NBA coach says he was threatened by gamblers, says sports betting 'brings a distraction to the game'


Tyrese Haliburton is not the only NBA player who has been negatively affected by gambling.

The Indiana Pacers star said on Tuesday that his social media mentions are flooded with those who lost a bet because of him.

Cleveland Cavaliers coach J.B. Bickerstaff said he actually had to get authorities involved after he received threats from gamblers.

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Cleveland Cavaliers head coach J.B. Bickerstaff yells instructions to players in the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Houston Rockets on Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2021, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

“They got my telephone number and were sending me crazy messages about where I live and my kids and all that stuff,” Bickerstaff said on Wednesday.

The coach also said that the increase in gambling has created a separate rooting interest, leading to “added pressure.”

“It brings a distraction to the game that can be difficult for players, coaches, referees, everybody that’s involved in it,” he said. “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. Because again, it does carry a weight. 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. So I do think we’re walking a very fine line, and we have to be extremely careful in protecting everybody who’s involved.”

JB Bickerstaff

Head coach J.B. Bickerstaff and the Cleveland Cavaliers bench have words with crew chief Brian Forte after a foul was called against the team during the second half of their game against the Charlotte Hornets at Spectrum Center on Feb. 4, 2022 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

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Haliburton joked that he “[doesn’t] give a f—” about those who lose sizable wagers because of him. However, Bickerstaff says that with 37 states legalizing some form of sports gambling since 2018, “it’s crossed the line.”

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

Donovan Mitchell is introduced as a member of the Cavaliers

Cleveland Cavaliers president of basketball operations Koby Altman, Donovan Mitchell, center, and head coach J. B. Bickerstaff, right, pose for a photo during a press conference where Mitchell was introduced at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse on Sept. 14, 2022 in Cleveland. (Nick Cammett/Getty Images)

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North Carolina legalized sports wagering last week.

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