Sports Heroes, Fallen Idols

By Stanley H. Teitelbaum | Go to book overview

5. Basketball Gambling Scandals

It’s true that I bet on some of our games, less than a dozen, but I always
bet on us to win. I’ve never done anything dishonest in my life.

Jack Molinas

The integrity of basketball has been repeatedly rocked by scandal— more than that of any other sport. The propensity of college athletes to accept bribes for “only” point shaving has led to many notorious and disgraceful episodes. Young lives have been permanently destroyed by poor judgment and impulsive decisions based on greed and group contagion.

In 2000 Junius Kellogg was nominated posthumously for the Basketball Hall of Fame. He was not elected. He never really had much of a chance, since he never played in the NBA and was not a dominant college player despite being six feet eight inches tall. Kellogg’s claim to fame was that as a starting center for Manhattan College, he blew the whistle on a bribe offer that triggered the widespread college basketball scandal of 1951.

At the time, college basketball in New York had attained unprecedented popularity. Five of the local teams were perennial leaders among the nationally ranked teams, and most of their home games were played at Madison Square Garden, the mecca of basketball, rather than at the campus gymnasium. The year-end National Invitation Tournament (NIT) at Madison Square Garden rivaled the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) tournament for prestige. In 1950 the City College of New York (CCNY) had achieved the remarkable feat of winning both tournaments, and college basketball and New York City were at the center of the postwar sports world. All of that changed dramatically and permanently with the exposés of 1951.

The bribe attempt Kellogg reported ignited a major point shaving scandal that ultimately involved thirty-three players from seven colleges who admitted to fixing forty-nine games dating back to 1947.

-69-

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Sports Heroes, Fallen Idols
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Sports Heroes, Fallen Idols iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Introduction xi
  • 1. the Need for Heroes 1
  • 2. the Psyche of the Athlete 17
  • 3. Baseball Gambling Scandals 33
  • 4. Football Gambling Scandals 58
  • 5. Basketball Gambling Scandals 69
  • 6. Self-Destructive Athletes 101
  • 7. Athletes and Violence toward Women 138
  • 8. Athletes and Murder 178
  • 9. Violence between Athletes 197
  • 10. Athletes’ Mental Health Problems 220
  • Epilogue 240
  • Notes 249
  • Index 265
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