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Sunday, April 09, 2023

The NBA Was Much Better When Load Management and Tanking Did Not Exist

A lot has changed in the NBA in the past 40 years, and many of the changes are not improvements. NBA players used to have complete skill sets; no one talked about "two way players" because the expectation was that all players--and particularly the star players--at least competed on defense, even if they were not exceptional defenders. Most of the top scorers had a variety of fundamental moves that did not involve traveling or flopping and flailing

The NBA game was not only more fundamentally sound and aesthetically pleasing, but the players actually showed up to games on a consistent basis. If you bought a ticket to go to a game to see your favorite player play, he almost certainly played. In 1982-83--when Moses Malone and Julius Erving led the Philadelphia 76ers on a glorious, record-setting 12-1 playoff run culminating in a 4-0 NBA Finals sweep of the defending champion L.A. Lakers--39 NBA players played in all 82 regular season games, and Clemon Johnson played in 83 regular season games (51 with Indiana, followed by 32 with Philadelphia). An additional 22 players played in 81 regular season games. Those numbers were typical for that era; in 1981-82, 42 players played in all 82 regular season games, and three players played in more than 82 games, while an additional 21 players played in 81 regular season games. 

It was a given during that era that MVP level players rarely missed games. From 1967-82, the NBA regular season MVP played in 81 or 82 games every year except for 1978, when 1977 NBA Finals MVP Bill Walton captured the regular season MVP despite being limited to 58 games due to injuries--and Walton was not "load managing": he was legitimately injured. Erving won four regular season MVPs during his ABA/NBA career; in those MVP seasons, he played in 84, 84, 84, and 82 games (the ABA regular season lasted 84 games). Malone won three regular season MVPs during his ABA/NBA career; in those MVP seasons, he played in 82, 81, and 78 games.

Playing all 82 games used to be a badge of honor for NBA players.

In contrast, in 2022-23 just nine players played in all 82 games. Mikal Bridges, perhaps the last throwback to a bygone age when the Jedi protected the Republic while the league, teams, and players cared about competition, played in 83 games (56 with Phoenix, followed by 27 with Brooklyn). Bridges entered the NBA in 2018-19, and he has yet to miss a game. 

The creation of the Play-In Tournament was supposed to minimize load management and tanking by incentivizing teams to play hard for all 82 games with the hope of at least earning the coveted 10th seed. Predictably, that is not how things have turned out. Last Friday, the Dallas Mavericks--with a chance to grab the Western Conference's 10th seed with a win and some help from other teams--rested every main player on their roster dating all the way back to Mark Aguirre. Luka Doncic played a whopping 12 minutes so that he could get credit for a game played, but he sat out the final three quarters of what turned out to be a 115-112 loss to the Chicago Bulls. The NBA is reportedly investigating the Mavericks for this blatant tanking. In 2018, the NBA fined Dallas owner Mark Cuban $600,000 for publicly stating "Losing is our best option." Since $600,000 did not prove to be sufficient to curb Cuban's tanking, I suggest that $1,200,000 plus forfeiting the draft pick that the Mavericks were trying to protect by losing on purpose might get Cuban's attention--and yes, I understand that the NBA is unlikely to do that, but if the league is serious about putting an end to tanking then Commissioner Adam Silver must impose penalties that convey that seriousness.

Also, the NBA's tanking investigation should not be limited to the Dallas Mavericks. Golden State just beat a team wearing Portland uniforms that did not feature the Trail Blazers' core players; the individual and team statistics from that 157-101 blowout--including Golden State's record 55 point first quarter--are meaningless, and the predetermined outcome of the game not only impacted playoff seeding but also had potential wagering implications (which matters now because the NBA and other sports leagues have intertwined their operations with wagering businesses). 

The toxic combination of tanking and load management cheats the fans who buy tickets to see their favorite players, compromises the integrity of playoff seeding, devalues individual and team statistics, and creates a host of issues regarding legalized wagering. There is a simple response to anyone who claims that "the science" proves that load management protects player health and safety: use "the science" to determine how many games players can safely play, limit the season to that number of games, and set the expectation that players will participate in a full season unless they have a legitimate injury.

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posted by David Friedman @ 11:42 PM



At Monday, April 10, 2023 2:48:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

At this point it is probably time for more radical changes.

Such as doing away with the principle that the teams at the bottom should have an advantage during the draft. Or even inverting it.

