Don't tell Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski that the 2013-14 NBA season has been referred to as Tankapalooza and The Great Tank War of 2014. As a patriot, Coach K doesn't want to hear that anyone could possibly be tanking the season to land Duke freshman Jabari Parker or Andrew Wiggins, Kansas' teen sensation.
"As an American, I wouldn't like to think that an American team would never want to lose or create situations where you would want to lose," Krzyzewski said after Duke's 94-83 loss to Kansas on Tuesday night. "I can't even fathom. I can't go there. I can't believe that that would happen. Maybe I'm naive and I'm going to go read a fairy tale after this but... if that is happening, shame on whoever is doing it."
In an interview with Jeff Goodman of ESPN The Magazine before the start of the NBA schedule, an anonymous general manager provided his take on why a team might be just fine with losing this season.
"Our team isn't good enough to win and we know it. So this season we want to develop and evaluate our young players, let them learn from their mistakes -- and get us in position to grab a great player," the unnamed GM told Goodman. "The best way for us to do that is to lose a lot of games. This draft is loaded. There are potential All-Stars at the top, maybe even franchise changers. Sometimes my job is to understand the value of losing."
Even if Krzyzewski can't fathom tanking, he should have a fine understanding of the players causing speculation about such behavior. Right before his eyes in Chicago, Parker and Wiggins put on show that even LeBron James noticed.