LeBron James said he didn’t know longtime manager and business partner Maverick Carter placed bets on NBA games via an illegal bookie, a revelation reported Thursday by the Washington Post.
The Post reported Carter confirmed he placed bets on NBA games during an interview in November 2021 by federal agents investigating Wayne Nix, who has since pleaded guilty to charges related to running an offshore sports-betting ring. Carter told agents he “could not remember placing any bets on the Lakers,” according to an investigative report reviewed by the Post.
Adam Mendelsohn, a spokesman for James and Carter, told The Post: “Mr. Carter was not the target of the investigation, cooperated, was never charged, and never contacted again on the matter.”
After the Lakers’ loss to the Thunder on Thursday night, James told reporters he just learned of Carter’s betting history and 2021 interview with federal investigators during the last 24 hours.
“Maverick’s his own man and at the end of the day, gambling is legal,” James said. “I mean, you can go on your phone right now and do whatever you want. And he has no affiliation with the NBA or NFL, so, he can do what he wants to do.”
While the NBA bars players, coaches, staff and agents from betting on games, there are no rules barring business managers from gambling. However, the NBA has business partnerships with betting companies and casino owners are in the process of buying a majority ownership stake in the Dallas Mavericks.
James said he’s noticed gambling has become a bigger part of the NBA conversation during his career.
“I mean, it’s weird that some of our regular fans that love the game kind of only care about a parlay now,” he said. “I guess that’s the word everybody is using. It’s kind of taken some of the integrity out of the game because people are kind of really only caring about the betting. I mean, it’s always [happened]. I mean, listen, people have been betting on games since Arnold Rothstein set the bet in the 1920s on the World Series. Come on, come on. So, it’s been going on for years. But it’s legalized now. Is it legalized in every state now? The majority, right? I think it’s in 38-plus states. So, I mean, to each his own.”
James, who is sharing his NFL picks every week this season, said it’s common to meet fans who care more about individual performances than the team result.
“You hear it. And you see it on social media all the time, too,” he said. “But people play fantasy football and fantasy basketball as well and it’s like, ‘I need you to get four 3s tonight … I need you to get six assists.’ Whatever. I mean, I don’t care about that stuff.”