That might create more dynasties than we've had in the past, but if it is combined with a restructuring of the salary cap, an already stacked team that gets lucky and drafts yet another star will not be able to keep all those players for financial reasons and some of them will be redistributed.

Over the last 20 years, which is the real tanking era, the list of top 3 picks for bad teams that then contributed in a major way to those teams reaching the finals is very short -- LeBron, Dwight Howard, Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving. Maybe Ayton for the Suns too, but really any moderately competent center might have filled that role.

Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown were top 3 picks for the Celtics, but in both cases those were traded picks that the Celtics got not because they sucked on purpose.

The better way to build a team is through smart drafting of players lower down the draft order and then having a structure to develop then within. Something that being bad on purpose for years directly destroys.

This is why in addition to those listed above, other top picks have also reached finals and won championships, but they did so elsewhere, not where they were drafted. Because by definition they were drafted into a bad team, and that bad team was bad for structural reasons, which did not go away with having the luck to draft a young star, and of course it did not work.

So if you look at it that way, what is really the benefit in terms of enforcing parity to have the draft odds structured as they are now?

Currently it encourages tanking, which destroys the integrity of the game, and it also encourages developing bad team cultures that ensure that the teams that suck will continue to be mediocre at best.

At Monday, April 10, 2023 9:52:00 AM, Anonymous TR said...

Sorry to digress from the point of your post, David, but I had a thought this morning that I needed to get down somewhere.

I think I understand why issues like load management and tanking are tricky to solve. It seems like you need to have owners and players on the same page here, and different teams and players have different priorities.

I don't think I understand why traveling and flopping are so prevalent. The NBA could simply tell its teams and players that it's cracking down more on these calls, couldn't it? If the league wanted to, for example, ban the hesi move, would the NBAPA have any say in the matter?

I'm 36 years old and remember watching the league when I was very young. I was obsessed as a teen and young adult. But it seems like this game - the actual product on the court, separate from other nasty issues like tanking, load management, the play-in tournament, etc. - is changing from what I knew into something else.

Do you feel that way too, and if so does it bother you? I'm running out of players that I like to see play the game!

At Monday, April 10, 2023 11:08:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...


I agree with you that radical changes are needed. I am not sure that the league office, the owners, or the players are willing to make radical changes, because those three groups appear to believe that the way that the league functions now is highly profitable.

You are correct that winning teams--let alone championship teams--cannot be built with a losing culture. I have made that point many times, and I have cited a study showing that tanking does not work--that tanking teams have never won a title. It is interesting that people who claim to follow "the science" and who claim to rely on supposedly objective "advanced basketball statistics" are unwilling or incapable of drawing accurate conclusions based on the available data.

As a fan, whenever I see a team tanking I hope that the team never wins anything of consequence. I grew up rooting for the Philadelphia 76ers, but I could never root for that team again until every last vestige of the "Process" is gone. Fortunately, based on the data the likelihood that Embiid and company will ever win a title is not high.

At Monday, April 10, 2023 11:14:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...


Yes, the issues that you cited bother me, and I have written about this many times.

As with many things regarding the NBA--and life in general--the answer to your question of why these issues persist is money. The NBA apparently believes that marketing a game with a lot of offense and a lot of fancy ballhandling--including traveling, plus flopping and flailing to draw fouls (which leads to more scoring via the free throw line)--is the best way to make the most money. I am not sure that the NBA is correct about this--I think that a 1980s-style NBA marketed with today's social media tools would be tremendously profitable--but I am sure that the NBA is convinced that this thinking is correct.

There has been more outcry about flop and flail than about traveling, so the NBA has taken some steps to mitigate flop and flail, which is the main reason that James Harden reverted from being a 30-plus ppg scorer to being a 20-plus ppg scorer; in a league that enforces rules correctly, James Harden is an All-Star, not the MVP candidate/Top 75 player that he has been promoted to be.

At Monday, April 10, 2023 11:32:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tanking has worked exactly once, when the San Antonio Spurs did it in 1996, but that was a single-season tank prompted by an initial legitimate injury (they did lean into the tank, though, resting other players and making no effort to win games in spite of the injury) in order to get Tim Duncan.

You could also perhaps argue the Warriors attempted something similar in 2020, but it did not pay off as Wiseman was if anything a detriment to their team (though if they win the title this year and Gary Payton is part of the reason why, then I suppose it would have paid off somewhat in a roundabout way).

