Cleveland Cavaliers Coach J.B. Bickerstaff
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Cavaliers coach J.B. Bickerstaff discloses he faced threats from sports bettors

Published March 21, 2024 at 8:07 PM

Sports betting has garnered significant attention recently, prompting Cleveland Cavaliers coach J.B. Bickerstaff to weigh in on the discussion. Speaking during pregame media availability before the Cavaliers faced the Heat on Wednesday night, Bickerstaff shared his personal encounters with sports betting and expressed his belief that it has escalated beyond acceptable limits.

"There's no doubt about it that it's crossed the line," Bickerstaff said. "The amount of times I'm standing up there and we may have a 10-point lead and the spread is 11 and people are yelling at me to leave the guys in so we can cover the spread, it's ridiculous. But again, I understand the business side of it, the nature of the business of it, but it is something that I believe has gone too far.[...] I personally have had my own instances with some of the sports gamblers, where they got my telephone number, were sending me crazy messages about where I live, and my kids and all that stuff, [...] Bickerstaff said. Then he continued: So it is a dangerous game and a fine line that we're walking for sure. It brings added pressure, a distraction to the game that can be difficult for players, coaches, referees, and everybody that's involved in it. I think we really have to be careful with how close we let it get to the game and the security of the people who are involved in it because it does carry weight. A lot of times, people who are gambling, this money pays their light bill or pays their rent, and then the emotions that come from that. So I do think we're walking a very fine line, and we have to be extremely careful in protecting everybody who's involved."

Bickerstaff's remarks follow comments made by Pacers guard Tyrese Haliburton earlier this week. Haliburton addressed a query about consulting with a sports psychologist, highlighting the prevalent focus on how much money he can generate for individuals through sports betting.

"Not everybody cares to hear how we feel. To half the world, I'm just helping them make money on DraftKings or whatever," Haliburton said. "I'm a prop. That's what my social media mostly consists of."

Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra recounted a particular episode involving a sports bettor that occurred last year during a game. Someone had to be escorted out due to their extreme frustration over Victor Oladipo's decision not to attempt an open 3-pointer at the end of the game.

"I do think it's somewhat contradictory," Spoelstra said Wednesday night. "I think it treads on a weird line. We had an incident behind our bench last year with [Victor] Oladipo. Somebody was screaming. Security had to take him away. The game was already over, and evidently, he didn't shoot an open 3-pointer at the end of the game. The game was already decided, and this fan was totally beside himself, and he was a gambler. He had money on whatever the score was. There's just a lot of unintended consequences with that from a security standpoint that I'm not sure everybody totally understood."

Legalizing sports betting has surged across numerous states in recent years, with its legality extending to 38 states, along with Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C. As reported by USA Today in September 2023, four NBA teams have incorporated sportsbooks within their arenas, allowing fans to place bets while attending games, thereby introducing a fresh revenue stream for the teams and venues.

Moreover, aside from the sportsbooks situated within arenas, there have been persistent rumors about the NBA's interest in establishing a franchise in Las Vegas, widely recognized as the hub of gambling. This potential move would undoubtedly amplify discussions surrounding the topic. However, despite the growing acceptance of sports gambling, it appears that coaches and players in the league harbor some reservations about its integration into the NBA.

Source : CBS Sports
March 21   |   14 answers
Cavaliers coach J.B. Bickerstaff discloses he faced threats from sports bettors

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