVERY team financially. A high profile #1 boosts every team’s ticket sales and if he indeed is a superstar who leads them to a decade of Spurs like ultra-successful seasons, this is going to be a massive money making night and game changer for all franchises. Anthony Davis supercharges the finance of any team likely by a similar amount, the only difference is if he turns a weak selling market into a good one or a good selling market into a great one. If he goes to Charlotte he saves a financially burning franchise and gives them long term viability. However if he goes to Washington he suddenly creates a powerhouse franchise for the league, a hotshot John Wall, Anthony Davis, Nene trio in the nation’s capital – it can make the Wizards as important as the Capitals are for the NHL or the Redskins are for the NFL. Cleveland gets recharged financially if they win Davis to pair with Kyrie Irving to immediately become a playoff mainstay – and the league gets great future opportunities with a Heat and Cavaliers rivalry. Sacramento desperately needs Davis to make them a winner and seller again and they would be if he played with Demarcus Cousins. Brooklyn, like Washington, would be justified as turning a team that’s going to sell into a potential media leading brand in the league. If you go through it the rule remains the same. Davis is awesome financially for any team who wins him, the difference is where the teams start, not how much he helps them.

So let’s get back to the NBA’s motive for rigging it. If we assumed it was financial, it’d have to come down to the difference between one team winning it more any of the other 7 or 8 realistic choices. They’d have to judge how much more money Davis makes the NBA via the Hornets vs how much he does via Charlotte, Washington, Cleveland, Sacramento, New Jersey, Golden State. And if you look at it you’ll notice there is very little difference in what Davis actually adds compared to the replacement lottery winner. The NBA already won financially by having a player with Anthony Davis’ talent and brand built in college in the draft. Where he goes doesn’t really make a difference, he’s a big boon anywhere.

The truth is this: If there’s any motive for the NBA to financially prefer Davis in New Orleans compared to a Charlotte, Washington, Cleveland, etc., it’s VERY insignificant. And the process of actually rigging the lottery would be unbelievably complex and dangerous for the league – As in, destroying a billion dollar business dangerous. The combination simply doesn’t make sense. It’d be the equivalent of the NBA killing everyone in a restaurant so they don’t have to pay the $12 bill for a spaghetti. The financial motive would be about as small as saving that one meal bill, the repercussions for the crime would be like that restaurant murderer spending the rest of life in jail, and the difficulty of getting away with it would be as high as committing that murder in a downtown restaurant in the middle of the day and not getting caught.

For the NBA to do that crime for that motive would be complete, illogical insanity.

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Written by jr.

May 30, 2012 at 10:21 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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