>By Brent MacDonald
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.
2010- 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 models. Being 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.