April 24, 2024

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Timberwolves center Rudy Gobert suggests referees are influenced by betting: 'It's hurting our game'

Timberwolves center Rudy Gobert suggests referees are influenced by betting: 'It's hurting our game'

CLEVELAND — Minnesota Timberwolves center Rudy Gobert suggested that sports betting affects how NBA referees officiate games after one of them rated him a technician with 27.8 seconds left in arranging an eventual overtime loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday.

Gobert was booed for his sixth and disqualifying foul with Minnesota down one point, and responded by flashing the money sign with both hands — as if Johnny Manziel were in the end zone. Referee Natalie Sago saw him do it and slapped him with a technical, sending Cleveland's Darius Garland to the goal line for a foul shot that tied the game at 97.

The Cavaliers won 113-104.

“My reaction, which I think is the truth – it's what I really believe – even if it is the truth, it was not the right time for me to react that way,” Gobert said afterward. “I shouldn't have done that. It cost my team the game, and they obviously couldn't wait to give me the technology. That was bad. That was an immature reaction.”

When asked to clarify what he thought, Gobert said: “I made some mistakes. I volleyed a dunk. Mistakes happen. Referees make mistakes too but sometimes I think it's more than just mistakes. I think everyone in this league knows. “I think it has to get better.”

Jobert said he fully expects to be fined for his comments, for being “the bad guy who is once again speaking what I believe to be the truth.”

But he said he felt compelled to express his opinion because “I think it's hurting our game.”

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“I know the bet and everything gets bigger and bigger, but it doesn't have to look that way,” Gobert said.

Gobert's sixth foul was a loose ball violation called against him when he and Cleveland's Jarrett Allen were tangled under the Timberwolves' basket, struggling to avoid an Anthony Edwards foul. Earlier in the game, Gobert elbowed Allen in the ribs during another move and was called for an offensive foul. Officials upgraded it to a flagrant Foul-1 penalty after reviewing the video.

When Garland made the free throw after Gobert's money signal, the Cavaliers had a chance to win it in regulation but Naz Reid blocked Garland's 3-point attempt. Edwards, who was playing with several minor injuries, threw an air ball and the game went to overtime, where the Cavaliers dominated the extra session.

“I thought calling the game pretty much the same way, both ways — I think both teams were a little disappointed, but that's basketball,” said Minnesota assistant coach Mika Nouri, who replaced coach Chris Finch (illness).

Nouri described Gobert receiving a technical warning late in a close match as “unacceptable” on Gobert’s part.

“We just have to be smarter,” Nouri said. “I think he did a photo or something, it's kind of spontaneous. And we all know Rudy. There's no guy more professional than him. In that moment, for him to do that, he obviously feels bad about it. We just have to be a little better.”

As Gobert alluded to, this is not the first time he has expressed his dissatisfaction with management. He has made critical statements several times throughout his career, including last season.

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Last March, after a loss to Phoenix, Gobert said: “I've been in this league for 10 years and I always try to give the benefit of the doubt, but it's hard for me to think they're not trying to help (the Sun) win tonight. It's hard for me to “I think they didn't try to help the Warriors win that night or the Sacramento Kings that night. It's pretty obvious. As a basketball player who's been in the league a long time, it's disrespectful and disgusting, to be honest.”

Sports betting is legal in 38 states, including Ohio, where Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in Cleveland, which is operated by Caesars, has a sports betting site. The NBA, like other major professional sports in the United States, has embraced fans betting on its games, and in 2021 announced DraftKings and FanDuel as official sports betting partners.

The league office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on this story.

Allen scored a career-high 33 points, including going 15 of 21 at the free throw line, and Garland scored 34 points. Reed scored a career-best 34 points off the bench and tied a career-high with seven 3s for the Wolves, who played their second game since All-Star Karl-Anthony Towns went down with a torn meniscus. Edwards, one night after making a game-saving block and hitting his head on a rim that went viral, scored 19 points but shot 7 of 27.

The loss dropped the Timberwolves (44-20) to second place in the Western Conference, half a game behind the Oklahoma City Thunder (44-19). The Cavaliers (41-22) compete with Milwaukee for second place in the East.

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(Photo: Ken Blaze/USA Today)