ESPN.com columnist Bill Simmons isn’t shy when it comes to broadcasting his sports gambling picks.
Gambling is normally a topic of discussion on his The B.S. Report podcast, which if fine and dandy unless you end up having a direct impact on the final outcome.
Earlier this year, Simmons said on his podcast that he was betting on LeBron James to win the 2012 NBA MVP award.
Little did Simmons or ESPN know that the NBA would send him a voting ballot for the 2011-12 NBA season — which he filled out last week on The B.S. Report. On the podcast, he voted for James (duh) as MVP.
It appeared this blatant conflict of interest was going to fly under the radar until Business Insider grilled ESPN about their gambling policy:
“Bill had never received a ballot before and didn’t find out he had one until two-thirds of the season had passed. By that time he had made multiple MVP bets, two of which he had discussed on podcasts. He ended up withdrawing his MVP vote to avoid the perception of any conflict.”
We’ve asked the NBA for a comment on its policy towards sportswriters betting on awards, and it hasn’t responded.
Simmons should have declined the ballot from the start and not put ESPN in this potential sticky position.
And in case you’re wondering, James is the favorite to win the award later this month.