Cleveland Cavaliers coach says he’s been threatened by gamblers

Cavaliers coach says he’s been threatened by gamblers
from Sean Keane, with

The Cleveland Cavaliers have a sports book in their arena. But their coach thinks gambling has gone too far.

Tyrese Haliburton told reporters on Tuesday that sports betting made him feel like a “prop.” But when reporters asked Cavs coach J.B. Bickerstaff about it, he made a surprising revelation about how gamblers had directly threatened him.

“They got my telephone number and were sending me crazy messages about where I live and my kids and all that stuff,” Bickerstaff told reporters Wednesday, before the Cavaliers played the Miami Heat. “So it is a dangerous game and a fine line that we’re walking for sure.”

Bickerstaff told team security and they located the fan, but he wasn’t charged.

While everyone in the NBA understands how much money they’re getting from gambling, Bickerstaff sounded concerned about the tertiary factors involved. Cleveland has a sports book in its arena, just like the Washington Wizards and Phoenix Suns. Fans can bet on their phones during games. The result is that fans often have a strong rooting interest that’s not connected to winning or losing.

“The amount of times where 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 that we can cover the spread, it’s ridiculous,” Bickerstaff said. “It is something that I believe has gone too far.”

There’s long been concerns about gambling and organized crime with the NBA. Former referee Tim Donaghy claimed the mafia threatened his family. But it might be scarier when every fan is a potential disgruntled gambler.

“A lot of times the people who are gambling like this money pays their light bill or pay their rent, and then the emotions that come from that,” Bickerstaff said. “So I do think we’re walking a very fine line and we have to be extremely careful in protecting everybody who’s involved.”