Monday, February 18, 2013

the last book I ever read (David George Surdam's The Rise of the National Basketball Association, excerpt eight)

from The Rise of the National Basketball Association by David George Surdam:

Gamblers were not reticent about their presence at college basketball games throughout the country, and they were especially notorious at Madison Square Garden. Only the most na├»ve could believe there was not potential for an unseemly scandal. Fixing a basketball game was not too difficult. Because the bets were based on point differentials, gamblers could convince players that they weren’t actually throwing games, just manipulating the score. Clever and skillful players could shave a point or two here and there without too much suspicion, especially when there were few game films to check their behavior.

As early as 1944, college coaches were sounding the alarm that a scandal was imminent. Famous Kansas coach Forrest “Phog” Allen warned that Madison Square Garden was rife with trouble, citing an attempt to fix an NCAA championship game between University of Utah and Dartmouth College. Ned Irish, the Garden’s acting president retorted, “If Allen has any proof of dishonesty in basketball games at the Garden, he’d better come through with it.” Allen apparently sent Irish the name of a player who had sold out and been expelled from college. Irish’s response was to increase police presence at the game, with orders to prevent all known gamblers from entering the Garden.

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