The NBA's lottery puts their sport's draft above other sports in my book. The worst team is never guaranteed the top pick.
Otherwise, it really goes against the grain of the us-versus-the-world mentality. Coaches always tell their players that nobody's going to bail them out and that it's up to them to win the game … and then the league gift-wraps them the top incoming rookie in the offseason. At least with the NBA's lottery, the team with the worst record only has a 25 percent chance of the No. 1 overall selection. So much for tanking the final few games.
And, sure enough, the woeful 12-70 Nets' 1 in 4 odds bit them in the balls as they fell to No. 3 overall, while the 24-56 Washington Wizards instead won the John Wall Sweepstakes, destroying the hope of that loyal Nets fan.
It might be wise for the NFL, NHL, MLB, and other leagues with super-exciting draft rituals to not hand a golden jetpack to their most notable cellar-dweller. For one, we have to update our clichéd jokes more often. So much for those "someone's grandma threw out the first pitch at the Nationals, then was signed to a 3-year deal" jokes, especially when Stephen Strasburg gets the callup this summer.
In that same light, the worst the Nets were guaranteed was the No. 4 pick — still a very cozy spot from where to select an incoming dude. Eventually the team will get better, unless the front office has the collective basketball acumen of a Bryn Mawr undergrad.
So here's a new proposal to incentivize a better-than-last finish, and I'll fully credit Glendon Swarthout with the idea. Whoever has the worst record in any league automatically changes their team nickname to the Bedwetters. Instead of their proud emblem at center court, midfield, behind home plate, or center ice, the league changes it to a bedpan. Get out of last place next season, and you're back to normal.
I suppose instead of Bedwetters, a third-grade derivative of the mascot can also be appropriate. The New Jersey Nots. The Washington Urinals. The St. Louis Ma'ams. The Edmonton Oilspills. There is no "giant box" to clean up your mess. Go out there next year and give 'em hell, men.