Grizzlies coach right to shut down gambling

JOHN MCMULLEN, Sports Network

, Last Updated: 2:37 PM ET

PHILADELPHIA -- Vice is the opposite of virtue, a practice or habit that the rest of society usually deems as degrading, depraved or even immoral.

We all have our vices or bad habits. Some smoke, some drink and some others take it a step or two further, but the vices themselves aren't the problem, it's the person's inability to control them that can destroy lives.

The Italian poet Dante listed the seven deadly vices as vanity, avarice, lust, anger, gluttony, envy and sloth, a list I can usually run through by lunch.

Still, it's the degrees that cause the problems. Knocking back a gin-and-tonic or two isn't going to hurt me. Slamming back 10 or 12 and missing work could be a problem.

Admiring the latest addition to the Sixers' dance squad is quite natural for the average heterosexual male. Playing Brett Favre and sexting something shall we say inappropriate is entirely different.

Of course, none of that means people don't need help on occasion. I'm not a big fan of your average 12-step program but I also don't deny that many of them have helped thousands of people over the years kick or at least control impulses for everything from booze to drugs to gambling.

Gambling has always been a big problem in the NBA, a league mired in the stench of the Tim Donaghy scandal and littered with rich, often immature young men that have too much free time on the road.

The Cajun card game Bourré or Boo-Ray is a very popular pastime on a lot of NBA flights. In fact it was a game of Boo-Ray that sparked the dispute between then teammates Gilbert Arenas and Javaris Crittenton on an overnight flight from Phoenix to Washington when both were members of the Wizards.

Arenas was allegedly playfully ribbing Crittenton for losing over $1,000 in a game of Boo-Ray. Things became heated and escalated with Arenas threatening to blow up Crittenton's car, and Crittenton responding by saying he would shoot Arenas in his surgically repaired knee.

Two days later Arenas brought four guns to the Wizards' locker room and left them, with a sign saying "Pick One," at Crittenton's locker. The incident, combined with Arenas' nonchalant attitude about it led to an indefinite NBA suspension and sparked an investigation by the D.C. Metropolitan Police and the U.S. Attorney's office that resulted in a charge of carrying a pistol without a license, a violation of Washington D.C.'s strict gun-control laws.

Arenas was eventually forced to plead guilty to the felony of carrying an unlicensed pistol outside a home or business and was sentenced to two years probation and 30 days in a halfway house.

Fast forward to Jan. 3 when a physical altercation between Memphis guards O.J. Mayo and Tony Allen broke out on the team's chartered flight from Los Angeles to Memphis over an unpaid Boo-Ray debt.

According to YAHOO! Sports, Mayo owed Allen money and became increasingly belligerent and antagonistic toward Allen when asked to settle the debt. Fisticuffs followed before teammates separated the two.

Far from amused Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins quickly banned gambling on all road trips.

"We're in a confined airplane, and things get heated. I'm done with it," Hollins told the Memphis Commercial-Appeal. "No more gambling. I told my guys if they read a book, that would be good. They have to entertain themselves in a different manner."

That kind of move may raise the ire of the NBPA but it's a sound, prudent move by a coach that can survey his locker room and see a number of players that have had off-the-court problems over the years.

Sometimes a leader has to play autocrat and forget any suggestions or initiatives from his subordinates. Sometimes a leader has to step in and save people from their own vices.

Sometimes a leader has to act like Lionel Hollins.


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