Thirteen and the NBA Draft and so-called "Fair Competition"

Have you ever played a game where the winner of the last hand gets to go first in the next hand? I always thought that was a pretty stupid system. Going first (often) is an advantage, and the winner doesn't need the advantage. The winner already won.

Whenever I teach friends to play the card game 13 (a.k.a. - Deuces), I always leave that rule out. The way I play it, the player with the lowest card goes first. Because drawing the lowest card sucks and that disadvantage is mitigated by being able to offload it as soon as possible.


I started watching professional basketball this year. Last year, I didn't know the Bay Area had a team until the Warriors were in the playoffs; this year, I watched most regular season games and missed only two post season games. (Also, I learned the difference between "regular" and "post season", so... basically I'm an expert now).

After the finals I became interested in the draft system. It's a solution to a problem similar to the one I noticed in the card games.

Here's the problem, as far as I understand it - Winning teams make more money. Teams with more money can buy the better players, so the winning team should just keep winning forever. But if the winning team keeps winning forever, then both the winning and losing teams suffer because nobody wants to watch non-competitive matches over and over.

Everyone loses win the winner keeps winning. And so: the draft. Salary caps and lottery picks and every team has the same budget for player payroll?!? Holy crap. Why didn't anyone tell me the NBA is socialist?


I think we can understand our current system of American capitalism as the antithesis of the ideal NBA draft process. It started off as a fair contest (if you were white, male, not Irish, etc...) And a few merited winners emerged early on. But the seasons continued and there was never a draft to equalize resources in the competition. These initial few winners continue to have first pick for every subsequent contest(/generation), stack advantage on advantage, and claim a meritocratic victory when they come out ahead. 

And now we find ourselves in a system where the "Walton family, for example, has more wealth than 42% of American families combined." That's 136.7 million American families having less wealth than 1 American family. 

We can't call this victory. We can't call this fair competition. It's time for a draft!


Much Love,


P.S. - Yay! Tiny Letters are out of retirement! I promise a subsequent one where I tell a bit more about what I've been doing for the last 8 months. Besides fomenting revolution.

P.P.S. - Many thanks to my guest editor, D.J. Bland. He says I need to explain what the draft I'm proposing looks like, but I've got some upholstery work to get to, so it will have to wait. (Also, real talk, I have no idea.)