roshtein logo
23 jersey and basketball ball
23 jersey and basketball ball

Michael Jordan’s High Stakes Gambling Life Off-Court

Tumultuous gambling history of one of the NBA greats!!!

Michael Jordan has lived a rich life, there’s no question about it. Not many people would be able to accomplish what the iconic Chicago Bulls guard has done during his lifetime. Title after title, Michael Jordan grew as a player, as a man, and became the legend! However, that doesn’t mean that there were no missteps or controversies surrounding him - Jordan’s crazy gambling habits being the biggest one of them all. 

The stories of Jordan’s gambling exploits are as legendary as his moves on the basketball court! The line between truth and fiction has most certainly been blurred in some of the stories about when and how much he gambled but then again, Jordan himself was never really shy about his love for gambling. 

Unstoppable Competitive Spirit of Michael Jordan       

michael jordan smiling

To understand Michael Jordan's relationship with gambling, one must first comprehend his fierce competitiveness. In his 1993 interview with Ahmad Rashad, while discussing his gambling habits, Jordan said: “I have a competition problem.” The same drive that elevated him to the very top of the NBA, with 6 NBA championship rings and 5 NBA MVP awards, was not confined to the basketball court. Off the court, Jordan found an outlet for this ceaseless competitiveness in gambling, sparking controversies and concerns throughout his career and beyond.

Jordan’s Gambling Controversies & Speculations  

Jordan's penchant for gambling was no secret. He was often seen at casinos and tales of high-stake bets on golf games, poker hands, and even coin tosses are part of his lore. The competitive spirit that had defined his NBA career was also prevalent in his gambling habits.

Perhaps the most prominent episode related to Jordan's gambling occurred during the 1993 NBA playoffs. Amid the Bulls' first three-peat, Jordan was seen gambling in an Atlantic City casino the night before a crucial game against the New York Knicks. The incident raised questions about his priorities, though Jordan defended his actions, stating that his gambling was not affecting his performances. He was right - Jordan and the Bulls went on to clinically defeat the Knicks and claim their third championship.

jordan name on a jersey

MJ’s gambling history reached an infamous peak in 1992 when the late San Diego businessman Richard Esquinas claimed in a book that Jordan owed him $1.2 million from golf betting. Jordan dismissed the allegation as an exaggeration, but he did admit to a hefty loss of $300,000. The public revelation sparked a flurry of concerns about whether Jordan's gambling could affect his play or the integrity of the game.

The following year, in 1993, Jordan's father James Jordan was murdered. Initial rumors swirled that it was somehow tied to Michael Jordan's gambling debts. However, no connection was ever established, and these rumors were widely criticized as irresponsible speculations. The case was eventually solved, and two teenagers were convicted of the crime.

jordan on a press conference

Following his father's death, Michael Jordan decided to retire completely unexpectedly. This of course instigated a tsunami of rumors and conspiracy theories alleging that this retirement was actually a secret suspension from the NBA due to his gambling habits. However, even though this theory has been debunked in more ways than one, it’s still lingering in the minds of many till this day.     

In 1995, after a brief retirement from basketball, Jordan returned to the NBA. Although some did question his dedication to the game, Jordan’s love for basketball was unwavering and indisputable. Despite the controversies surrounding his gambling history, Jordan continued to dominate on the court, leading the Bulls to another three consecutive NBA championships from 1996 to 1998.

High Stakes Player On & Off Court 

In the years since his retirement, Jordan has maintained that his gambling never jeopardized his career or the sport. In ESPN’s 2020 docuseries, “The Last Dance,” MJ stated that if he had a gambling problem, he'd be starving, broke, or in trouble.

Jordan's gambling history provides a glimpse into the complexities of an athlete who dominated his sport like few others. It reveals the all-consuming competitiveness that fueled Jordan's unmatched basketball achievements, and it underscores the difficulties of managing such a personality off the court. Throughout it all, Jordan has remained unapologetic about his gambling. Despite the controversy, his gambling history has not tarnished his enduring legacy as one of the greatest athletes of all time. His competitiveness, whether on the court or at the gambling table, continues to define the persona of the man famously known as "His Airness".

User Avatar