NBA fans around the world are waiting for The Last Dance documentary, and it seems more stories surrounding the team and especially Michael Jordan, resurfaced once again. Most of the stories give more insight into the team, their relationship between them as teammates, but it also a better understanding of their personalities.
One of the recent and most intriguing stories is surrounding Jordan and his apparent addiction to gambling. His competitive nature was evident in almost everything he did, and gambling was one of his biggest passions back in the early 1990s. According to Yahoo Sports, Jordan didn’t show up at a meeting with former president George H.W. Bush after the Bulls won their first championship in 1991 because he was playing golf and gambling with James ‘Slim’ Bouler. Bouler was known as a drug dealer and was later convicted for money laundering.
There was no real information for Jordan’s absence, except for a pretty vague explanation he was attending a family vacation that was already scheduled. To make the story even more interesting, the federal government also got involved because they seized a check worth $57,000 from Jordan to Bouler. Jordan testified in court and said that he lost in gambling playing golf with Bouler.
“For what I lost on gambling and golf and later in poker when he loaned me some money. I didn’t have any money.”
In an older interview for the New York Times, Jordan explained why that amount was initially defined as a loan and how he wanted to save his reputation.
“It was not represented as a loan at all. It was my immediate reaction to the media after a game to save embarrassment and pain and the connection to gambling.”
Stories like this somewhat support the theory that Jordan initially retired from the NBA because of his gambling problems. Jordan was the most prominent basketball superstar of that time, and everything he did affected the league, and it’s brand. That was pretty negative PR for Jordan and the NBA, so a mutual agreement between the league and Jordan to retire the first time sounds more reasonable from today’s perspective.