Gambling is a long-standing tradition for traveling professional sports teams in just about every sport, dating back to baseball teams on trains in the early 1900s.
Fights over money won-and-lost is a tradition that started about 5 minutes later.
In today’s NBA, these are ultra-competitive people and that energy carries over to everything, including a game of cards. These athletes don’t like to lose and for that reason don’t like to pay up (it’s rarely about the money and more about the pride). That’s what happened with the Tony Allen/O.J. Mayo fight with the Grizzlies — it was over less than $1,500 (which is not much in NBA circles). But a fight broke out over it and now gambling has been banned on Grizzlies road trips.
Ray Allen told 98.5 the Sports Hub in Boston (via Sports Radio Interviews) there are card games on Celtics flights, but things have not escalated because they are a veteran team with strong locker room leaders.
It takes a mature group of guys to be able to deal with a situation like that. There are cases that on some teams, (banning gambling is) possibly something you should do, but for us, we have a mature group of guys. … We know how to take care of ourselves and be men and make sure that certain things don’t take place. We’re responsible for each other. There’s some teams that just aren’t capable.”
Allen said there is a system in place for the Celtics to deal with gambling debts.
We just have a committee. We always talk about, you have this amount of time to pay your debt, whether it’s the next trip or whatever. So if you’re playing cards and you lose, everybody’s like, ‘You owe this dude that much money, you’ve got to pay him by the next time we get on the plane.’ It’s kind of like out of shame that we get guys to pay each other back.
“I, personally, stopped gambling.”
That may be the wisest bet of all.