Scandals are unfortunately as common in basketball as they are in other sports and from the college level to the heights of the NBA stars can be sullied by stupidity.
One of the interesting dualities in modern day sport is the doubled edged sword that is media attention. It both drives public interest and therefore revenues, but can also highlight the less savory parts of a game attempting to keep its image wholesome. The staid world of cricket has been beset with match fixing accusations, soccer has had its fair share of corruption and you only have to think of cycling to know that no one rides around France in two weeks unless they’re on drugs.
Basketball has not and is not immune to these scandals and public relations nightmares. It’s a big money sport with the highest paid athletes in the world most of who are young men with all the usual issues and problems that go along with youth and inexperience. Both college basketball and the NBA have been rocked by scandals almost since their inception, and the shadow of these still cast a gloom over the glittering world court-side.
Whilst perhaps only international soccer can boast the sort of silliness that comprises Luis Suarez’s attempted cannibalism during the recent World Cup in Brazil, the college basketball and NBA has still managed to amass a range of shockers that take in the entire spectrum of sex, drugs and violence. American gambling laws might keep punters on the straight and narrow but at times they could be forgiven who is doing the same for the players and coaches.
Perhaps the largest of these is the blandest. A simple point shaving exercise back in the 1950s that pretty much signaled the end for the then popular National Invitational Tournament, but it is the one that had the greatest knock on effect with the New York based scandal almost tainting the city for the next sixty years. It might be old gambling news, but to those who wagered on fixed games you never forget and rarely forgive.
Academic Cheating And Point Shaving
Scandals In Basketball’s Court
• Bad boys in the gambling news
• Sex, drugs, violence and point shaving
• Intolerance and stupidity
The college basketball world might not have the money floating around that the NBA attracts but it’s still one of the most popular sports to bet on in the US, and with sites like Bet365 that now extends across the world, but it hasn’t escaped from garnering headline grabbing scandals that have voided results and damaged the reputations of some of the biggest names in the academic landscape. These fall vaguely into two categories.
Point shaving, a way of fixing the spread bet results, wasn’t a problem that went away in the 1950s despite the resultant tribulation. Since then Tulane, Boston College and Northwestern have all been caught out in various ways for being involved in what is perhaps the worst form of cheating. It doesn’t just make a mockery of the sport but also taints the world of sports gambling that does so much to stay squeaky clean.
The other major problem is academic fraud of various types. You might be six nine and play ball like you were born to it but you still have to gain the necessary academic record to compete at college level and sometimes those two don’t coincide. Georgia and Minnesota have both had issues with team members not doing their own college work or having other sit tests for them, and Derrick Rose had someone else sit his SATs so he could play.
Beyond these two sorts of scandal those who bet on sports in the US know only too well that these young men are, if very talented, valuable commodities that teams will do much to attract and there’s been much said about “boosters” or gifts of cash to college players that might sway their choices later in their careers. Chris Webber might have been able to claim the money he received was merely a loan it didn’t stop it being a scandal that ate into Michigan’s reputation.
The Professionals Do It Bigger
The NBA contains the best paid atheletes in the world, attracts a world wide audience and games regularly garner well in excess of $50m in win wagers and prop bets. It is a glittering stage of personalities and it isn’t surprising that some of these have got themselves and the sport as a whole into a fair deal of trouble. From Wizards players drawing guns on each other in the dressing room to full scale brawling on the court between the Pacers and Pistons the NBA has it all.
Now every sport has bad boys, but only the NBA has Charles Barkley, Dennis Rodman, Allen Iverson, Carmelo Anthony and Jayson Williams. Fighting in public? DUI? Assault? Drugs and weapon’s charges? Check, check, check. Starting to make some guy from Uruguay biting an opponent look tame already, isn’t it? Now these colourful characters aside the sport has still wrestled with corruption.
The 2006 NBA Finals are often glanced at askance as Wade’s 18.3 free throw average in the final four games seems just a little too fortunate for any one player at such a crucial time in the season. Of course it had nothing at all to do with the owner of the opposition having been such a vocal critic of referees that season, oh no, nothing at all. Tim Donaghy the referee that served 15 months in jail for his gambling and fixing of games pretty much confirmed this later on.
Recent scandals have included less glamourous misadventures. Latrell Sprewell strangling his players during training, Tim Hardaway and his homophobia, and Donald Sterling for the most outrageous piece of racism ever recorded (he got banned for life) all contributed to an atmosphere of rising uncertainty. Whilst no one expects young men getting paid massive amounts of money to be angels, the NBA doesn’t need any more demons that it already possesses.