Pistons and Spurs: Catalysts and Challenges in 2nd NBA Tourney

If you ask Santa for anything this Christmas, ask for the Tanking Super Bowl. The Detroit Pistons, losers of 20 in a row, and the San Antonio Spurs, losers of 17 straight, play each other Jan. 10. That’s a little under a month away, and if both teams continue this dismal form, Detroit and San Antonio’s runs of destitution would be at 34 and 30, respectively.

Both would break the NBA record of 26-straight losses held by the 2010-11 Cavaliers and the 2013-14 76ers. That’s a tour de force of banality, a nightmare prize fight, a who’s who of poo-poo, and I couldn’t be more excited to see which team can snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

The Pistons and Spurs are in the bottom third of the league in points scored and allowed despite each boasting a former No. 1 overall pick. Victor Wembanyama is in the AAU stage of his NBA career, aka solid but inefficient stats on a team bereft of accountability. Don’t tell Gregg Popovich I said that, but it’s true. The byproduct of tanking is it normalizes losing, and clearly the Spurs have a roster full of players unmoved by public shame.

For Cade Cunningham and the Pistons, the list of issues is daunting. Two weeks ago, the Detroit Free Press wrote a piece titled, “Accountability. Effort. Detroit Pistons’ list of problems growing along with losing streak.” I cannot wait for the follow-up — ”Self-loathing. Career change. Pistons’ streak prompts existential crisis.”

Detroit’s past two head coaching hires — Monty Williams and Dwane Casey — won Coach of the Year honors at their previous stops (before being fired), yet this franchise would have you believe they couldn’t lead third graders. The historic losing streaks by the Spurs and Pistons are both club records, and I’ll admit that it’s my current favorite storyline in the NBA.

In fact, this should serve as inspiration for Adam Silver, who’s been trying to rid the Association of tanking and boost regular-season viewership for years.

Instead of two groups of four teams that could meet in the playoffs, pit the bottom four to eight teams against each other for the entire month of April. How would that work logistically? I have no idea, but it would add intrigue to the race for lottery balls and force these embarrassments to actually win some games.

While my proposal might be a bit drastic, and definitely unrealistic, I think a losers’ bracket of some kind in April would spark morbid curiosity. If the current In-Season Tournament is supposed to double as exposure for the odd franchise that otherwise wouldn’t be talked about, let’s demand fans to talk about organizations they’ve actively been ignoring since January.

Life is about balance and those mushy peas off to the side of your plate must be acknowledged. Eat your veggies, NBA Twitter. Here come the Wizards, Blazers, Spurs and Pistons to . . . sustain you? Remind you that bad basketball still exists?

Paint the courts a resplendent hue of puke, have the PA play fart noises after misses, hand out a trophy shaped like a dumpster and require organizations to raise that banner. Really ramp up the comedic value and make it a pox just to be selected for the End-Season Tournament.

The Pistons-Spurs Super Bowl of Tanking on Jan. 10 could serve as a soft launch for this idea. Flex it to TNT and have the Inside the NBA crew stage an intervention for the contest’s loser. Like spring break bathroom sex, really bathe in the depravity of it all.