EPSN writer Bill Simmons has been forced to withdraw his ballot for the National Basketball Association’s most valuable player after questions arose regarding his having placed a bet on the outcome of the vote. Prior to the start of the current NBA season, Simmons publicly disclosed on his ESPN blog The B.S. Report that he’d placed a bet on Lebron James receiving the MVP nod. Trouble is, the NBA subsequently decided to issue Simmons a ballot for this year’s MVP honors, which Simmons used (also publicly via his podcast) to vote for James.
Fast forward to this week, when Business Insider pointed out that Simmons appeared to have a personal stake in James winning the MVP. This prompted Simmons to withdraw his ballot to avoid (in ESPN’s words) “the perception of any conflict.” ESPN said it had policies regarding employees gambling, but also stated that “for many sports fans, gambling is a part of sports discussion. Therefore, periodically, our commentators include references to gambling in ways that are appropriate for their role and relevant to our audience. In Bill’s case, he connects with millions by sharing common interests. Gambling in sports is a part of that cultural connection and appropriately at times part of Bill’s work.” Sort of like how it’s occasionally appropriate for CalvinAyre.com reporters to guzzle a fifth of Hendricks gin because, you know, it’s our job. Punch in, punch out, drink too much punch, get punched out… All in a day’s work.
ESPN recently published a profile that touched on the NBA betting habits of one Floyd ‘Money’ Mayweather Jr. When not ruminating on the size of Manny Pacquiao’s skull, Floyd is a serious NBA bettor. In March, we first heard about ‘the bag’ aka the leather duffel in which Floyd keeps neatly bound stacks of $100 bills, exclusively for the purpose of Floyd’s sportsbook visits. But ESPN has since reported on the existence of a separate bag, one which (at the time of writing) contained $20k worth of Mega Millions lottery tickets – confirming our suspicions that it was Floyd who held up the line of hopefuls waiting to buy tickets at that gas station along the California/Nevada border. (Sadly, we’re no wiser as to what that $20k investment returned, nor which one of Floyd’s toadies was responsible for checking each ticket.) Anyway, in the latest ESPN bag story, someone in Floyd’s entourage misplaces a winning betting slip worth $80k and unintentionally comic follies ensue. Worth a read.
As Floyd prepares for his weekend tilt against Miguel Cotto in Las Vegas, the suggestion is being made that Nevada will see less of these marquee matchups in future. Just as Singapore is set to eclipse Las Vegas in terms of gaming revenue, boxing announcer Jimmy Lennon Jr. envisions a day when Singapore becomes the more likely host of top-flight boxing events. Lennon told Reuters that “it may take some time, and it won’t happen overnight, but the world is moving east in many ways, the economy, the language and so forth, making that shift is not out of the realms of possibilities.”