ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski Blames Unruly Fans’ Rash On Sports Gambling

Adrian Wojnarowski.

Adrian Wojnarowski.
ScreenshotESPN

The NBA hasn’t had a real (or uncovered) gambling scandal since game booking became legal in more than select locations. Unless you count Scott Foster’s streak of retaining playoff teams in service Chris Paul — which is currently at 14 games after the Suns loss to New Orleans in Game 2 on Tuesday night – as controversy there has not been an overt case like in the NFL when Calvin Ridley was caught throwing the Falcons in some parlays while sitting at home for most of the season.

ESPN’s Cue Adrian Wojnarowski, Who Blamed horrific, retaliatory behavior from Boston fans towards Kyrie Irving not on Kyrie’s controversial history with the franchise or the history of Celtics fans with black players, but rather the proliferation of legalized gambling.

I’m not a pro gambler. I bet on sports not because I don’t have the money, but also because I get my interests the old-fashioned way, through long-standing yet changing prejudices. But in defense of the many degenerates I know, they were gambling long before it was regulated.

The man who gets drunk and yells out an obscenity or two at Bogdan Bogdanović for not having more than 19 points, thereby sinking his draw parlay, would get drunk and tell a player to go fuck himself anyway. Bastards are bastards, and the world isn’t suddenly overrun by an influx of them, it’s just easier to see them on camera as bastards than in the past.

Irving cutting fans off isn’t new. Then-Bronco QB Jake Plummer gave the fans of his own team the bird in 2004† (Colorado sports enthusiasts are restrained ruthless. Ze booed Paxton Lynch to simply enter a preseason game, and the whole Buffs student section has been kicked out of football games often for throwing rubble onto the field.) And long ago there was Jack McDowell who, in 1994, gave Yankee fans the finger to handcuff him as he walked off the mound, earning him the nickname, The Yankee Flipper

I understand where Woj came from because it’s a player’s perspective, the only point of view he appreciates, because that way he can have the relationships with players that he has. It is brave to tackle the competition, his employer and their business partners, even though it is easier to do if you job guarantee that comes with signing a five-year, $7 million-a-year deal with ESPN.

There are many people who agree and disagree with the insiders’ opinion, and of course the anti-gambling public lied to it. When I wrote an article sports leagues warn of the risks of doing business with gambling sitesI was thinking more along the lines of Ridley or the disgraced referee Tim Donaghy. Not some Southie guys, genetically predisposed to get mad, get mad about a mistake in the second half of an overs bet.

The shops that have reprimanded Woj and called him a “dummy” for failing to take into account that sports betting is not yet legal in Massachusetts should also calm down. As mentioned before, just because it’s illegal doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. Think the guy listed as “Tony P” in your phone isn’t going to text in, Vegas set, in-game bet because it’s not legal in the Masshole State? Pencil in your $20 bet is like #5 on the list of illegal shit he’s done in the last 24 hours, and it’s probably the least damaging of them all.

Could comments and intimidation from the stands contain more vitriol because money is at stake?† Absolute. That said, the line for what’s acceptable is being crossed by all sorts of fans, and how far it’s crossed is only as important as people’s outrage says it should.

Be it racist fans, drunken fans or ‘morally corrupt’ gambling addicts, it’s not the point. They are all to varying degrees assholes who should be banned from games if the line is crossed. To improve the fan experience, fans as a whole need to be improved, and I don’t think curbing social decay is Adam Silver’s responsibility. (Making a profit for the competition does, however.)

The logic that the NBA is responsible for abhorrent fan behavior for letting the sinners into the chapel doesn’t work if there were already outcasts among the clergy.

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