Michael Jordan The Gambler Was Ruthless
The stories of Michael Jordan’s gambling are legendary. Jordan loved to play cards and hit the casinos, and his love of gambling sparked a wild conspiracy theory that his first retirement was actually an 18-month suspension levied by David Stern. There is no evidence to support this scurrilous rumor, but its existence points to just how often Air Jordan was linked to gambling.
In BetOnline’s round-table interview with Craig Hodges, Bill Cartwright, and Horace Grant, Jordan’s former teammates were asked about his gambling. All three players had memorable answers.
Hodges was the first to answer. When asked about whether or not he ever gambled with Jordan, Hodges said “Man, I ain’t have that kind of bread.” Unlike other players on the team that would bet a dollar here or there to pass the time, there were high stakes any time Jordan was involved. In ESPN’s documentary, it’s intimated that card games with Jordan routinely ran in the hundreds or thousands of dollars, and in the 1990s, many players just couldn’t afford those stakes.
When asked, Cartwright added, “I got four kids. What am I doing gambling? It’s crazy.” Further alluding to the high stakes nature of those games.
Hodges then said, “You know, the thing that used to amaze me was the people who were trying to get contracts and didn’t really have bread would actually think that they were going to get a come up on MJ in the card game. It ain’t gonna happen.” Unlike the modern day NBA where superstars can help friends and role players get contracts, players didn’t have the same power back in the day.
Unlike Hodges and Cartwright, Grant actually did join in those card games at times. “Hey, listen guys, me and (Scottie) Pippen were two of the fools back there trying to gamble with him and believe me, back in that day, we were making none of that kind of money, so we got our a** handed to us a few times”, Grant said. Grant didn’t make big money until he was in Orlando, and he never earned more than $2 million in a season with the Bulls.
Hodges was not surprised by the story, saying “I ain’t gonna say no other names, but I remember some sad faces on getting off the plane and getting off them buses. I’m like ‘Yep, there you go, let’s go home.’”
There are reports that Jordan has had hundreds of thousands on the line in golf games, and there are multiple stories of Jordan losing even more during long nights at casinos in Atlantic City and Las Vegas. However, the wildest gambling story might be that Jordan would challenge teammates to water chugging contests with thousands of dollars on the line. Stay hydrated.
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