With the rise in sports betting, there has been another spike. The amount of people who know very little about sports betting but want to blame sports betting for practically any issue is multiplying.
Even with that becoming a thing, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban went to a new level on ESPN when asked about NBA player load management.
Somehow, Cuban thinks gamblers are the ones who complain about load management. Not fans, who pay a lot of money for tickets and sometimes are treated to superstars sitting out. Just gamblers.
Here’s Cuban’s comments from “First Take” on load management:
“While I think fans looked at it from one perspective, I don’t think it was as big of a problem as it was made out to be,” Cuban said. “I think a lot of the influence came from gamblers. We’ve transitioned from a world of, ‘Hey, this is my team, I grew up a Mavs fan, I’ll always be a Mavs fan,’ to on social media half the talk if not more is about ‘I’ve got this bet on this game, what are the odds going to be, what is the line going be?’ And that influences a lot of perspective of load management. Because of, ‘Who am I going to bet on?’ It’s unfortunate but that’s the reality of the world we live in.”
Wow. Even in a world in which it’s easy to blame betting for everything, that’s a stunning take.
Who is bothered by NBA load management?
It’s not cheap to go to NBA games. TicketIQ says the average ticket price for a Dallas Mavericks home game on the secondary market is $179. Cuban saying that fans don’t think it’s a big problem to pay to see Luka Doncic — who hasn’t played more than 70 games since his rookie season, though injuries play a part in that too — and getting Josh Green instead is remarkably out of touch. Ask the family of four who dropped hundreds of dollars just to see backups play.
Load management is a viable strategy to keep stars fresh for the playoffs, but it’s not good for the game. When the Milwaukee Bucks come through a Western Conference city once a year and Giannis Antetokounmpo and Damian Lillard sit, that’s bad for anyone who enjoys seeing the best players in the world. When someone has a Wednesday night free and a Philadelphia 76ers game is on TV, it’s a lot easier to turn on something else if Joel Embiid doesn’t play.
Those things have nothing to do with whether someone is a fan of a team their whole life, like Cuban was talking about. It doesn’t have much to do with betting either.
Bettors understand load management
Most bettors who bet on the NBA and take it even somewhat seriously understand load management better than most. The best bettors will use load management to their advantage, finding angles based on which stars are sitting and when. Bettors adjusted to the new world already.
Bettors are affected a lot less by whether Jayson Tatum plays on the second night of a back-to-back, because the point spreads shift based on that information and bettors react accordingly. Fans who want to see the Boston Celtics when they’re in town and buy the tickets ahead of time, only to have Tatum sit out, have a lot more to gripe about. That seems pretty obvious, no matter what Cuban says.
Cuban’s explanation doesn’t make much sense, but it’s an easy way to deflect. The NBA would probably be better off with a shorter regular season, with no more back-to-backs and presumably fewer stars sitting out, but that would cost owners like Cuban money. That’s less ticket sales and less inventory to sell in TV contract negotiations. But it’s easier to blame bettors than to look at that possibility.