Every June, the owners and coaches of the National Basketball Association (NBA) gather to draft the best college players. To make the draft fair — and to improve the overall quality of the teams — the NBA instituted a lottery system in which the lowest ranked teams received better odds of landing a top prospect. In fact, the club with the very worst record in the NBA has a 25 percent chance of nabbing the No. 1 draft pick [source: Petchesky].
The unintended consequence of the lottery system is the widespread tactic of "tanking," or losing games on purpose in order to finish the season with the worst record in the league. Tanking is less of a conspiracy theory and more of a fully accepted fact of NBA life. No one is surprised when a lousy team starts benching its best players with questionable "groin injuries" once it's mathematically impossible for them to make the playoffs [source: Kang].
NBA commissioner Adam Silver flatly denies that tanking exists, arguing that no NBA coach or player is "going out there to lose" [source: Shelburne]. Nice try, Silver. Even the fans of NBA teams get in on the act, actively rooting against their squad — it's called "fantanking" — and wearing "Please Lose!" shirts to games [source: NBAtanking.com].