A Life On The Line: For four decades, other gamblers have tried to be Billy Walters while investigators have tried to bring him down. And for four decades, the world's most successful sports bettor has outrun them all.
For 38-year-old Rubalcada, being at the M is a pleasing trip down memory lane, a visit to his primary workplace throughout 2010 and 2011. Back then, he had nearly $1 million in his account at the M. Dressed in slacks and a sport coat, he would saunter in and bet six figures a week on NFL and college games. He was, M Resort staffers say, one of the sportsbook's "bigger guys" -- a high roller who could afford to bet very, very big.[more inside]
But he wasn't that at all.
In fact, Rubalcada was a faceless grunt in the most successful gambling enterprise of all time.
When I knew the Clippers were drafting me, the first thing I did was type Donald Sterling’s name into Google. The first hit that came up was “Donald Sterling is a racist.” I read an article on how he didn’t want minorities to live in his apartment buildings. My first thought was, Wow this guy is really, really a racist … how is he an owner of an NBA team? My second thought was, Wow, these articles are from 2003 and 2008. I guess everybody already knows about this stuff and just doesn’t care. As players, we’re not supposed to really care about anything but basketball. We’re just supposed to perform. To be honest, I didn’t ever really think about bringing up Sterling’s past. What was I supposed to do? Just picture me at the press conference my rookie year. “Uh … hey, guys, before we talk about today’s game, did you happen to see that investigative report on my owner?” -- The Boss. An Essay about working for the NBA, by Blake Griffin. [more inside]
Ever felt as though the ups and downs of the NBA playoffs and the chase for a ring is like an epic tale? Game of Thrones, NBA edition, part 1. [YouTube, 2:03] & Game of Thrones, NBA edition, part 2. [YouTube, 2:11]
Bill Simmons, Grantland boss and 30 for 30 executive producer, went from a little known Boston blogger to one of the most successful sports writers in the history of American media. Rolling Stone's Rob Tannenbaum took a deeper look at Simmons.
The NBA season has ended, and the playoffs have begun, causing a figurative ton of internet ink to be spilled on predictions and power rankings. But one word in particular seems to keep popping up in articles to describe white players like Steve Novak, Cody Zeller, Mason Plumlee, Andrew Bogut, and Josh McRoberts: "Dorky." And the writers that use it are inevitably white. Triangle Offense's Khalid Saalam (previously) thinks they should probably cut that out.
"What you’re about to see are hundreds of men across two sports not merely tolerating a gay player because he’s a peer in their league, but actually accepting him because he’s their friend." Former NFL linebacker, current sports analyst, and long-time equal rights proponent Scott Fujita writes about 'Michael Sam, Jason Collins paving the way for a better workplace, world'.
Don't fight it. It's the year of the oral history. If there hasn't yet been an oral history on your favorite pop culture phenomenon, it won't be long. In the meantime, for your reading pleasure, how about starting with an oral history of Captain Marvel: The Series? Or perhaps you'd rather read about The Telluride Bluegrass Festival? If your taste runs more toward technology, check out an oral history of Apple design. More reading inside! [more inside]
After a weekend in which tight end Rob Gronkowski and safety Tyrann Mathieu both sustained season-ending tears to their anterior cruciate ligaments, many NFL fans are wondering why there seem to be more such injuries this season than in seasons past. Grantland looks at the dreaded ACL tear and tries to solve the puzzle. [more inside]
Mike Tanier of Sports on Earth discusses poorly designed sports team logos throughout history.
As the 2013-14 NBA season approaches, the last year of the reign of Commissioner David Stern, Sports Business Journal takes an in-depth look at his successor, New Media enthusiast, marathon runner, and fan of competitive balance, Adam Silver. [more inside]
In the 1990's, Michael Doret was tasked with creating a new logo for the New York Knicks. Here is the story of how his ideas were scaled back to create the logo the team uses to this day.
From Paul Lukas of Uni Watch, a list of the 25 best uniforms in the four major North American professional sports. [more inside]
Finally, Gilbert Arenas reveals the whole story behind the infamous Washington Wizards guns in the locker room incident.
"Ever wondered why there are only 5 positions in basketball or how a player’s position is determined?" Maybe not. But analytics are becoming more and more important in basketball, to the point where some are questioning some fundamental 'facts' about the game. After the MIT Sloan Sports conference this year specifically addressed the role of analytics in basketball, there has been a bit of a backlash against the practice among commentators, coaches and fans. Yet the projects just keep coming, including this recently updated web project using some amazing mapping analysis: Courtvision [more inside]
Anticipating a season long lockout, several NBA players signed contracts with teams in the Chinese Basketball Association. Now that a labor deal has been reached, leaving for the NBA won't be easy.
The unlevel playing field - "Contrary to popular perception, poverty and broken homes are underrepresented in the NBA, not overrepresented. ... We believe that skills always trump circumstances. But that's a myth."