To your point, there is no history of sustained tanking working out. Team culture can perhaps survive one year of wink wink "we'll get 'em next year" tanking, but it cannot survive a pervasive commitment to losing.

At Monday, April 10, 2023 12:23:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...


The key point about San Antonio in 1996 that should not be minimized is "an initial legitimate injury." The Spurs did not hatch some "master plan" to intentionally lose for several seasons, a la Philadelphia's infamous "Process" that has so far resulted in a lot of hype for a team that has peaked with second round playoff losses. I am not a fan of intentionally losing even one game, but whatever the Spurs did in 1996 after losing David Robinson to a season-ending injury cannot be justifiably compared to the pre-planned, multi-season tanking being engaged in by many NBA teams.

I am so disgusted by the tanking that I would advocate getting rid of the draft in favor of a (mostly) hard salary cap and a relatively open market for players; by that I mean that the salary cap would have very limited exceptions to enable teams to re-sign their own players, with those exceptions not to be used to build super teams by stealing players from other teams. Some form of salary cap is needed to prevent the major market teams from just scooping up all of the most talented players. The reason that is necessary in sports but not in other businesses (to anticipate an often-asked question regarding this topic) is that the pool of elite athletes is much smaller than the pool of elite lawyers or software engineers; firms can bid on elite lawyers or software engineers without cornering the market, but if one NBA team buys the top five players in the league then the other teams have no chance to compete--and that matters because even though the teams are competing against each other on the court they are ultimately part of the same business, and it is not good business for one team to drive the other teams out of business.

If great athletes think that they can make more money working in an industry with no salary cap, then instead of practicing jump shots they should focus on entering other professions and see if the open market in those professions pays more than the sports leagues pay.

At Monday, April 10, 2023 1:05:00 PM, Anonymous TR said...

Thanks for the reply, David. It's been a tough year as an NBA fan! Appreciate your consistent and thought-provoking commentary. I can't remember if I discovered your blog this year or the year prior, but it's helped keep my head in the game in different ways (appreciation of history and analysis of present).

At Monday, April 10, 2023 1:30:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...


You're welcome! It is tough to be an NBA fan now, but hopefully the game will improve. If the powers that be had greater knowledge and appreciation of the past that would probably be helpful in terms of making the necessary corrections/improvements to the modern game.

At Monday, April 10, 2023 9:25:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Didn't thr Astros build a dynasty by tanking for a few years? https://www.si.com/mlb/2017/10/24/houston-astros-jeff-luhnow-jim-crane-tanking.

At Tuesday, April 11, 2023 1:33:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...


The Astros built a dynasty by stealing signals, a cheating scandal so big that even MLB could not completely ignore it: https://besteversportstalk.blogspot.com/2020/01/the-disgraceful-secret-of-astros-and.html

Until proven otherwise, Astros' success should be attributed more to cheating than to tanking.

Also, baseball and basketball are different sports played in different leagues under different rules, so even if tanking worked in MLB that would not prove that it works in the NBA.

At Tuesday, April 11, 2023 1:34:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...


The Astros built a dynasty by stealing signals, a cheating scandal so big that even MLB could not completely ignore it: https://besteversportstalk.blogspot.com/2020/01/the-disgraceful-secret-of-astros-and.html

Until proven otherwise, the Astros' success should be attributed more to cheating than to tanking.

Also, baseball and basketball are different sports played in different leagues under different rules, so even if tanking worked in MLB that would not prove that it works in the NBA.

At Tuesday, April 11, 2023 3:19:00 AM, Anonymous Kevin Pojani said...

The NBA I grew up with (00s) had superstars often playing at least 80 games and if they played less than that it was usually at least 75 games and due to a legitimate injury or a suspension. Today’s players are making far more money even adjusting for inflation and yet play far less games and possessions. I don’t really have an issue with the money superstars like Giannis and LeBron get since they are the true cash cows of the sport and generally at least show up and compete when healthy (not so much nowadays for LeBron but for most of his career he was good for around 80 games). Some of these role players, however, make in 1 year what superstars in the 80s and before couldn’t make for their entire careers and that just doesn’t sit right with me especially given how often they load manage and how specialized their skill sets are . Larry Bird made about 24 million for his entire 13 year career and often played through injury and often played 40+ minutes per game, there is close to 50 making that much in this season alone. Absurd

