Competition has always been a part of Michael Jordan’s life. Or his life itself was one big competition. For a man who hated to lose and had a taste for that rush that you can only get from competing, gambling was the perfect activity to pass time. Here are some of the craziest Michael Jordan gambling stories.
The latest hit on Netflix ‘Last Dance’ has shown us some fractions of the backstage of the superstar’s life. While the fans only see him as an basketball icon and a player who has somewhat revolutionized the game, there was much more to his life. Along with playing in arguably the most media-famous league in the world, he had a knack for gambling. Apparently, the rush that he got from the court was not enough for him. Offsite, he got the adrenaline pumping by gambling. During his career, he never denied the gambling rumors. After all, he had the right to gamble with anyone and bet on anything he wants as long as it was legal.
There’s even a conspiracy theory that media-sensitive NBA has pushed Michael Jordan into his first retirement because of the money he owe in gambling. However, as we can see from the documentary, it was never a problem for him. Backed by his closest friends and family, it was merely a favorite hobby of him. James Bouler, his business partner and friend has said in an interview in 1993, “Some people love to hunt. Some people love to eat. Some people like to hunt. And some people like to gamble. Michael Jordan loves to gamble”. So what are some of the Michael Jordan gambling stories that has brought this seemingly normal of his into attention of the media?
Michael Jordan gambling stories- The one that got published as a book
In 1993, probably the biggest gambling scandal in Michael Jordan’s career has surfaced. After New York Times reported that the Bulls guard was spotted at a casino at well past 2 in the morning, the talks of his gambling problem started to float around. It was the day before the Eastern Conference Final game, no less! Jordan admitted that he went to the Atlantic City to play a few games with his father, but insisted that he was back in his bed by 1 am.
Few weeks later, San-Diego sports arena owner and a self-claimed recovering gambler Richard Esquinas released a book called “Michael and me: Our Gambling Addiction… My Cry for Help!”. The book was basically about how a basketball superstar owed him 1.25 million dollars and has failed to pay back. He claimed that he has lowered the debt to 300.000 dollars after Jordan has paid him about the same amount from the money he has made from the games. The book was a sensation, to say the least. Jordan admitted that he was in debt to Richard, but that the amount was blown out of proportion. He accused Richard of exaggerating what has happened in order to sell the book.
Nevertheless, he retired during the trial of this case. He was only 30 at the time, which is not that old in the basketball community. The reason, he said, was that he has lost his will to compete. A lot of people were suspicious that this has something to do with the gambling scandal. He came out of a retirement shortly after. And there is still no evidence that the retirement was related to the problem.
Rock, Paper, Scissors
A simple game of rock, paper, scissors never hurt anybody, right? Now, we’ve all settled a bet or two with a round of the game. There are even games in the online gambling sites in the US, where you can bet on the outcome of the game. However, it was not a mere game for Jordan. One of his teammates claimed that Jordan was so into gambling, that he has bet 100k dollars on a round of rock, paper, scissors. To be honest, for a multimillionaire like him, it may not sound like a big deal. But, imagine being able to bet that amount of money on a single game without batting an eye.
Nothing is more important than a Olympics game, or is it?
While we were all betting our two cents on the Olympic games, apparently the USA team used to keep themselves entertained too. In the Barcelona Olympics, USA basketball was so relaxed that Jordan spent most of his leisure time gambling with his teammates in the hotel room. Rumor has it that he slept less than an hour before a game with Croatia, playing poker. Poker certainly is an exciting game that can make people forget about the time. But is it really good enough to keep a superstar of the team awake for a full night before a game? For Jordan, it certainly was so. As almost all of the online sportsbooks in the US predicted, team USA has crushed team Croatia in that game.
Michael Jordan gambling stories are not just restricted in the games
As his team mates and close friends remember, Michael Jordan used to bet on literally anything. As he said himself, he didn’t have a gambling problem, he had a competing problem. Because he could’ve stopped gambling at any time, but he could never control the competitive spirit of his.
One example of this is when he bet on the luggage in the airport. When the Bulls were waiting for their flight in Portland Jordan bet that his luggage would come out first. Since he was the last to come, the teammates were happy to take advantage of this favorable odds. However, surprising everybody on the team, his luggage came first. Apparently, he bribed the airport man to arrange that. Even though the money meant probably nothing for him, he just wanted to win a bet. If we believe in the words of his friends, while he liked to gamble, he would cheat, or try to cheat a lot. Tough luck, Jordan, maybe sticking to being one of the best basketball players in the world would’ve been better.