Nuggets United Against Gambling Ban
DENVER -- While some NBA teams are seeing concerns about gambling at 30,000 feet, Denver star Chauncey Billups sees camaraderie being built in the supposedly friendly skies.
That is, as long as stakes are kept low.
Reports have surfaced about the Washington Wizards banning gambling from team flights and the New Jersey Nets doing likewise in wake of the gun incident involving Gilbert Arenas and Javaris Crittenton of the Wizards. Reports have stated the situation, which has led to Arenas being suspended indefinitely by the NBA, began due to Arenas allegedly owing Crittenton a $25,000 gambling debt from a team flight.
But FanHouse spoke to four Denver players on Friday, and none saw any reason for teams to ban gambling, primarily card games, as long as it's for small dollars.
"I definitely don't think that's something teams should do,'' said Billups, one of the NBA's most respected players. "I think that when it's done in the right way, that's great camaraderie. Everybody likes to gamble whether it's any kind of card game. Whatever it is, I think that it's who you gamble with. I think that it's the stakes that you gamble for.
"For our team, we gamble for small money. Just to waste time. Twenty dollars. If we gambled for $2,000, $2,500, $3,000, now that messes with your camaraderie. Now, when someone wants to get paid ... it's like 'I don't want to be around this guy.' I think it's about what you gamble for and who you're with ... We're not gambling to pay bills. We're just gambling to have fun.''
Billups believes it's unfair to blame the incident between Arenas and Crittenton, in which there are reports about guns having been drawn between the two, on gambling on a team flight. So does Denver's other big star, Carmelo Anthony.
"We ain't bringing no guns around here,'' Anthony said. "So we ain't got nothing to worry about. You can't judge everybody off an incident like that.''
Anthony also noted Denver's card games are for very low stakes.
"We play five-dollar games and one-dollar games,'' Anthony said. "Five dollars is the max.''
Nuggets guard Arron Afflalo agreed the games build camaraderie.
"It's usually all in fun,'' he said. "It doesn't get serious... I really think some of those things [such as the Arenas-Crittenton situation] are based on the individuals rather than the act of gambling itself. If the wrong individual is gambling, that can always be a problem. And not just in the NBA.''
Nuggets big man Chris Andersen said he doesn't take part in the card games, preferring to watch movies. But Andersen sees no problem with what takes part.
"It's just five dollars, 10 dollars,'' he said.
Cleveland center Zydrunas Ilgauskas, whose Cavaliers play at Denver on Friday, also doesn't gamble. He also sees no need for rules along the lines of what the Wizards and Nets have done.
"If somebody wants to do it, it doesn't bother me,'' Ilgauskas said. "You can't treat people like kids. Everybody's a grown adult so at some point everybody has to be accountable for themselves.''
Billups on Friday also was asked in a media session his feelings about the Arenas suspension. Billups said Arenas didn't help himself with his actions after reports of the incident surfaced, which included sending defiant Tweets and Tuesday doing a mock firing of guns before a game at Philadelphia.
"It's just an unfortunate situation,'' Billups said. "I think Gilbert knows that he used some really bad judgment the way he's acted since the whole thing came out, and that's what probably cost him. I'm sure once he has a chance to sit back and contemplate it, he's going to feel very sorry for what he did. I don't know if all the facts are true. I don't know if anybody does. It's kind of how you carry yourself and how you act. I think that's what's kind of made the situation what it is right now.''
In other Nuggets news Friday, Bret Adams, the attorney for coach George Karl, said a report in the Newark (N.J.) Star-Ledger that contract extension talks with Karl have been tabled until the end of the season is inaccurate.
"Discussions continue,'' Adams said about the report that stated Karl, who has publicly said he wants to stay in Denver, could be a candidate next season for the New Jersey job.
Karl, whose contract expires at the end of the season, has been offered a three-year extension by the Nuggets for a bit more than $11 million, with the third year not guaranteed. Karl has not accepted the offer, and the sides have been said to be a few million dollars apart.
Chris Tomasson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter@christomasson