Michael Jordan Gambling: NBA Legend’s Betting Saga

Discover the truth about Michael Jordan's gambling controversies and his addiction to winning. Learn how his relationship with gambling has changed over time, and how it is viewed in professional sports today. Read on for a fascinating insight into the legendary basketball player's life.
Michael Jordan gambling

Michael Jordan gambling has been a significant aspect of his life since his early years. He even bet $5 on a pool game while in high school. Jordan continued to gamble with his teammates and coaching staff during his professional career in the NBA. He was known to play with high rollers in the Bulls camp and frequently played cards with beat writers while on road trips. He even had a rolling bet with staff at the Chicago Stadium and would bet on the Jumbotron cartoon races.

Gambling controversies

Jordan’s gambling controversies began when he was forced to testify in February 1993 over a $57,000 check to James “Slim” Boulder, a gambler, and alleged drug dealer. The courts sentenced Boulder to nine years in prison over money laundering. Despite trying to argue that the check was for a business loan, Jordan admitted under oath that it was a gambling debt accrued from golf games. Another golfing partner claimed he owed him $1.3 million but later settled for $300,000. After these controversies, his biggest scandal occurred when basketball fans spotted him in Atlantic City during the 1993 NBA Finals. The NBA decided to investigate the matter.

Impact on his career

The combination of his testimony in February, the allegation that he owed $1.3 million in golf gambling debts, and his appearance in Atlantic City during the NBA Finals made the scandal much more significant. It affected him on the court as well – the Bulls lost the game the following night, and his 3-for-18 shooting was uncharacteristically cold in Game 3. His first retirement, in October, added more fuel to the fire. When asked whether he would ever return, MJ said he might “if the Bulls would have me, [and] if David Stern [NBA Commissioner] lets me back in the league.”

Despite all of these controversies, Jordan still managed to revolutionize sneakers with his Air Jordan deal with Nike. He won six NBA championship rings, six NBA Finals MVP awards, and appeared in 14 NBA All-Star games. He also won five NBA MVP awards, which led to the renaming of the MVP award to the ‘Michael Jordan Trophy’ in his honor. President Obama even awarded Jordan the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2016.

Retirement and NBA ownership

Michael Jordan’s gambling problem has been a topic of speculation for many years. However, there are several reasons to take his retirement announcement at face value. Firstly, he was emotionally drained after the death of his father. Secondly, the NBA denied any involvement in his decision to retire. Additionally, the NBA Board of Governors unanimously approved his candidacy as principal owner of the Charlotte Bobcats in 2010, indicating that any concerns about his gambling had been addressed.

Changing attitudes towards gambling

During the time of Jordan’s stories, gambling was viewed as a nefarious activity linked to the underworld, and scandals had rocked major leagues. However, the Supreme Court ruling in 2018 overruled PASPA, and by 2022, 36 states had legalized sports betting in some way. Jordan is now an NBA owner and has invested in DraftKings. The ties between sports betting and the NBA have grown, and the stigma of betting has lifted.


Ultimately, Michael Jordan gambling has less to do with an addiction to betting and more with an addiction to winning. He loves to win and has made bets with other players at his summer camps for kids. For example, when Chris Paul bet with him that if he missed three shots, he would have to pay for new Air Jordans for all the camp attendees, Jordan didn’t miss a single shot. Despite his gambling controversies, Jordan remains an iconic figure in the world of basketball and has left an indelible mark on the sport.