Sports betting has “gone too far” according to Cavaliers coach Bickerstaff

Cleveland, OH
Image: Shutterstock

The line between basketball and betting has never been closer according to Cleveland Cavaliers coach J.B. Bickerstaff.

Speaking to FOX Sports, he revealed that he and his family received threats from gamblers last season and he now believes that sports betting has “gone too far.”

“They got my telephone number and were sending me crazy messages about where I live and my kids and all that stuff, so it is a dangerous game and a fine line that we’re walking for sure,” said Bickerstaff.

Bickerstaff, in his fourth year as the Cavaliers coach, spoke about how the rise of sports gambling in the U.S. has made his job more challenging.

“It brings a distraction to the game that can be difficult for players, coaches, referees, everybody that’s involved in it. And I think that 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. A lot of times the people who are gambling like this money pay their light bill or pay their rent, and then the emotions that come from that. 

“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. But again, I understand the business side of it and the nature of the business. But I mean, it is something that I believe has gone too far,” he added.

Current NBA stars Tyrese Haliburton and Rudy Gobert have also spoken out about the influence of betting on the sport.

Haliburton in a recent interview described how he felt like a “prop” for people to make money from sports betting. Meanwhile, Gobert was fined $100,000 for making a money sign at referee Scott Foster during the Minnesota Timberwolves’ 113-104 overtime loss to the Cavaliers.

“I’ll bite the bullet again,” Gobert said. “I’ll be the bad guy. I’ll take the fine, but I think it’s [betting] is hurting our game. I know the betting and all that is becoming bigger and bigger, but it shouldn’t feel that way.”

Sports bettors in Cleveland run the risk of being banned from participating in gambling if they get found to be harassing athletes or coaches.

Last year’s Ohio state budget included language that allows regulators to exclude anyone who threatens violence or harm against sports participants, including athletes, referees, coaches, owners and governing body officials, from using the state’s legal betting market.

The legislation was put in place to protect athletes following threats that were made against the men’s basketball program at the University of Dayton.

A similar bill was also passed this year in West Virginia which allows the state commission to exclude individuals who were shown to have harassed sports participants.