When I was a kid I was mystified by why the 80s/90s generation had this resentment towards 00s players that boiled down to money, it started to make sense when I found out how much more players were making in the 00s and how it’s gotten much more lucrative playing in the NBA. Every generation of NBA players is standing on the shoulders of the (literal) giants that came before them and it’s a shame older players especially pre Magic/Bird players do not get their dues for paving the way for the perks today’s players get

If today’s players played at least 90% of the season and prided themselves on two way play and entertaining the fans then it would be whatever, but the effort they’re putting in even in the games they show up in doesn’t justify some of these ridiculous contracts non superstars get

I do like the league’s attempt to curb down load management by requiring at least 65 games for all nba and MVP honors. It’s a step in the right direction even if it’s a small step

What the Mavs did the other night was despicable, no other comment on that but just wanted to at least show my disdain for how the Mavs finished their season

At Tuesday, April 11, 2023 5:03:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

@Kevin Pojani

This is what hypercapitalism leads to.

Now of course the league has always been about making money first. Teams were mercilessly uprooted and moved all across the country if they weren't making money where they were located, players were badly mistreated by owners, etc. etc.

But still, it was a very different society in the first few decades -- residual collective spirit post-WWII, New Deal policies still not dismantled, and so on. All that is completely gone now and it is all about profit maximization.

It isn't just basketball, it's every area of life.

There was a time when artists were about the art first. No longer, that hasn't been the case since at least the turn of the millennium. It's all about revenue, and the what art is produced is determined by that mandate.

Scientists are no longer about advancing knowledge and educating the next generations, it is all about patents, commercialization, start ups, and making money.


In that overall environment it is only logical that professional sports evolve in the direction of professional wrestling. If it is all about making money and nothing else, then what is the point in competing hard?

Remember LeBron saying that his goal is to become a billionaire? I don't recall him saying that his goal is to dominate the game to the fullest extent allowed by his near-supernatural physical gifts. No. His goal was to be a billionaire. In retrospect that explains a lot about how his career went.

If success for a player is determined in the financial realm, then what is the point in playing hard every game? There is none, as there is very little correlation between success on the court and making money. Contracts are guaranteed, and GMs have given max contracts to all sorts of players who had absolutely no business ever getting one. The other sources of income -- endorsements, shoes, etc. -- are also not particularly tied to success on the court, but to popularity. Gimmicks and marketability are key there. How popular was James Harden in the late 2010s? Do I need to say more? Although, to his credit, usually he did play hard, but he was one of the few exceptions left.

What then is the point of playing hard in the ASG, in most of the regular season, and so on? There is none.


At Tuesday, April 11, 2023 5:04:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

(continuing due to character limit)

Ultimately it comes from owners and management though. How many times in recent years have they prioritized profits over keeping together successful rosters? The culture of tanking and load management also comes from them, not from the players. On many occasions, including I strongly suspect the recent Mavericks farce, star players were told to sit, against how it would have gone had they had a say on the matter. The players no longer giving a damn themselves comes later.

Here is a big difference -- back in the days franchises were worth tens to low hundreds of millions, and were typically owned by a single rich person. Who of course didn't like to see them losing money, but still, often it was a plaything for him, or there was some sentimental attachment to the fortunes of the team. Today franchises are worth billions, and ownership is more often structured like that of your typical corporation -- many parties have partial stakes, and it is an investment for them before anything else, even for the majority owner. Then they also become run like the typical corporation -- the MBAs move in and start figuring out how to squeeze every last drop of revenue from the assets.

And MBA logic disregards completely the competitive logic of the sport. It says that if according to some statistical model load management will maximize the productivity of assets over time, then load management is what you should do. And that if tanking will maximize asset acquisition, again, that is what you should do. As long as revenues don't suffer. But tickets are bought well in advance and are not refunded, and the TV contract is also paid for in advance, so there is little hit in terms of revenue.

Hinkie was a Stanford MBA and worked for Bain Capital. Morey was an MBA from Sloan. Not a coincidence at all, and these are just the two most visible examples.


At Tuesday, April 11, 2023 8:29:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...


I would be hesitant to blame capitalism or "hypercapitalism" (I would be interested to see a definition of that word) without providing a reasoned description of a system that would function better. That is not to say that capitalism is perfect; it is not perfect--but no system is perfect.

