Sports Law Blog
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Saturday, April 14, 2007
Ryan Gomes and "The Hunt for a High Draft Pick"
Earlier this week, I published a couple of posts on NBA teams deliberately losing games in order to secure a better lottery position ("Why Does Tanking Occur in the NBA but Seemingly Not in Other Leagues?" & "The Pursuit of Crappyness: Are NBA Teams Tanking Games for Greg Oden and Kevin Durant?"). The readers' comments to the those posts are fantastic, as are reactions on other websites and blogs. My genuine thanks to all those who commented and who linked to the post, and particularly to ESPN's Bill Simmons and Henry Abbott and Sports Illustrated's Kelly Dwyer.
But despite what most would say is fairly strong evidence of NBA teams tanking, some are skeptical that players would ever agree to a scheme where games are purposefully lost. And there are some compelling reasons for that skepticism.
First off, aren't players prideful about competing and winning games? And even if they aren't--let's say they are completely selfish--wouldn't they care about their stats for their purposes of future contract and endorsement opportunities? So why would a player play worse to help a team lose? Or why would he not play in games, or parts of games, due to what are really phantom injuries, thus potentially making him appear less durable and less tough (which again would seem to jeopardize future contract and endorsement opportunities)?
Those arguments certainly have some logic to them. But to counter them, I bring you Boston Celtics forward Ryan Gomes, a graduate of Providence College and the Celtics' second round pick in the 2005 NBA draft. Gomes is one of the Celtics better players, averaging 12 points and 6 rebounds a game, making him the Celtics 4th leading scorer and 3rd best rebounder. Of interest to this topic, Gomes and starting point guard Rajon Rondo were curiously benched for the fourth quarter of the Celtics home game against the Milwaukee Bucks last night--a game the Celtics lost by two points, thereby securing the second worst record in the NBA this season, and preventing the Bucks, holders of the third worst record, from "overtaking" them for that honor/dishonor.
When asked why he didn't play in the fourth quarter, Gomes surprisingly admitted the obvious:
"I probably (would have played), but since we were in the hunt for a high draft pick, of course things are different. I understand that. Hopefully things get better. Now that we clinched at least having the second-most balls in the lottery, the last three games we'll see what happens. We'll see if we can go out and finish some games."The "hunt for a high draft pick." Gotta love this game.