On Feb. 21, Commissioner Adam Silver sent a memo to all 30 NBA teams explaining the recent penalty (a $600,000 fine) assessed to Mark Cuban for publicly admitting that the Dallas Mavericks were tanking.
The letter, obtained by USA Today, acknowledged the frequent “public discourse” about tanking:
Over the past several seasons, discussions about so-called ‘tanking’ in the NBA have occurred with some frequency, both in the public discourse and within our league, and you as governors have taken steps to address the underlying incentive issues by adopting changes to our draft lottery system that will go into effect next year.
But it also made abundantly clear the League’s strict opposition to the practice, as Silver emphasized that “the integrity of the competition on the playing court is the cornerstone” of the NBA:
Throughout this period, we have been careful to distinguish between efforts teams may make to rebuild their rosters, including through personnel changes over the course of several seasons, and circumstances in which players or coaches on the floor take steps to lose games.
The former can be a legitimate strategy to construct a successful team within the confines of league rules; the latter — which we have not found and hope never to see in the NBA — has no place in our game. If we ever received evidence that players or coaches were attempting to lose or otherwise taking steps to cause any game to result otherwise than on its competitive merits, that conduct would be met with the swiftest and harshest response possible from the league office.