Kings

One important feature that absolutely needs to be written into new gambling laws

One important feature that absolutely needs to be written into new gambling laws

The globe is littered meters deep with the debris from the unintended consequences of useful deeds, and so it shall be with legalized gambling.

Some things can be foreseen, like a likely rise in the number of gambleholics and the need to treat them. That is a public health issue, and our record on public health has been waning for some time now as we sadly transition to a “hey, you asked for it so don’t bother me” society.

But there is one that has not been raised in the euphoria of the Supreme Court ruling in Murphy v. NCAA, the lawsuit that ended for the moment the ban on legalized sports wagering in every state but Nevada, and unearths quite a different ethical and, weirdly, public relations concern.

Tanking, and the benefits thereof.

While there are those who have mentioned the benefit to the leagues of increased tip-to-buzzer interest in otherwise unappealing games – say, Sacramento Kings-Memphis Grizzlies – it has not been pointed out that there might be the possibility that both teams in that scenario might well be trying to lose the game at the mandate of their employer.

In other words, in a new world order where losing can be winning (see Hinkie, Sam, and Process, The), out-and-out game fixing can be considered shrewd business. After all, if it’s legal to try and lose and legal to bet on a team that wants to lose, what would prevent an owner or general manager who is already trying to manipulate results for an improved draft position to make some money on the side?

Based on the law, nothing.

There are rules in place in each league that prohibit employees (players, front office types, etc.) from gambling on games, of course, but employers? Employers tend to do what they please when they please because there is nobody save the Securities and Exchange Commission to stop them. As a hypothetical, if Mark Cuban, who is chosen here because he has openly spoken of his Dallas Mavericks tanking for the long-term good of his franchise, can seize upon purposeful losing as a wise business strategy despite its ethical shortcomings, legalized gambling allows him to profit more directly from losing on purpose, and with legalized gambling, it's all good in the neighborhood.

And who in the NBA can tell him that that is wrong? Certainly not Adam Silver, who works for Cuban in his capacity as a salaried employee. Certainly not his fellow owners, who might want to choose the same strategy if they have not already done so, and in any event are loath to tell their partner/competitors how to run their businesses.

In other words, one of the features of any new gambling law or laws would almost have to include a codicil that prevents performers and their employers from the legal act of wagering, and there would have to be ways to police that effectively.

Good luck with that last one.

Otherwise, we will have a sports landscape in which the Arnold Rothsteins will be inside the games themselves, and the veneer of trust that binds sports to its fans will become just another cynical joke.

This is by no means inevitable, of course; self-preservation based on wisdom may be underused as a tactic but it can be employed.

But the devil in all social legislation is in the details. We have focused on the number of ways in which the gambling pie will be divided up, all of them leading directly to the consumer, but we have ignored the more basic one that allows teams to profit from failure in the most tangible way of all – by manipulating results for direct profit.

If the lawmakers do not comprehend that in their drafting of bills, and if the sports owners do not understand the danger they invite if they do not honor a pledge never to wager on any teams in their sport, the games they sell can be perceived as nothing more than rolling scams, and scams have a short shelf life.

In the haste to get on the gambling gravy train, we all run the risk of watching our most lucrative form of entertainment eat itself by its entrepreneurs not being content with making their gambling money the old-fashioned way – by entering into deals with the bookmakers and letting other people be the suckers.

19-year-old Luka Doncic wants a date with a Friend and...a tiger?

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AP

19-year-old Luka Doncic wants a date with a Friend and...a tiger?

In Europe, Luka Doncic is a star. It appears he would like to be one in the United States as well.

Fresh off a EuroLeague championship, as well as league and Finals MVP honors, the 19-year-old Slovenian-born wing showed a different side of himself in a video made by the folks over at Bleacher Report.

In an interview with Howard Beck, Doncic made a few of his wishes known, including his want for a signature shoe, a date with Jennifer Aniston and the future purchase of...a tiger?

"I just like tigers. I said if I go to U.S., I will buy a tiger—like Mike Tyson," Doncic told Beck.

Sacramento has Doncic on a short list of prospects they are considering with the second overall selection. He has high aspirations, both on and off the court.

It’s hard not to like the confidence and moxie of this prospect. Will he be a King come Thursday evening?

NBA Draft Prospect Profile: Marvin Bagley III

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USATSI

NBA Draft Prospect Profile: Marvin Bagley III

Marvin Bagley III - Power Forward - Duke - Freshman

Age: 19 Height: 6-foot-11 Weight: 220

Stats: 21.0 points, 11.1 rebounds, 1.5 assists, .8 steals, .9 blocks, 39.7% 3-point

Player Comparison: Antonio McDyess, Michael Beasley

Strengths:
Bagley has springs in his legs. After skipping a year of high school, the Duke product dominated the ACC and projects as a double-double machine at the NBA level. He knocked down nearly 40 percent of his 3-point attempts and he runs the floor like a gazelle. He’s also one of the best rebounders in the draft and he loves to finish above the rim.

Weaknesses:
While he helps to end defensive possessions with rebounds, he’s a liability on this end of the floor. Whether it was effort or acumen, Duke spent much of the season playing zones to hide his deficiencies. He’ll need to add plenty of muscle to hold his position at the NBA level. He’ll also need to find new ways to stuff the stat sheet. His assist, steal and block numbers aren’t what you would expect from a player with his athleticism.

Fit:
Sacramento is loaded at the four with young players Harry Giles, Skal Labissiere and Willie Cauley-Stein all available to play the position. Bagley has plenty of talent and might make a one or two of those players expendable. He would instantly improve the team’s rebounding woes, but there are plenty of question marks.  

Chance of going No. 2:
As of now, it’s a three-man race between Luka Doncic, Michael Porter Jr. and Bagley, but things change quickly around this time of year. The Kings are intrigued with the big man out of Duke. He swung by Sacramento last week for a full workout and meeting with the team and he left a very good impression.