For anyone who’s ever believed that the NBA has always had something shady going on behind the scenes, whether it be a frozen envelope, a crooked refereeing team, or just something not quite on the level, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver just answered all of your tinfoil-hatted prayers. Speaking at the Bloomberg National Sports Summit, Silver told reporters that he anticipated the legality of sports gambling to expand throughout the country, and that the NBA would get behind it, eventually.
“It’s inevitable that, if all these states are broke, that there will be legalized sports betting in more states than Nevada and we will ultimately participate in that,” the commissioner said, adding, “If you have a gentleman’s bet or a small wager on any kind of sports contest, it makes you that much more engaged in it. That’s where we’re going to see it pay dividends.” Silver, who has no ethical problem with gambling, emphasized that this increased attention is what’s the most appealing about the spread of gambling, and as people who have occasionally and informally placed small sums of money on the line during March Madness and the NBA playoffs, we can sympathize.
This shift marks a dramatic difference from 2012, when each of the major pro leagues in American sports (as well as the NCAA) sued to keep gambling away from pro sports, but that was a different commissioner and a different era for the NBA, which is now so popular that its teams are starting to be sold at prices that rival NFL teams, although football’s stranglehold on the country’s collective sports identity remains strong.