Cavaliers coach J.B. Bickerstaff reveals he was threatened by sports bettors: ‘Dangerous game’

Cavaliers coach J.B. Bickerstaff made a startling revelation Wednesday night that highlighted some growing discontent in the NBA over the consequences of legalized sports betting. 

Bickerstaff told reporters that bettors had been able to get a hold of his phone number last season, and they “were sending me crazy messages about where I live and my kids and all that stuff.” 

“It’s a dangerous game. A fine line that we’re walking for sure,” he said. 

Bickerstaff said he alerted security, and they were able to locate the person, but no charges were ever filed. 

Cleveland Cavaliers head coach J. B. Bickerstaff reacts in the second quarter against the Miami Heat at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. USA TODAY Sports via Reuters Con

The Cavs coach, who is in his fourth season at the helm in Cleveland, shared the wild story after he was asked about comments that Pacers guard Tyrese Haliburton made Tuesday about the effects of sports betting. 

Haliburton said that he felt like a “prop” for sports gamblers.

That came after Timberwolves center Rudy Gobert explained he felt gambling was “hurting our game.”

#Cavs head coach J.B. Bickerstaff makes a startling revelation in explaining why he feels sports gambling has already gone too far even though he understands the business reasons behind it now being embraced by professional leagues.— Daryl Ruiter (@RuiterWrongFAN) March 20, 2024

Bickerstaff sees the added challenges that it has brought to the games and his job. 

“It brings added pressure,” he said. “It brings a distraction to the game that can be difficult for players, coaches, referees, everybody that’s involved in it. 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.”

Sports betting doesn’t appear to be going anywhere anytime soon, despite some concerns. 

Cleveland Cavaliers guard Darius Garland (10) celebrates with coach J.B. Bickerstaff, right, during the second half against the New Orleans Pelicans in an NBA basketball game in New Orleans, Wednesday, March 13, 2024. AP

The NBA has partnered with FanDuel, and a number of teams — and some arenas — have worked alongside various sports betting companies. 

The league also is incorporating betting odds into live games on NBA League Pass. 

“There’s no doubt about it that it’s crossed the line,” Bickerstaff said. “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. 

“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.”

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