Another year, another tank job for the Lakers

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The Lakers beat the Phoenix Suns last night, 122-110. It was a long time coming. Before that, the Purple & Gold had not won a game for a month.

Believe it or not, that dismal streak could actually be good news for a franchise suffering through its fourth losing season in a row.

Sure, all the losing is a drag for the players, who are presumably giving it their all when they step onto the court. And it’s not very pretty to watch. But losing is apparently what management wants – and it could turn out to be the best thing for fans hoping for a quick end to the team’s run of futility.

The Lakers are trying to hold on to their top draft pick. And to do that, they need to be bad, losing as many games as possible for the rest of the season. The worse their record the better chance the Lakers have of keeping their pick and getting the best possible player from the college ranks or overseas.

The semi-intentional losing is called tanking. And though few will admit it, tanking has become an accepted strategy in professional sports, especially the NBA. Just ask the once-proud Lakers, who are in the tank for the third season in a row.

L.A. Times sports columnist Bill Plaschke tells KCRW how this backward state of affairs came to be.