>Friday Lunch: The House Never Wins: Gambling & The NBA

Posted: January 7, 2011 in gambling, nba
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

>By Brent MacDonald

With all the dog fights, alleged rapes and ‘sexts’ going on in sports today, it’s no surprise that another problem has risen to round out the list.

            Gambling has proven to have more of a negative impact on the NBA than any other professional sport. Let’s take a look at a quick timeline of gambling incidents in the NBA, before moving on to more recent events…  


1992- Michael Jordan goes to court to explain why James Bouler, a convicted drug dealer, has a check endorsed by His Airness for $57,000. Under oath, Jordan told the court that the money was payment for gambling losses from a single weekend. 

1993- Jordan is investigated by the NBA office to see if his gambling habit had broken any league rules.
1993- During the same year, Jordan retires from professional basketball. There is suspicion that Jordan was ‘secretly suspended’ for illegal gambling, under the guise of playing baseball, in order to preserve his legacy without breaking the hearts of millions of fans.
2002- The Sacramento Kings lose its playoff battle against the Los Angeles Lakers. Referee Tim Donaghy was working during the series. (See ‘2008’) Thank me later, Sac Town.
2007- Gilbert Arenas bets DeShawn Stevenson during a Washington Wizards practice that he can make more one-handed college three’s than Stevenson could make two-handed NBA 3’s. The wager? $20,000. That’s a year’s worth of college tuition. A new car. You could buy 500 buckets of MuscleMilk with that kind of money.

Of course, it’s their cash to do with what they please, that’s not the problem. The problem surfaces after one player (in this case, Stevenson) loses the bet, gets frustrated, walks away without speaking and possibly breaks the bond between himself and a teammate.
2008- Referee Tim Donaghy sentenced to 15 months in prison for fixing NBA games. Donaghy admitted to gambling on games in which he had a direct effect on the outcome, including games during the Kings-Lakers series. Thank me now, Sac Town.
image2010- Seems like Gilbert Arenas gambles more than Franky Four-Fingers. This time, the aftermath was quite different. A gambling debt dispute between Arenas and Javaris Crittenton led to a locker room showdown in which Arenas allegedly pulled a pistol from his personal locker. He was charged with felony gun possession and received a suspension from the NBA.

2011- OJ Mayo and Tony Allen of the Memphis Grizzlies are forced apart by teammates during an altercation involving a gambling debt. The Grizzlies took the best action possible by banning any and all gambling related activities during team flights.

Whether professional athletes like it or not, they are viewed by many as heroes. Legends. And yes, Charles, role modelsBeing looked up to comes with the territory of being a professional athlete. This is especially true for NBA players, who have no helmets or hats covering their faces, which provides a closer and more personal relationship with the audience.
What these athletes do with their money is up to them, yet they must be willing to control their actions in order to avoid the bad publicity that often follows for both the individual, and the league.

David Stern has taken notice to the changing image of the NBA, and has been attempting to implement various rules over the past few years in order to adjust.
The one-year out rule? Stern wants NBA players to get an education before entering the league. This will dilute the number of uneducated kids who jump straight from high school without knowing which state the team they got drafted to plays its home games.
The no street clothes rule? Professionals should look professional, nothing wrong with that. But I believe Stern’s motives lay more along the lines of not wanting players on the bench to portray a ghetto, inner city vibe. That would scare away all the nice white people.
Regardless, Stern once again put in a rule aiming toward player’s personal lives. Now it’s time for a different rule.
Hopefully Stern and the league office will take notice of the Grizzlies’ response to gambling issues, and will follow suit. Gambling within the NBA needs to be controlled. If players are willing to gamble a single mother’s salary all at once, they need to be able to control their actions when they lose.


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