ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski Blames Unruly Fans for Sports Betting

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski Blames Unruly Fans for Sports Betting

Adrian Wojnarowski.

Adrian Wojnarowski.
Print Screen: ESPN

The NBA hasn’t had an actual (or discovered) gaming scandal since game booking became legal in more than select locations. Unless you count Scott Foster’s series of keeping playoff teams that employ Chris Paul — who is currently at 14 games after the The Suns’ loss to New Orleans in Game 2 Tuesday night – as a controversy, there hasn’t been an overt case like in the NFL when Calvin Ridley was caught playing the Falcons in some parlays while he stayed at home for most of the season.

Cue ESPN Adrian Wojnarowski, who blamed Horrible and retaliatory behavior from Boston fans towards Kyrie Irving not in Kyrie’s contentious history with the franchise or in the Celtics’ fan history with black players, but rather in the rise of legalized play.

I’m not a professional gaming guy. I don’t bet on sports because I don’t have money, but also because I have my interests in cheering the old-fashioned way, through long-standing but changeable prejudices. However, in defense of the many degenerates I know, they played long before it was regulated.

The guy who gets drunk and yells an obscenity or two at Bogdan Bogdanović for falling short of 19 points, thus sinking his parlay in the same game, was going to get drunk and tell a player to fuck off anyway. Idiots are assholes, and the world isn’t suddenly overrun with an influx of them, it’s just easier to catch them being assholes on camera than it was in the past.

Irving kicking fans is not a new occurrence. The then Bronco QB Jake Plummer gave fans of his own team the bird in 2004. (Colorado sports fans are relentless. booed Paxton Lynch for simply joining a preseason game, and the entire student section of the Buffs was expelled of football games many times for throwing debris on the field.) And going back, there was Jack McDowell who, in 1994, gave Yankees fans the finger for booing when he came off the mound, earning the nickname, the yankee fin.

I understand where Woj was coming from because it’s a player’s perspective, which is the only point of view he values, because that’s how he manages to have the relationships that he has with players. Standing up to the league, your employer and your business partners is brave, even if it’s easier when you have the unemployment insurance that comes with signing a five-year, $7 million-a-year contract with ESPN.

There are a lot of people who both agree and disagree with the insider’s opinion, and it’s clear that the anti-gaming crowd latched onto it. When I wrote an article warning sports leagues about the risks of going into business with gambling sites, I was thinking more along the lines of Ridley or disgraced referee Tim Donaghy. Not a couple of guys from Southie, who are genetically prone to getting upset, getting upset over a second-half bet gone wrong.

The media outlets that chided Woj, calling him a “silly” for not taking into account that sports betting is still not legal in Massachusetts, also need to calm down. As mentioned earlier, just because it’s illegal doesn’t mean it’s not happening. Do you think the guy listed on your phone as “Tony P” isn’t going to take a bet on the game via text message, set in Vegas, because it’s not legal in Masshole State? Putting a pencil on his $20 bet is like number 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.

The comments and harassment from the stands may contain more vitriol because the money is at stake? Absolutely. That said, the line for what’s acceptable is crossed by all types of fans, and how far it’s been crossed only matters as much as people’s outrage says it should.

Whether they are racist fans, drunk fans, or “morally corrupt” gambling addicts is not the problem. They are all idiots to varying degrees who should be banned from games if the day line is crossed. Improving the fan experience requires improving the fans as a whole, and I don’t think curbing social decay falls under Adam Silver’s responsibilities. (Making profit for the league, however.)

The logic that the NBA is responsible for fans’ abominable behavior because they let sinners into the chapel doesn’t work if the reprobate are already among the clergy.

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