2005-06 Minnesota Timberwolves
The most spectacular tank job in recent memory occurred on April 19, 2006, in a Minnesota-Memphis game that is still a common punch line around the league.
Earlier that month, Chicago Tribune NBA writer Sam Smith had called out the Timberwolves and the league:
The NBA should take a look at this one in the interest of the game's integrity and paying customers. Minnesota needs to have one of the top 10 poorest records to keep its draft pick. Otherwise, it goes to the Clippers from the Sam Cassell-Marko Jaric deal.
In a 103-95 loss to the Jazz at home on Friday, Garnett sat out the fourth quarter after making all of his third-quarter shots. Garnett had 13 rebounds through three quarters, and Minnesota was outrebounded 18-6 in the fourth.
It's reminiscent of the game-throwing days before the draft lottery was started.
In the final game of the season, the Wolves sat Garnett and Ricky Davis, and then turned the game against Memphis into a joke by inserting Mark Madsen and letting him fire away. In six seasons, Madsen had made only one 3-pointer in nine attempts. But in that game he tossed up seven 3-pointers and missed them all -- they were his only 3-point attempts of the season. The Wolves lost the game in double overtime (Madsen started the second overtime with three 3-point bricks in less than a minute) and secured the draft pick.
After the game, Wolves coach Dwane Casey didnít deny that the team was less than serious about winning the game: "The guys were having fun with it. For what we've been through this season, I thought the guys deserved it. I hope what we did didn't make a mockery of the game."
Was it a victimless crime? By securing a top-10 draft position, the Timberwolves prevented the Clippers from receiving the draft pick that became 2007 Rookie of the Year Brandon Roy (a future three-time All-Star whom the Wolves traded to Portland on draft night). And the Memphis win put the unfortunate Grizzlies (who also might have been motivated to lose the game) into a more difficult playoff bracket -- the Grizzlies started the postseason on the road and were swept by Dallas in the first round rather than having home-court advantage over a struggling Denver Nuggets team (which lost its first-round series to the Clippers).
On the flip side, the draft pick that did not go to the Clippers in 2006 eventually became the pick that allowed L.A. to acquire Chris Paul from New Orleans in 2011 -- and the Timberwolves will not get to use their own lottery pick this season, in part because of that infamous night in 2006.