From 1967 to 1976, the American Basketball Association delivered wild, raw, above-the-rim hoops that few ever saw (lacking TV broadcasts). They introduced the 3-point shot and slam-dunk contests (along with a red, white and blue ball, short shorts and big afros), brought pro ball to the American South, and launched the careers of Connie (the Hawk) Hawkins, Bob Costas, George Gervin, Fly Williams, David Thompson and a guy named Julius Erving. You know, Doctor J. [more inside]
Update: In Sept. '09 I posted about Artis Gilmore being denied his place in the Basketball Hall Of Fame. Injustice rectified. [more inside]
Deadspin tells the story of the unlikely friendship between Kendrick Perkins of the Oklahoma City Thunder and two fans.
Free Darko calls it quits. Contributors to the irreverent basketball writing site that Brian Philips describes as "a vintage record shop that radiation turned into a grad student" talk about what Free Darko meant to them. Also, an interview with Free Darko writer and illustrator Bethlehem Shoals and Jacob Weinstein.
Should I be who you want me to be? We wanted you to be who you said you'd be. Maybe you're just making excuses. (previously)
Harvey Araton wrote that basketball star Reggie Miller has "a mouth that can stretch as far as his jump shot range." He might be right. Once, in a game against the New York Knicks, Miller so taunted Knicks guard John Starks that Starks headbutted him. Starks was summarily ejected. That incident took place during Game 3 of the 1993 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals - a series New York would go on to win in 5 games. [more inside]
ESPN the Magazine previews the 2010-11 NBA season by collaborating with Marvel Comics artists to produce comic book covers for each NBA team. The covers, which range from goofy to badass, were drawn by a team that includes "virtually a who's who of who's hot in comic books right now." Hi-res jpgs available for your downloading pleasure. [via] [more inside]
Billy Ray Bates, in his words, was "an average player who can do fantastic things. After flaming out in the NBA, he became a legend in Phillippine Basketball Association.> [more inside]
The Confessions of an NBA Scorekeeper Gawker's Tommy Craggs talks with an ex-scorekeeper for the Vancouver Grizzlies, and reveals the subjectivity of stat keeping in the NBA. This guy once gave Nick Van Exel 23 assists just because he felt like it.
Sports Business Journal has a detailed look behind the buzz over "The Emperor’s New Clothes: How ESPN’s Multi-Platform Strategy Hasn’t Improved Ratings," a sharply critical PowerPoint presentation making the rounds of sports league offices and advertising buyers in recent months. A good read for folks interested in the business of sports, decreasing TV ratings for many leagues, the blurriness of the ad/news line and the difficulty of measuring eyeballs across media. [via Romenesko]
There's an excellent two part dialog between Bill Simmons and Malcolm Gladwell on ESPN's Page 2 this week. The two cover a wide variety of topics such as writing, how a kid with no TV from the middle of nowhere in Canada can be a sports fan, the NFL, the economics of sports, and everyone's favorite NBA GM Isiah Thomas.
Apologevents Cuban says "Please make me apologize… The FCC as Marketing Partner" and he hits on the latest network trick.
Shaqzilla dethroned. Shaquille O'Neal, who warned Chinese citizen & #1 draft pick Yao Ming to "Look Out, Shaqzilla is coming" (presumably unaware that Tokyo is not part of China), has been dethroned; currently in fan balloting, he is running a distant second to the rookie for starting center in the All Star game. Even though his numbers are effectively double those of Yao's, even though he's a three time NBA Finals MVP.
The US defeated in basketball World Championships by a dominant Argentina team. This breaks the record 58 non-stop winning series since the US allowed NBA players in 1992. I love this, just as I loved all the upsets at the FIFA world cup.
Bona fide druggies in the NBA repeatedly gets caught not only breaking league rules, but the law. And like Lamar Odom, not much happens to these young men except they lose tens of thousands of dollars in fines. My question: why have a drug policy in the NBA if you're not going to do much to punish them - especially the super talented, good-looking, nice ones like Odom?
It's official, Jordan is back in the NBA. He's claiming it's for the love of the game, but I'm guessing maybe the book and the movie didn't do as well as he hoped? Do you think he'll pop back in and dominate the game, or have the Kobes and Iversons of the world passed him by?
The NBA Finals start tonight. I've never been a big fan of watching any sport, but the hometown Sixers have been quite exciting. Now I find myself hoping that they can find a way to win against those smug Lakers and quiet their arrogant, over-confident fans. Anyone else love an underdog?
NBA Finals Fixed, Ray Allen all but makes the statement straight out. I have been hearing this on the radio over the last week or so. Could it just be poor officiating?
Why it sucks to be in the media spotlight. Need I say more? Why they felt the need to put this in print for the whole world to see is beyond my comprehension. My God... can you imagine?