PORTLAND, Ore. – Los Angeles Lakers coach Phil Jackson won’t be snatching a deck of playing cards out of his players’ hands anytime soon.
Jackson said Friday he doesn’t support banning players from gambling on team charter flights. Suspended Washington Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas(notes) and teammate Javaris Crittenton(notes) had a dispute over a card game on the team’s flight home from Phoenix on Dec. 19, and it carried over to the locker room two days later when Arenas brought guns to the arena. Since then, the Wizards and New Jersey Nets have banned gambling on team charter planes.
“It’s just a PR thing, personally,” Jackson said. “What are these players going to do when they get back to their hotels, when they are in their own space, even their houses? They’re going to go their rooms and gamble. I think maybe on the planes would be a better spot for that because it could be monitored. It hasn’t been a problem.
“We have guys that play, four or five guys that play. They seem to have a wonderful time. It seems to be a great release for them.”
Jackson said he also gambled as a player long ago when teams flew commercially, which, he added, he “wasn’t very good at.” Lakers forward Lamar Odom(notes) agreed with Jackson that the Wizards’ incident was an individual case.
“From team to team, it might be different,” Odom said. “Of course, it’s a touchy situation because of what is happening right now. But for us, there is a lot of camaraderie. We are not trying to break each other. For us, we kind of come together. It kind of brings us together.
“What if something happened at practice or on the practice floor? Are you going to stop practice? No more practicing. I guess every team will kind of police it differently.”