Do you prefer socialism? How about feudalism? Maybe a barter economy?

I decline to wade into an in depth analysis of economic systems in the comments section of my NBA-focused website, other than to point out that at least one of the issues that you mentioned--guaranteed contracts reducing player motivation to play hard--is not rooted in capitalism; a purely capitalistic approach would involve compensating players based on productivity. A guaranteed base income is a socialistic concept, not a capitalistic concept.

Returning to a larger examination of the NBA's current flaws, I attribute the flaws to the thinking of individuals, not to capitalism. Teams could make just as much money--if not more--if the players took the game more seriously, and if the rules regarding traveling and flopping/flailing were enforced more consistently. The problem is that individual leaders have conducted a flawed analysis, and concluded that their behaviors will maximize profits.

In short, many of these problems are rooted not in seeking profits, but in flawed attempts to seek profits. Further, the NBA is slow to fix these problems because the league is still very profitable; it takes a lot of vision to understand that even if the league is profitable now it would be even more profitable by making the game more competitive and more focused on substance instead of style. There is also the problem that a lot of "socialism," for lack of a better word, is built into the NBA's economic model: teams share revenues, players and coaches have guaranteed contracts, etc. Frankly, the NBA product would be better if the league followed a more capitalistic system, but good luck rolling back the player empowerment that has happened over the past 50 years (not that I am suggesting that it should all be rolled back, but I would say that it is reasonable to suggest that the power has shifted too much from the owners to the players).

When I criticize the NBA for caring about profits I do not mean to suggest that there is something evil about seeking profits; my point is that it is hypocritical to tout slogans such as "The NBA Cares" when it is evident that the NBA, at best, "cares" about a very select number of issues.

At Tuesday, April 11, 2023 10:02:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are born and raised in the system, and completely brainwashed into thinking there is no alternative. It's understandable.

Anyway, the answer to your question about why the NBA isn't more "capitalistic", as in putting out a more competitive product that would attract more viewers, lies in picking apart the issue of how many corporations and financial institutions with very long histories have been ruined in the last few decades by the pursuit of short-term greed.

Why did that happen?

For two reasons -- first, because the short-term interests of the people running them were not in alignment with the long-term interests of the institution (grab the money and run because you are here today but gone tomorrow, and do what will result in short-term gains because that is what you are evaluated on on one hand, versus stability and not taking excessive risks on the other), and second, because the MBAs do in fact take seriously the idiotic garbage that they are brainwashed with in business school, and that results in one disaster after another.

And yes, money does ruin everything.

NBA players competed hard when they were paid a lot less, and the more they were getting paid, the less they played hard. Correlation not being the same as causation and all, that is still an objective fact.

I can also guarantee you that "load management" would have been an absurd idea to any athlete from the former USSR. Because all they had to compete for was their honor. They weren't thinking about their shoe deals and the dozen commercials they need to film this week.

P.S. All of this is another reason why Europeans are increasingly dominating the NBA. Clubs in Europe are not franchises, they will get eaten alive by the fans if they "load manage". They still do it by resting starters but only against weak opposition in the local leagues where they can win even with their bench and youth players, not in the Euroleague, and that makes it acceptable; meanwhile this year in the NBA even teams threatened with not securing the 6th seed were still "load managing" even in the last few games of the season. The objective in Europe is to win and because it is not the bloated NBA season every game matters. Importantly, that is true even for their youth teams. While in the US you have AAU, where the objective isn't to win, but to show off your individual talents so that you make it to the next level and eventually to the league, where the big money is. It wasn't always like that, as is well known. One system is naturally better at producing players who know how to win than the other, all else equal.

P.S. Basketball in Europe hasn't been ruined yet because there's little money in it. However, soccer, which is the real religion there, has been totally ruined by money, and that was precisely because it does not have the "socialistic" elements of the NBA. There are less than a dozen megarich clubs that completely dominate everything, take all the best players and win all the trophies, and their ranks have been constantly shrinking over the years, as it all gets further and further concentrated. And much of the continent, as well as the whole of South America, have been completely marginalized as a result, even though they were strongly competitive only a few decades ago.

At Tuesday, April 11, 2023 11:34:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...


If you have read with understanding anything that I have written on any topic then you realize that I am hardly "brainwashed" about anything.

