Michael Jordan is widely known as being probably the most competitive person in the world. But that didn’t just include basketball. He had to be the best at everything he did, from table tennis to playing cards. Unfortunately, that also had a bad side, as MJ got a rep for being a bit of a gambler. This story told by Antoine Walker shows exactly how Jordan never refused to lose even while playing a game of Spades.
Former NBA player Antoine Walker went on the “All Things Covered” Podcast and spoke about how in the ’90s, he and Jordan got into a game of spades at a restaurant that lasted for 36 hours straight and involved a lot of money.
“When Mike calls, the buy-in goes up a little higher. It’s going to be a number that everybody has to bring to the table. I’d say $20,000 just to get in. If you don’t have $20,000 to get in, you can’t even play. Mike was competitive. I remember one time we played spades for 36 hours. We were playing against two other guys and Mike and I were partners. They had us behind $900,000.”Antoine Walker, via All Things Covered
I don’t know which part is more ridiculous. The fact Jordan and Walker played for a day and a half straight or that the amount of money invested into the game almost reached seven figures. MJ was so into the game that he decided to cancel a press conference in which he was set to announce he was returning to playing basketball after the short stint in minor league baseball. Talk about priorities. Walker continued to tell the story and how the game eventually ended:
“I was leaving for Boston in a couple of days so I had about $100,000 cash. I was always a cash person. MJ had about $200,000 on him, but he sent for $500,000. The other guys we played against had money too. They had us down $900,000 and we got back all the money except for $20,000. Mike did not want to see them win $20,000. They ended up winning $180,000 because he got too tired. He was falling asleep at the table.”Antoine Walker, via All Things Covered
Jordan sent his nephew to get the money out of his golf bag to get the cash he was owed, all while ensuring Jordan’s wife didn’t see him. I guess even the greats are scared of their wife. They were almost even with a 20,000$ loss, but MJ wouldn’t want his opposition to get even that. In retrospect, it was a mistake as their loss climbed to 180,000$, at which point they were done because of the fatigue.
Walker just shared another example of Jordan’s unmatched competitive nature combined with a gambling addiction. It is a good thing MJ has the resources to gamble with that amount of money, but he would definitely benefit from letting his pride go every once in a while and stop while he can. But I guess some habits and characteristics never leave a person.