ESPN basketball reporter Adrian Wojnarowski dropped an enticing little anecdote on his most recent podcast, which was noticed today by an astute Reddit sleuth. Woj was talking to Bobby Marks about the NBA season’s hotly contested tank-off and said an owner recently yelled at his coach for winning a game. “I know of an instance of an owner berating, really berating his coach here in the last several weeks of the season for going in and beating a pretty good team on the road, going, ‘What are you doing?’”
So, who was it? Eight teams were actively tanking at the end of the season, and the Suns eventually “won” by finishing 21-61. Owners and front-office types might have wanted to lose every game possible, but getting coaches to actively sabotage their teams is tougher, and getting players to throw games is basically impossible. Given the information provided by Woj, and restricting “last several weeks” to the last three weeks of the regular season, here are the potentially inflammatory wins.
- March 25: Knicks - 101, Wizards - 97
- March 26: Grizzlies - 101, Wolves - 93
- April 6: Hawks - 103, Wizards - 97
- April 8: Hawks - 112, Celtics - 106
- April 11: Knicks - 110, Cavaliers - 98
Those are the five likeliest candidates based on a strict reading of Woj’s little scoop. The Atlanta Hawks’ owners have the best case to be infuriated, since the team lost a shot at the second-worst record by inexplicably beating two playoff teams at the end of the season, then losing a coin flip against the Mavericks to finish with the fourth-best lottery odds.