Instead of calling me names, accept my challenge/answer my question: describe the parameters of an economic system that functions better than capitalism. Hint: socialism, feudalism, and the barter system have proven consistently to be inadequate, to put it mildly. Good luck answering my question successfully, but if you do then you will win the Nobel Prize for Economics.

I don't understand slogans like "money ruins everything." What does that even mean? How would a society function without money? Proper investment of money has led to medical and scientific advances.

The NBA's problem is not rooted in economics but in societal attitudes. Players feel entitled to money and recognition without putting in the work. If an attitude of entitlement is connected to any economic system that system would be left wing concepts/socialism--such as the government providing a safety net for everyone--more so than capitalism. A capitalistic NBA would insist that if you don't play then you don't get paid, and that winners get paid more than losers. The current NBA provides guaranteed money to teams, coaches, and players.

The larger issue is to address why American society has developed an attitude of entitlement.

"Load management" would have been inconceivable for basketball players in the former Soviet Union because losing players and teams would receive a one way ticket to Siberia (figuratively if not literally). If you think that socialism incentivizes hard work then I would be fascinated to hear your explanation for why the Soviet Union had a series of five year economic plans but proved to be progressively incapable of making functional consumer products.

The Soviet Union produced champion chess players and Olympic athletes, but at a tremendous overall cost to society and individual freedom.

At Wednesday, April 12, 2023 12:30:00 AM, Anonymous Kevin said...

I believe the rise of European players dominating has more to do with the decline of development in the states more than anything else, I believe defensive 3 seconds is still enforced in Euroleague and the Euroleague game is more similar to pre 2005 NBA than the modern NBA is which basically forces players to be more fundamentally sound. All you need in today's game is being able to shoot open 3s and get away with travels, Kobe mentioned shortly before his passing that having a diverse skillset was more needed back then and I agree based on what I've seen of older games when the paint was often clogged and the 3 ball was discouraged outside of last second / desperation attempts

Was not expecting a discourse on economics to come out of my post but I will add that all of my great grandfathers lost property from Enver Hoxha's regime and only one of them was able to get it back (posthumously). It did far more bad than good for my family

I don't think it's money that is the issue so much as it is the incentive that's been lost due to the massive guaranteed contracts today's players get. Even SGA (a well-rounded player that's earned his money) said after the all star game that money talks (in response to how to improve the farce that is the ASG) which is a bizarre statement given how much money NBA players get to begin with. The older I get the more I'm starting to side with owners

I'm not super familiar with how contracts in sports work but I imagine an easy fix would be to pay them per game so that they do think twice about load managing

Decided to check salaries for 2010-2011 season and Kobe was the only player making over 20 million that season (20 million in 2010 is 27.5 million today). Played all 82 games despite being injured essentially the entire season (at the expense of missing practices which he regretted doing). There's 46 players making at least the inflation adjusted amount today including the likes of Ben Simmons and Bradley Beal who both made at least 35 million...

At Wednesday, April 12, 2023 1:21:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...


I agree with your assessment of European basketball compared to NBA basketball.

Anyone who has family members who fled from--or did not survive--the depredations of socialism should have great appreciation and gratitude for the sanctuary provided by the United States. I am not sure where the previous commenter is from, but if he is from Europe firing pot shots at American capitalism I would say that it would be nice to remember that American capitalism saved Europe from tyrannical regimes not once but twice in the 20th century. America has its problems and flaws, but overall America has been a force for good in the world.

NBA contracts have to conform to the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). The players are unlikely to ever agree to being paid by the game instead of having guaranteed contracts.

At Wednesday, April 12, 2023 2:31:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

>Players feel entitled to money and recognition without putting in the work. If an attitude of entitlement is connected to any economic system that system would be left wing concepts/socialism--such as the government providing a safety net for everyone--more so than capitalism.

That is some appalling ignorance on display here.

That attitude is precisely rooted in current unregulated capitalism. What is the basis of capitalism? Making money on interest and investment. And as the years went on, "investment" stopped meaning "investment into means of production" and increasingly shifted towards pure financial speculation and casino games. This is the very definition of getting something without putting any work.

Look around the US economy at the moment -- profits are made primarily by setting up a monopoly toll booth somewhere in the economy, or by various Ponzi schemes and scams. Not by productive activity. Or worse, by actively hurting society (20% of the economy is health "care", that is an absolute scandal).

I wonder where the players may have gotten that mentality from...

