According to ESPN News former Cavaliers coach John Lucas is accusing the Cavaliers of tanking the 2002-2003 season in order to get Lebron James. The Cavs finished that season with a record of 17-65, won the draft lottery, and ultimately drafted the league’s biggest superstar with the first pick in the draft. Lucas had to say this about the 2002-2003 season in which he got fired half way through:
“They trade all our guys away and we go real young, and the goal was to get LeBron and also to sell the team,” Lucas told AOL FanHouse. “I didn’t have a chance. … You can’t fault the Cavaliers for wanting to get LeBron. It was hard to get free agents to come there.”
Gordan Gund, the Cavaliers principal owner at the time denies all claimsthat this ever happened. Some people claim that Gund himself did this because he had future plans to sell the team, and with a big money player like Lebron coming in it would seem more attractive to buyers. Here’s what Gund had to say about the whole deal:
“You don’t try to get the No. 1 pick”. “That’s why the lottery was designed. To not allow that. We had a young team that we were developing. … We did not tank the season. … To lose to get LeBron James, we would never do that. I wouldn’t do that. I couldn’t do that.
“In the very last game of the season, we had nothing to gain and we were in sole possession of last place [in the NBA]. But we beat [the Toronto Raptors] and that left us tied with Denver [at 17-65]. … The chances of getting the first pick were only [22.5 percent].”
It is hard to believe this claim when the Cavs went out and won their last game that season over Toronto. If they were really tanking it you would believe that they would have lost that game and upped their chances in the lottery. Instead they had the same chances as Denver, but ultimately drafted Lebron James, while Denver picked up Carmelo Anthony.
Believe it or not, this is something you have to look at closely. We always here about people saying teams SHOULD tank it, but we’ve never really heard a story about a team REALLY tanking it. It will be interesting to see if more comes out on this story, after all I’m sure Lebron will have something to say about it.