Amid Jordan’s gambling controversy in 1993, Michael gave an exclusive interview to Ahmad Rashad, explaining that he didn’t have the gambling problem. Instead, MJ called it “a competitive problem.” That statement may have been true, but his obsessive need to make everything into a competition manifested through gambling. Episode 6 of The Last Dance covered some of MJ’s gambling ventures, from him betting on everything from golf and cards with his teammates and even security guards. With the latest releases of ESPN’s documentary series, the talk around Jordan’s gambling habits is intensifying, and new stories are seeing the light of day.
Jordan’s bets varied – from pennies to thousands of dollars on card games. He would bet anything at hand just to engage in the competition, even if it meant putting his Ferrari at stake with the possibility of winning an unequally worth Mercedes. Jordan didn’t care, and Jamal Crawford found out the hard way. Crawford was a 21-years-old rookie playing in his first NBA season for the Chicago Bulls. Jordan was making his second comeback out of retirement as a 38-years-old veteran. Usually, the two played pickup games together and didn’t lose a single game in two years. Unfortunately for Crawford, this time, they were on opposite sides.
“JC challenged MJ to a 3 point shootout for $1000, MJ won, so Crawford upped to $5000 and won, then MJ told him: ‘What car did you drive here with?’ – ‘Mercedes’ – ‘I came with a Ferrari, let’s bet our cars.’ MJ went 5 for 5, removed Crawford’s personalized plate, and left with the Mercedes.”Gianmarco Pozzecco
You’ve read it well. Jordan bet a car on five three-pointers. A shot he wasn’t known for. It’s hard to tell whether his confidence overcame his desire for gambling. Or, as he would describe it, “a desire for competition.” However, Jordan left the gym with extra car keys. Betting his car on three-point shots won’t sound nearly as crazy after you read the following anecdote of MJ gambling. At least it was all in his hands. At least he was betting on his skill.
Jordan bet on a game every child knows how to play. Former NBA player and current ESPN analyst Jay Williams shared o story on MJ betting on a set of rock, paper, scissors. According to Williams, Jordan never backed down the opportunity to put some money on a childhood classic. And it wasn’t your ordinary low-stake game. He bet tens of thousands of dollars, most famously playing for $100,000.
“And don’t get yourself down in the dice game. Don’t be in the corner and let some dude keep fading you out and all of a sudden you’re down $100,000, and he’s like, ‘Yo bet it back — rock, paper, scissors for $100,000.’”Jay Williams, via The Brilliant Idiots
During the sixth episode of The Last Dance, David Aldridge said that “for Michael Jordan, $10,000 is like you gambling $10. He’s got it. He’s good for it. You don’t have to worry about it.” And I guess that is true. Our perception of what is a lot of money is different than Jordan’s.
However, stories like these two are why some consider Jordan’s gambling to be a problem. For some, this sounds irrational no matter your bank account balance. Then again, for most of us, Jordan’s competitiveness is irrational. It may just be love for something he was able to do on a level incomprehensible to your average Joe. As Jordan said: “it’s not a gambling problem; it’s a competitive problem.” It sounds like something a gambling addict would say.