The episode about Shaq getting in minor trouble for pushing crypto scams is emblematic.

>>"Load management" would have been inconceivable for basketball players in the former Soviet Union because losing players and teams would receive a one way ticket to Siberia (figuratively if not literally). If you think that socialism incentivizes hard work then I would be fascinated to hear your explanation for why the Soviet Union had a series of five year economic plans but proved to be progressively incapable of making functional consumer products.

Again, appalling ignorance. Who was sent to Siberia for not winning games? Give me an example -- name of the athlete(s) and years spent in Siberia. That may have happened in North Korea, never in the USSR.

And the USSR made perfectly functional consumer products, they weren't shiny, but they filled the needs. Important distinction here -- needs versus wants.

If your question is why they didn't have a consumerist society, the answer is that the rule of pick-two-out-of-three applies here too. The three being human capital, the military and consumerism. You can only invest in two of them, and the USSR invested in the first two. The US invested in the military and consumerism, and neglected human capital, which is why it is such a decaying mess now.

Besides, consumerism is bad for society, for the environment, and for humanity as a whole.

Why didn't the USSR churn out cars in the same quantities as the US? First, because it consciously didn't want to do it for a long time -- it had a very good public transportation network, and people were supposed to use that, not cars. Meanwhile most US cities still don't have anything that can be even called functional public transportation. Second, because with the resources needed to make one heavy armored vehicle you can make ~200 cars. And if you are producing 3,000 tanks plus another several thousand APCs, IFVs, SPGs, etc. every year, that means you are not producing a couple million cars. That's the trade off. How many cars did the US produce in the 1942-1945 period?

At Wednesday, April 12, 2023 4:10:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...


This will be my last response to you. You again failed to answer the direct question that I put to you, and you again insulted me.

You are mixing metaphors and making false comparisons. I agree with you that cryptocurrency and some of the financial shenanigans going on now are, in essence, Ponzi schemes, but that does not address the original subject matter, namely why the NBA is plagued by load management and tanking. I assert that guaranteed salaries are a big part of the problem. Guaranteed salaries are not part of a Ponzi scheme--the NBA's revenues really exist, and the league has collectively bargained with the players regarding how to distribute the revenues. That distribution method is socialistic in nature: all of the teams get an equal cut of revenue (even the tanking teams), teams that keep their payrolls low are given money by teams that exceed the salary cap, and players are paid even if they miss games. None of those issues are connected with the nonsense that you threw against the wall.

If you are not aware of the Soviet Union's mass deportations to Siberia, and the harsh punishments facing anyone who ran afoul of the regime, then I will not be able to educate you here in the comments section. I said that athletes who did not perform up to expectations would be exiled figuratively if not literally. Chess history is replete with the names of strong players who ran afoul of the Soviet authorities and were punished, if not actually killed. I should add that Soviet athletes could be punished not only for subpar performance but also for holding (or being alleged to hold) "wrong" views. Check out "The Lubyanka Gambit" and "Petr Izmailov: From Chess Champion of Russia to Enemy of the People" for more details.

It should also be noted that mass use of illegal performance enhancing drugs contributed significantly to Eastern Bloc Olympic dominance.

Your assertion that the Soviet Union invested in human capital is ludicrous and sickening. Read Solzhenitsyn's works for vivid descriptions of the nightmarish quality of life in the Soviet Union. Socialism has brought misery to millions of people in dozens of countries, from the Soviet Union to China to North Korea to Cambodia to Cuba, and more.

It is telling that you call America a "decaying mess." Perhaps you neglected to note that the Soviet Union collapsed 30 years ago, leaving in its wake a non-functional society now being led by a KGB-trained autocrat bent on restoring his version of past Russian "glory." If you think that mess is superior to America, then by all means please move there if you have not already done so.

If the Soviet Union was so great, why did it collapse?

Further, why are there countries that have to build walls--literally or figuratively--to keep people in, but the U.S. has to build walls--literally or figuratively--to keep people out?

In short, if America is so terrible why do so many people risk their lives to come here, fleeing many of the countries that you presumably think are not a "decaying mess"?

From 1942-45, America saved Europe for the second time in two decades--and America still made better cars than anything produced in the Eastern Bloc.

Please, stop visiting my website, stop polluting the comments section with your ignorance, and set aside some time--a lot of time--to educate yourself about socialism specifically and economics in general.


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