Earl ‘The Pearl’ Monroe in basketball, bad beats Hall of Fame

To paraphrase Mike McD, Matt Damon’s character in the movie “Rounders,” few bettors recall big wagers they’ve won but every gambler remembers with remarkable accuracy the worst bad beats of his career.

That’s certainly true for Las Vegas resident Norman Freedman, who, after reading our column on the top 10 bad beats of 2017, recounted his own epic tale of gambling misfortune.

Freedman is 83 but vividly recalled details of a bad beat he suffered 40 years ago, when Earl “The Pearl” Monroe mysteriously turned his apparent $2,000 win into a $100 loss.

It was March 1977, and the Knicks were hosting the Trail Blazers — minus Bill Walton — at Madison Square Garden. Freedman, who was hoping to hit an elusive middle, had an $1,100 bet on the Knicks minus-5½ with one bookmaker and an $1,100 wager on Portland plus-7 with another.

The tumblers appeared to click into place for Freedman as the Knicks were up by six with four seconds left and taking the ball out under their own basket to presumably run out the clock.

“I was counting the $2,000 win,” Freedman recalled. “I couldn’t lose.”

Monroe took the inbounds pass, then inexplicably shot the ball into his own basket as time expired. New York won 108-104 and dealt Freedman the most painful bad beat of his life.

“If this happened today, it would be headlines and I would die from a heart attack,” he said. “But years ago nothing went down because of it.”

According to KnickerBlogger.net, an ESPN affiliate, Monroe was actually investigated by the NBA for point-shaving because of the incident, but the league cleared him of any wrongdoing.

He clearly wronged Freedman.

$470,000 bad beat

A bad beat on Christmas night might end up costing a Westgate SuperContest Gold contestant $470,000. The alias BrettFavre444 is one of 94 contestants in the $5,000-entry, winner-take-all contest.

He would’ve taken the lead with one week left in the contest had the Raiders covered as 8½-point underdogs in Monday’s 19-10 loss to the Eagles.

But Oakland, trailing by three with three seconds left, fumbled while trying the doomed desperation lateral and Philadelphia’s Derek Barnett returned it 23 yards for the touchdown and cover in the SuperContest.

The play was a miracle cover for Stag Capital (47-31-2), which had the Eagles and took the SuperContest Gold lead with 48 points (one point for win, half-point for push).

BrettFavre444 (46-32-2, 47 points) is one point back while Midwest Square (45-30-5, 47½) and BKSF (47-32-1, 47½) each trail by a half-point.

SuperContest to crown $1.3 million winner

The $1,500-entry SuperContest will feature its first $1 million winner this season, and Grannys Boy (55-20-5, 57½) has a 2½-point lead over HowDoIPlay XX (53-23-4, 55) after both entries went 5-0 in Week 16. A record 2,748 entries will produce a $1.3 million payout for the champion.

Kozak defends Golden Nugget title

Chris Kozak, whose alias is Mucked Nuts, will try to repeat as winner of the Golden Nugget’s Friday Football Showdown, which featured 95 $2,000 entries for a prize pool of $190,000. Kozak will square off in the final against DMill, alias of Las Vegas advantage player David Miller. Their final seven plays will be announced on The Las Vegas Sportsline (2 p.m. Friday, KWWN (1100 AM, 100.9 FM)) and posted on Lvsportsnetwork.com.

Bowling for dollars

The sharp bettors are on Ohio State (-7½) over Southern California in Friday’s Cotton Bowl and on Georgia and Alabama in Monday’s College Football Playoff, according to CG Technology sports book vice president Matt Holt and Westgate sports book manager Jeff Sherman.

Holt said the professionals also are on Louisville (-6½), Memphis (-3½) and Washington (+2½) on Saturday and on Auburn (-9½) on Monday.

Best bet

Miami-based handicapper Lee Sterling’s best bowl bet is on the Hurricanes, who are essentially home underdogs of between 4½ and 6 points to Wisconsin in Saturday’s Orange Bowl.

“Miami’s best two games, by far, were their home games vs. Virginia Tech and Notre Dame,” said Sterling (ParamountSports.com). “The Hurricanes complete the trifecta on Saturday night before the rabid crowd.”

Contact reporter Todd Dewey at tdewey@reviewjournal.com. Follow @tdewey33 on Twitter.

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