Jordan’s gambling exploits are the stuff of legends.
Michael Jordan grew up in a town in North Carolina. Coming from a working class background, Jordan often played basketball with his older brother whom he couldn’t beat until he got a lot older. In fact, most of the early dunks that Jordan was known for in the NBA came from his brother. Jordan didn’t grow up being the natural winner he is famous for.
Jordan had failed to get on his high school varsity team when he entered high school. Jordan, who had already played baseball and football for several years, was devastated. Continuing on the junior varsity team, Jordan eventually made the varsity team and the rest is history. Although he is not a professional gambler, Jordan is as well known a gambler as any today.
The airport baggage claim story
The Bulls were flying to a game in Portland. While they were at the baggage claim waiting for their bags, Jordan takes out a USD 100 bill and puts it on the conveyor belt. Of course his teammates looked at him like he was crazy. Jordan said I bet you my bags come out first. Well it seemed like a great opportunity for the rest of the players watching.
After all, how could Michael know that his bags were coming out first? Already having a reputation for wagering on almost anything no matter how trivial, the rest of the players decided to get in on the action so nine teammates accepted the wager. Amazingly enough, as they watched the bags come in on the belt, Jordan’s were the first.
Of course there was one important piece of information that the teammates who lost the best didn’t know. Before the players were at the baggage claim, Jordan paid the baggage handlers to put his bags on the conveyor belt first. Although Jordan didn’t make much from the bet, he was more interested in getting the best of his teammates as he cackled like a witch taking the money.
Jordan’s exploits in Barcelona
When Jordan was a part of the World Renown 1992 Men’s Olympic Basketball team, he and the rest of the legendary players dominated everyone as they left fans and other players in awe. In fact, the best challenges the “Dream Team” members faced were against each other. The practice sessions they had were legendary, yet so were the gambling episodes.
Since they won every game without challenge, the U.S players could do other things. One night they were playing poker, something that Jordan, Magic Johnson, Scottie Pippen and Charles Barkley did almost nightly. Jordan had the gambling bug “something fierce” as he ended up playing all night until 6 am. It didn’t really matter since they ended up beating Croatia 117-85.
Jordan’s nighttime sabbatical
In this tale, Jordan was in the middle of the 1993 NBA playoffs. Normally, players are focused only on trying to make it to a championship. But not Michael Jordan. It seemed as though the man who won two back to back titles had more pressing matters to attend to. The day before a big game with the New York Knicks, Jordan snuck out to gamble.
Going to Atlantic City to play blackjack at Bally’s Casino isn’t the biggest crime in the world. Perhaps doing it until 2.30 am is another matter. When the Bull’s office found out about it, Jordan had plenty to hear about it. Fortunately, Jordan had one of the most memorable series of his career against the Knicks. Unfortunately, it led to a bit more than seal his reputation as one of the most famous gambling celebrities in the world
It was rumored that Jordan’s actions led to a league investigation into his gambling addiction. It has been speculated that Jordan’s first retirement was not his decision, but a punishment from the NBA for obsessive gambling. Far worse, were the ugly claims that the death of James Jordan, Michael’s father, was caused by mobsters who punished Jordan for unpaid gambling debt.